Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society
for Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys

Online Newsletter

Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip directions and reports, for phone and addresses for yard visits and additional articles. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!

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May, 2007

In This Issue


If you didn't receive this Tillandsia in your mail box,
… then you aren't a member of DCFNPS.

Please consider joining (if you have never joined) or rejoining (if your membership has lapsed).  We'd like to have you counted as a conservator of Florida's native plants and a supporter of FNPS!

drawing of a mail boxGive a gift FNPS membership! 
It comes with a FREE native plant.
Two gifts that will keep on giving.

Contact 305-255-6404 or pphares@mindspring.com.




  • 6 (Sun): Yard Visit
  • 12 (Sat): Field trip (Snake Bight, Everglades Nat. Park)
  • 22 (Tue.): Dade monthly meeting.


  • 2 (Sat.):  Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
  • 3 (Sun.): Field trip (West  Lake Park, Hollywood)
  •   26 (Tue.): Dade monthly meeting


Tuesday, May 22 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Corbin Building, 10901 Old Cutler Road.  Free and open to the public.  (4thTuesday, not the last!)

"Poking into the world of South Florida's Cacti" - Keith Bradley, Assistant Director of The Institute for Regional Conservation.

This will be a not-too-Cereus talk about the prickly history of South Florida's cactus species.  Bring a pad to write on, and maybe a tuna sandwich for a snack, as Keith will discuss each of the native and exotic cactus species that grow in the wild in South Florida, including their identification, habitats, and history.  He'll even talk about the night-blooming species.  No joints though, or you'll get poked with his rain stick.  Kissing is allowed under the mistletoe cactus.  Besides being Assistant Director of The Institute for Regional Conservation, Keith is a former president of the Dade Chapter FNPS (and perhaps secret a stand-up comedian).

Also, the Dade Chapter FNPS Annual Meeting will be held.  The only scheduled item of business at this brief, but important, meeting is to elect board members. 

Refreshments are available for early arrivals at 7:15.  Additions to the refreshment table and raffle plant donations are always welcome.  (Please check your plants for lobate lac scale.)  If you signed up to bring refreshments and have questions, please call Patty Harris at 305-262-3763.  Merchandise is available for sale before and after the program (cash and checks only).

June 26 meeting:  "Poisonous and Edible Wild Natives" by Roger Hammer, Senior interpretive naturalist, Miami-Dade Parks Department.

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Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members (Dade and Keys) and their invited guests. Children are welcome. Details are contained in the printed newsletter mailed each month to members. Collecting is not permitted. Please join today so that you can enjoy all the benefits of membership!

Sunday, June3:  The Anne Kolb Nature Center in West Lake Park in Hollywood.  This park is a 1500-acre mangrove wetland with boardwalks, trails, 68-foot observation tower.  (An exhibition hall also has nature exhibits, aquarium, and nature-themed art.)  We will also visit Hollywood North Beach Park on the other side of the Intracoastal, where we will botanize in the native dune vegetation. 

Learn to ID plants: If you would like help, please let it be known – we’ll introduce you to good people to stick close to. A plant list may be obtained for this site by visiting The Institute for Regional Conservation website at www.regionalconservation.org, and registering and then logging onto the Floristic Inventory of South Florida online database.

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The Keys FNPS group will be on vacation until November. Please contact chapter president Amy Leonard (305-458-0969, aleonar74@yahoo.com) if you could help with arrangements for the upcoming season.  The committee will meet in the fall, and new members would be warmly welcomed.

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Nominations for DCFNPS board. The slate so far for positions to be elected for 2007-2009 terms at the annual meeting on May 22 is: Treasurer - Mark Bolla, Secretary - Jonathan Taylor, Directors at large: Susan Walcutt, Jan Kolb, and Lynka Woodbury. If you could serve on the board, please call Robert Harris (954-651-4176), the nominating committee chairman. 

Would you like to host our annual July evening yard visit meeting?   We just need a place for about 40 people to gather to share a potluck dinner (and shelter in case of rain), and enough natives in your yard to make a short tour (does not have to be an all-native yard or anything "fancy").  The night is typically our usual 4th Tuesday, but this can be negotiated.  A central location is best.  (It's too hard for people to get to Homestead or Miami Beach after work.)  Please contact Jan Kolb (305-378-6104 or jankolb123@yahoo.com as soon as possible.

The Keys FNPS group will be on vacation until November. Please contact chapter president Amy Leonard (info box on the back) if you could help with arrangements for the upcoming season.  The committee will meet in the fall, and new members would be warmly welcomed.

