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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July/August, 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.




  • 14 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
  • 21 (Sat.):  Field trip, Simpson Park (Miami)
  • 24 (Tue.): Evening yard visit and social meeting (not at Fairchild)


  • 12 (Sun.): Yard visit, South Miami
  • 18 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
  • 26 (Sun.): Field trip, South Dade

(No newsletter or Dade meeting in August. The Keys group is on vacation until November.)



Tuesday, July 24, 7-9 p.m. -- NOT at Fairchild (and it’s the 4th Tuesday, not the last!)

What: Annual evening yard visit and potluck social.
Where: A member's home near SW 67 Ave (Ludlam) and SW 136 St.
When:  As early as 7 p.m. to tour the yard before eating.
Who: FNPS members and their guests are invited.
Bring: Potluck dish with serving utensil (drinks and plates, etc., are provided); raffle plants.

Our very first summer solstice evening yard visit was to this beautiful preserved hammock in 1990, and we visited again in 1996.  The development Devonwood was built in the 1960s by a developer who met the challenge to construct homes without destroying the environment.  Cement was hand-poured; cranes lifted building materials over trees; trees on the home site were felled with saws instead of bulldozers and left to rot and become homes for ferns and bromeliads.  The property contains the usual array of hammock trees and a large variety of ferns and epiphytes.

No meeting in August.

September 25: UM Professor Dr. Hal Wanless - the effects of climate change on South Florida ecosystems.

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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!

Saturday, July 21, 9 a.m.-noon.  Simpson Park and other remnants of Brickell Hammock.  Simpson Park in the City of Miami reopened in June2006 after being closed since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. While the tree canopy is now less dense, the hammock is full of interesting sights as the plants respond to increased light.  Charles Torey Simpson, a noted naturalist and author early in the 20th century, was instrumental in persuading officials to preserve some of Brickell Hammock.  Now, thanks to Park Naturalist Juan Fernandez and the City of Miami maintenance crew, this 8.5 acre site remains an environmental, cultural and historic treasure.  Of 165 plant taxa recorded for the park, 20 are Florida state endangered or threatened, including the endangered Gulf Licaria (Licaria triandra).  We will also make a short visit to Alice Wainwright Park, which also contains a remnant of Brickell Hammock but is not currently open to the public, and perhaps the small portion of the hammock along the parking lot of Viscaya.  A brief history of the park is at http://www.ci.miami.fl.us/Parks/pdf/History_of_%20Simpson_%20Park.pdf.   An article about the hammock’s diverse flora by Kristie Wendelberger is in the July-August, 2006, Tillandsia (see http://dade.fnpschapters.org ).

Address: 55 SW 17 Road, Miami.
Directions:  From South Dade take US1 to South Miami Ave. and turn left at 17 Road.  From the north, exit I-95 at the Key Biscayne exit, go left and turn north at South Miami Ave.
Leader: Juan Fernandez, Park Naturalist (and FNPS member)
Difficulty: Easy - smooth but unpaved paths.
Bring:  drinks, sun protection. 
Lunch plans:  Mykonos Greek restaurant on Coral Way.

Sunday, August 26, 9 a.m.-noon.  The Institute for Regional Conservation’s pineland preserve and other sites in South Dade.  Three cheers to the IRC for its conservation efforts (consider helping at their monthly workdays at various preserves - ask our trip leader)! No description of the site is available for this newsletter (hey - it’s July and we should all be on vacation), but you can read about the efforts of the IRC at www.regionalconservation.org.  We may also go to Silver Palm Hammock to the west and then head for lunch.

Directions: Take US1 to Silver Palm Dr. (SW 232 St. and 127 Ave.), turn south from US1, go left at the next intersection then right.  The pineland is on the east.
Leader: Steve Woodmansee, IRC Senior Biologist and past-president of DCFNPS.
Difficulty: Easy, but not necessarily on paths.
Bring: Drinks, sun protection.
Lunch plans: How about the air-conditioned comfort of the Mexican restaurant on US1 south of 248th (economical, casual and a hit last year).

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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Date & Time:   Sunday,  August 12, 2007, 2-4 p.m.   

Location: Home of a member in South Miami

This 1/4 acre property is a gem: “Rockland Hammock meets Fairchild Garden.”  The original hammock of strangler fig, oak, pigeon plum, marlberry, mastic, etc.., contains some trees that are exceptionally large and tall.  One edge of the property shows the karst topography of the boundary line between hammock and a former marl prairie that is now a canal – an area formerly known as Slocum’s Slough.  Jim moved to the property in the 1980s and since then many bromeliads, aroids, palms and more native plants have been added.  The dense understory allows grass only near the road.  This jungle of natives and exotics is the best of both worlds.

This visit is part of an ongoing opportunity for those who wish to know the natives in a hands-on manner and to see them in various settings, formal and informal, and to learn the property owner’s successes and failures at growing them.  For more information please call Gwlady Scott at 305-238-8901.