Welcome new members! Dade: Betty Alvarez, Lawrence Benvenuti, Ana Chiappetta, Ellen Coulton, Anthony Garcia, Andrew Georgiadis, Gregorio Gonzalez, George Green, Pat Kelly (Kelly's Tropicals), David and Marcia Lord, James Popadak (The Hammocks Community Assoc.), Randall Quick, Heidi and Steve Rowland, Joan Tumpson, Danny Yepez.   And welcome back, Phil Valla.   In the Keys: Jean Jefferiss.

The Spring sale at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on April 28 was a great success. Special thanks to the first-time volunteers who helped set up and assisted shoppers; to Leslie Veber of Veber's Jungle Garden for her faithful participation at all our sales; and to donors of plants for the chapter to sell.  The chapter receives 70% of the proceeds on donated plants and 5% from the commercial nurseries, while 30% is a donation to Fairchild.  Best of all, the South Florida receives a lot of natives.

Chapter workday at Everglades National Park, Saturday, June 2, 9 a.m. - noon.  Please come help us in our ongoing light maintenance and planting.  Drinks, hand tools and gloves are provided, but you might want to bring your own water bottle as well as snacks to share.  New volunteers, friends and kids are welcome and encouraged.  Free admission to the park for your car after the workday.  For more info or possible carpooling, contact Patty (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).

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Jim Duquesnel, a long-time member of the Dade Chapter and founder of the Keys group, has left the Florida Park Service (after 17+ years) for a new job as Education Director at Boca Raton's Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.  Jim served on the Dade Chapter board and supported many activities before the Keys group formed, traveling from his home in Key Largo to meetings and leading many interesting field trips in the Keys.  In 1999, he initiated a meeting of the Keys members to discuss forming a chapter there instead of being part of the Dade Chapter.  While the group decided to remain part of the Dade Chapter, Jim led the effort in organizing monthly FNPS activities in the Keys (in addition to leading many field trips and presenting programs himself).  He and his wife Janice (a Florida Park Service biologist) have been favorites as speakers and field trip leaders for both Dade and Keys groups.  Jim has been a wealth of information for everyone interested in Keys nature, a champion of native plants and the Keys environment, and a boon to FNPS.  Best wishes to him in his new job!  We hope to still see him on the days he will continue to spend at his Keys home.

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Several Dade Chapter members (and the Chapter itself) were honored at the annual conference in Gainesville in April.

Landscape awards: 

Chapter Award: 

Endowment Research Grant Award:

Conservation Grant Award ($2500): 

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Dade Native Plant Workshop.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 St.  Study of plant ID and taxonomy.  Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547). Bring at least three flowering/fruiting plants of any species. May 15 topic: Convolulaceae.  See www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp

The Broward Chapter FNPS meets 2nd Tuesdays, 7:30Address: Fraternal Order of Eagles, 560 NE 36 St., Oakland Park. For information: 954-922-9747.  May 8: Tiffany Troxler will speak about Everglades tree islands.

The Broward Native Plant Workshop meets 3rd Tuesdays at the IFAS Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave. Ft Lauderdale. Contact Jack Lange (954-583-0283, jl_phoenix@comcast.net) for info.

Citizens for a Better South Florida.

Friends of Gifford Arboretum, University of Miami. Activities are free and open to the public.  Free parking.  For info: www.bio.miami.edu/arboretum, Eric Manzane (bioerman@bio.miami.edu) or 305-284-5364.

Tropical Audubon Society. Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Drive, 305-667-7337, www.tropicalaudubon.org for more details and events.  Nonmembers are welcome at all activities.  Meetings are free.  Doors open 7:30 pm, program at 8 pm.

Don’t miss TAS’s Native Plant Sale at the Doc Thomas House, June 2-3!  Proceeds support the conservation of  natural South Florida.

Miami-Dade College Environmental Center Kendall Campus.  Call 305-237-2600 or see www.mdc.edu/kendall/ce - click on Environmental Center. Free Second Saturday open houses (May 12, June 9).  Fish, plants, birds! Picnic, bring the kids.

The Nature Conservancy's Native Plant Fair in the Keys has been postponed until August due to the severe drought.  Stay tuned for more information.

Miami-Dade Extension. See http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu or call 305-248-3311.

Miami-Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Assoc.  www.miamiblue.org or Elane Nuehring (305-666-5727, miamiblue@bellsouth.net) for upcoming meetings and walks.

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KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Native and Non-Native Firebush

Written by Cammie Donaldson and published in the Native Plant & Service Directory by the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (www.afnn.org).

photo of FirebushFirebush is a popular shrub for Central and South Florida landscapes.  To distinguish the native from non-native, look at flower color and leaves.  Our native firebush, Hamelia patens, has flowers that are mostly red or reddish orange with darker linear stripes, and the leaves are softly hairy.  Hamelia patens var. glabra, a non-native firebush, is frequently mistakenly identified as native, but has smooth leaves and flowers that are much more strongly yellow colored.

Native firebush - Hamelia patens

Firebush attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds with an abundance of bright, orange-red tubular flowers year-round in South Florida and nearly year-round in Central Florida.  Following the flowers are fruits that change from green to red to purplish black and are favored by many birds.  Native to coastal hammocks and shell middens of Central and South Florida, firebush flowers heaviest and produces a mounded shape in full sun.  But it will tolerate some shade and is equally attractive with a more open, leggy habit.  Firebush is excellent for a single species shrub bed (guaranteed to attract hummingbirds) and also mixes well with other native shrubs.  Although it can reach 10' or more in height, Hamelia patens is typically 5-8' high and shears well to a shorter height of 3-4', if desired.  Cold sensitive, it generally rebounds after a die-back from a freeze.

Non-native Firebush - Hamelia patens var. glabra

There's more than one non-native firebush in the trade, and a lot of confusion and mislabeling.  Hamelia patens var. glabra is native to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.  It is not native to Florida and is not a cultivar of Hamelia patens.  It was introduced into the Florida nursery trade from a botanical garden in Pretoria, South Africa.  As a result, it is frequently referred to as "African firebush" or even more misleading, Hamelia patens 'African,' suggesting that it is a named selection of our native firebush.  It has sometimes been listed under Hamelia nodosa.  Unfortunately, no one has been able to reliably determine the origin of plants being sold as Hamelia patens 'Dwarf' or 'Compacta.'  As a result, AFNN does not list these as natives.

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     by Martin Roessler

On Sunday April 1, 2007, we visited the Miami-Dade Metrozoo pine rocklands. We were lead by Sonya Thompson from Dade County's Natural Areas Management team and Steve Woodmansee from The Institute for Regional Conservation.  The Naval Air Station (Blimp Base) covered over a square mile. Much of the site was developed for hangers and military facilities. Later Coast Guard housing, PX facilities, etc., were added along with communications and tracking facilities.  The University of Miami acquired part of the tract for horticultural research, medical research and recently for marine communications and sea surface mapping.  Much of the site was acquired by Dade County.  Part has been developed as MetroZoo and a railway museum.  Additional plans for County land anticipate a water theme park and amusement park. The remaining pineland covers about 195 acres. Land management of the undeveloped portions of the tract has been virtually non-existent.  Recently, management of the County owned pinelands has been taken over by the Parks Department, Natural Areas Management.  We were able to compare unburned areas to an area that recently underwent a controlled burn.  On our walk we observed the following ferns and plants in flower. For a detailed plant list please see the printed newsletter.

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[Excerpted from Fifty Tropical Fruits of Nassau by Kendal and Julia Morton, Text House, Coral Gables, FL., 1946.  This excerpt originally appeared in the January, 2000, Tillandsia.]

"The Satinleaf tree grows wild in the West Indies as it does in southern Florida and, in the Bahamas, is known as the Saffron tree. Closely related to the Star Apple, it is similar though more slender and the undersides of its leaves are satiny and a coppery reddish-brown.

"The Satinleaf fruit, called also Olive Plum, Bui and Caimitillo, diminutive of Caimito, the Spanish name for the star apple, is dark purple, nearly black of skin, and has light purple pulp containing a white milky sap.  The pulp, which has a mild sweet flavor, much like that of the Blueberry, is soft and melts in the mouth, but the skin is objectionably rubbery, so much so that it appeals to the native children as a pseudo 'chewing gum.'   The fruit is accordingly gathered and eaten out-of-hand, as a fresh raw fruit... The fruits make an excellent jelly of fine texture and beautiful color  ...  It deserves cultivation in gardens for the beauty of its foliage, with its jelly-yielding fruits as a by-product."

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by Roger Hammer
[From the May 1997 Tillandsia]

Dade County's pine rocklands will be blessed this month by the blossoms of Rough velvetseed, Guettarda scabra.  The pinkish-white, tubular flowers omit a heavenly scent that rivals gardenia.  One good place to see this shrub is in the Navy Wells Pineland Preserve just south of "Robert is Here" fruit stand in Florida City.

May usually kicks off the four-month flowering season of white stopper, Eugenia axillaris, in southern Florida.  The white flowers, as the specific name implies, are borne in the axils of the leaves.  The flowers are short-lived but showy and attract bees and small butterflies.

Spikes of bright blue flowers adorn pickerelweed throughout much of the year, but May usually signals their first real flowering show of the year.   This aquatic native plant can be easily cultivated by setting the pot in a tray of water or submerging the pot in a fish pond.  The flowers are especially attractive to butterflies.