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Workdays at Everglades National Park:  July 14, August 18, 9 a.m. (or whenever you can make it) to noon.  Prescribed burns by ENP in late June have dramatically (if temporarily) altered the scenery at our landscaping project at the Coe Visitor Center.   It’s always fascinating to see how quickly plants regrow and what new things (some unwanted) appear after a fire, so come help (weeding and pruning) and get a first-hand look. Wear clothes that can get sooty, bring sun and bug protection.  Drinks, gloves and hand tools are provided, but you may want to bring your own and also snacks to share and a water bottle.  Your car gets into the park free after the workday. New helpers, kids and friends are welcome! If you are not on the email distribution for workday reminders but might be interested in helping, or for carpooling, please contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).

Tillandsia co-editor needed.  Our co-editor, Karen Griffin, is moving out of Dade County.  While she can continue for a while to assist in doing the Tillandsia layout by email (as usual), it is also an opportunity for a local member to step into the position. If you would like to know more about what help is needed in producing the Tillandsia, please contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).

Meet the new DCFNPS Board Members.  Bios of the continuing board members were printed last year.  Now welcome the two newest members.

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New copies of Florida Plants for Wildlife are available for purchase from the Suncoast Chapter FNPS.  This classic Florida native plant book by Craig Huegel is excellent, and copies are scarce as it has been out of print for some time. For a copy, contact Sally Sun (813-935-1312, spriggsun@yahoo.com).

Sign up now to receive Sabal Minor electronically.  To receive email notification that the bi-monthly Sabal Minor is available on the FNPS web site and be taken off the hardcopy snail mail list (cut down on expenses and save some trees!), please send email to info@fnps.org and provide the following: your membership number (if you know it), your first and last names, your email address.

FNPS Amazon  Jungle  Safari,  Oct 19-28, 2007.  Learn about the world’s largest rainforest and river system with our own specially trained guides to describe flora and fauna. We will stay in four Explorama Lodges, hike in the jungle, traverse the river system in “collectivos” (long passenger boats), and have the opportunity to take the Canopy Walkway 115 feet in the air. View ethnobotanical plants along the medicine trail and within the ReNuPerRu Ethnobotanical Garden. $2795 per person double occupancy, starting and ending in Miami. The tour is escorted by experienced FNPS tour leaders Jo Anne and Fred Trebatoski. For more information see www.fnps.org and click on the brochure on the home page. Contact the Trebatoskis at plantnative@earthlink.net or call 800-466-9660.

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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. July 17: Piperaceae (Pepper family). Aug. 21: TBA.  See www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp

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.  Pineland restoration workdays: July 21, August 18 8:30-noon. Learn about natives, restore the Doc Thomas pineland.  August 22, 7:30 p.m. - Conservation Meeting.

Job announcement:  Are You Executive Material? The Tropical Audubon Society seeks a qualified candidate for its full-time Executive Director position involving environmental advocacy, fundraising and administrative duties.  See www.tropicalaudubon.org for full details and directions on how to apply.

Butterfly Days at Fairchild Tropical Botantic Garden
July 27-29
Sponsored by the Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association and FTBG.

The 4th annual Day has been expanded into Days.  Featured Keynote Speaker is Rick Cech, author of the can't-be-without Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer's Guide speaking on our East Coast butterflies and also on the butterflies of Peru.  Also: plant sale, pancake brunch, children's activities by the FTBG Education Department, introduction to the butterflies of Fairchild Garden, guided butterfly walks, and presentations on butterflies, identification skills and butterfly host plants. Free after admission to Fairchild.  See details at www.miamiblue.org or www.fairchildgarden.org. 

For questions about Butterfly Weekend or Miami Blue, contact Elane Nuehring.
Phone: 305-666-5727
Email: miamiblue@bellsouth.net

Pine Rockland Working Group, July 18, 9:30-4 pm at the Miami Dade College Kendall Campus.  The PRWG is a group of environmental professionals (land managers, botanists and the like), owners of pine rocklands, and anyone interested in the welfare of pine rocklands.  Contact Chris Bergh (cbergh@tnc.org) for more information.

“Make Your Yard Your Medicine Cabinet.”  Wednesday, July 18, 6-9 p.m. at Biscayne Nature Center on Key Biscayne.  Presented by Citizens for a Better South Florida and the Florida School of Herbal Studies.  Learn about dozens of native edible and medicinal plants; taste and smell tisanes and infusions; discuss and experience ecological harvesting practices; learn tincture-making.  $30.  Space is limited, pre-registration required.  Contact Citizens at 305-648-0000 or anjali@abettersouthflorida.org.