Nesting season is in full swing this month.  As a reminder, if a baby bird falls or is blown from its nest, pick it up and put it back.  There is no truth to the belief that parent birds will abandon the nest of humans touch their offspring

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From Steve Woodmansee's discussion of raffle plants:

From Rob Campbell's discussion of propagation from seed:

When digging up small volunteers to pot up, you will probably lose all the hair roots no matter how careful you are (the soil will fall away and the hair roots with it).  But you can save the plant.

Other tips:

Thanks, Rob and Steve! [Notes taken by Patty Phares

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by Patty Phares and Gwen Burzycki

The programs at the annual FNPS Conference in Gainesville in April were interesting, as usual, but much of the fun was on field trips or other excursions.  Here's some of what you missed.

On Thursday, we chose the field trip to O'Leno State Park and River Rise Preserve.  The morning was sunny, but cool and damp from the previous day's rain.  The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression.  The Santa Fe River had been used for millworks, and with the extremely low water we could see the rocks from the footings of the dams.  The river goes through an area of karst topography and disappears underground for 3 miles, reemerging into a quiet lake where we enjoyed resting after hiking from the other end of the underground stretch.  A wide variety of plant communities are found in the park, from bottom land forest to wiregrass to turkey oak-longleaf pine. We lunched at a serene karst lake in the forest, with wading birds, basking turtles, and many small "LBJ" birds. Due to the variations in topography, the changes from one community to another happen rapidly. The Santa Fe floods the surrounding plant communities completely – we stood in flatwoods that had been under many feet of water only months ago.

On Sunday, we were joined by John Greenleaf (also from Dade) and several others kayaking on the Okalawaha River.  We started at the earthen berm which holds the Rodman Reservoir (formerly Rodman Dam but renamed Kirkpatrick Dam in honor the senator who fought to block removal of funding from the construction of the disastrous cross-Florida barge canal) and paddled with the current downstream.  The river meanders along fault lines from an ancient earthquake.  Ocala National Forest on the west side is an uplifted bluff also created from earthquakes, with sandy oak scrub.  On the east is lush bottomland forest, with large overhanging trees.

We left the dam in a wide channel with spatterdock all around.  This aquatic plant requires nearly continuous inundation so generally is found in South Florida only in the heart of Shark Slough or pond edges.  We also saw Amorpha fruitocosa (obviously related to our crenulate lead plant, Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata), swamp dogwood, deerberry, sweetbay magnolia in bloom, hawks catching snakes, brown water snakes trying to make us (and the hawks) think they were branches, logs in the river covered with Tillandsia spp., and unfortunately, a dead anhinga hanging high in a tree, caught on a branch by cord which it apparently had swallowed.  We ate our lunch at Davenport Landing, a steamboat landing in the oak and pine scrub where settlers sold firewood to fuel the tourist boats which plied the river before it was dammed.

Another short excursion was on the UF campus to watch thousands of bats fly out of their roost at dusk.   Quite a sight!

Next year's conference is May 15-18, 2008, in Bradenton, sponsored by the Pinellas, Serenoa, Mangrove and Suncoast chapters.  So pencil it in already

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General information and memberships: Patty Phares (305-255-6404)

Contact in the Keys: Jim Duquesnel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202)

President: Amy Leonard, 305-458-0969, aleonar74@yahoo.com

Refreshment coordinator, Dade meetings: Patty Harris, 305-262-3763 eve., 305-373-1000 day

DCFNPS Web page: http://dade.fnpschapters.org

Webmaster: Greg Ballinger

FNPS Web Page: http://www.fnps.org

FNPS Eco Action Alert List: Send email request to info@fnps.org

FNPS (state) phone: 321-271-6702, info@fnps.org

Tillandsia editors: Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com) and Karen Griffin (305-441-0458, kgriffin@cyberonic.com).

The Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and preservation of Florida's native flora and natural areas, and promoting native plants in landscapes.

The chapter includes residents of Miami-Dade County and the Keys.
Meetings in Miami-Dade County
are on the 4th Tuesday of most months at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and are free and open to the public. Once a year, instead of the usual meeting, members and their guests are invited to an evening garden tour and social at a member's home.
Meetings in the Keys
are held on 3rd Tuesdays in November through April at varying locations from Key Largo to Key West.
The basic FNPS membership (state and chapter) for new members is $25 for the first year and $30 after that. Please contact DCFNPS or click on the membership link at this site for a membership application.

Please send articles, announcements of local activities and news of interest to the Dade Chapter PO Box or email to the editor (above) by the 15th of each month to be considered for publication the following month.

Advertising rates from $12/month.

© 1999-2007 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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