Help plant beach clustervive on Thursday, July 19.  Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden needs assistance with a planting project of the federally endangered Jacquemontia reclinata (beach clustervine) on Haulover Beach, Miami Beach.  This planting will double the current wild population when added to survivors of previous plantings.  Help is needed for planting, measuring and watering from 9:30 a.m. to about 12:30.   FTBG will provide water and snacks.  The work will be strenuous and there is no shade but the company is always fun.  Please contact Sam Wright (305-667-1651 x 3414 or swright@fairchildgarden.org) to RSPV and get directions.

The Institute for Regional Conservation’s guides for planting pine rockland and rockland hammock are available online!  Go to www.regionalconservation.org - Natives for Your Neighborhood - Habitats, then click on Pine Rockland or Rockland Hammock. 

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Melanthera, Black anthers

Several raffle plants in May were in the genus Melanthera.  All were M. parvifolia (pineland blackanthers).  You can go to the Institute for Regional Conservation web site for photos and more detail (www.regionalconservation.org, Natives for Your Neighborhood or the Floristic Inventory), but Steve Woodmansee summarizes the different species for us here.

Dick Wunderlin and Bruce Hansen (2003) lump all the Melanthera into M. nivea.  But IRC follows Cronquist (1980). 

The leaves of all Melanthera (black anthers) are rough (scabrous), and another name for it is Cat’s tongue because of the leaves.  All species grow in sunny conditions and attract pollinators.  Flowers are white except that the anthers are black, giving them the appearance of the common movie candy snow-caps (non-pareils for you old timers).

Melanthera nivea (snow squarestem) - a coastal species which becomes quite a large robust herb.  It is dense and can grow as tall as 1 meter.  It is found in light gaps of coastal hammocks, or on the edges of coastal strand and maritime hammock. The leaves are larger than the other two species, and auriculate (ear shaped).  It is typically short-lived.

M. parvifolia (pineland blackanthers) - an inland species predominantly in pinelands.  The leaves are auriculate and the plant typically is not erect like M. nivea.  The branches fall over, giving a creeping appearance.

M. angustifolia (prairie blackanthers) - an inland species predominantly in short hydroperiod prairies.  It grows upright to 1 meter in height, but is not as bushy as M. nivea.  The leaves are narrow, with only the slightest lobing at the base, if any at all. 

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     by Chuck McCartney

Two highly disturbed “natural areas” in coastal Hollywood were visited on June 3 during a field trip of the Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Broward County’s 1,500-acre West Lake Park straddles Sheridan Street from the Intracoastal Waterway on the east to the western shores of West Lake. Before Everglades drainage, the area was a mostly a freshwater or brackish system, but it is now the largest mangrove wetland left in Broward. Although much of it now looks like a natural system, the landscape was “sculpted” and highly modified during habitat restoration at the time of the park’s creation. A 68-foot observation tower offered a great overview of the preserve, with views from the Atlantic westward into Hollywood and adjacent Dania Beach.

The park’s easiest public access area is the Anne Kolb Nature Center, named for a late Broward County commissioner who was a champion of the environment. The center is dedicated to educating the public about natural areas of Southeast Florida, especially coastal habitats, so the following list of plants the group observed in bloom represents many species, which, although native to various areas of Florida, were artificially introduced at the nature center site.

The biggest find on the nature center grounds came while center naturalist Molly Taylor was showing us an exotic vining member of the Euphorbia family (identified by Steve Woodmansee as Dalechampia scandens, a species new to North America outside Mexico). Growing on the trunks of the exotic coastal Casuarina trees at that spot were odd-looking growths that almost appeared to be shorter bunches of the Australian Pines’ “needles.” However, on closer examination, these proved to be thick colonies of the scurfy miniature bromeliad Tillandsia ionantha, a native of Mexico and much of Central America. Bromeliad expert Ken Marks, who has addressed the Dade Chapter in the past, later examined this colony and determined that it was, indeed, a naturalizing colony of this species often seen in the horticultural trade.

Leaving West Lake Park and the Anne Kolb Nature Center, we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway onto the Atlantic barrier island to visit Hollywood North Beach Park, which, despite its name, is county-owned. Again, this is a highly disturbed habitat, but it retains some of the natural dune vegetation that once characterized the area. There have been some restoration efforts, accounting for several of the species we saw in flower.

For a detailed plant list please see the printed newsletter.

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by Jim Duquesnel

[Reprinted from the September 2000 Tillandsia]

Watching nature is one of the country’s favorite pastimes, so it is no surprise that one reason many of us love native plants is because they attract wildlife. Here in the Keys, summer (August - October) is probably the time when the largest number of trees and shrubs are producing fruit. And though many birds we like to watch actually breed far north of here, the right plants in your yard still bring results.

Probably the all-time champion wildlife food in the Keys is poisonwood, and its fruiting peaks in late spring and early summer, just as our resident birds are raising young. This is probably no accident -- like human children, young birds have special nutritional needs. If you watch carefully, you will notice many adult birds, of species that ordinarily dine mostly on seeds and fruits, bring a lot of insects to their nestlings. Growing birds require more proteins and fats in their diets than adult birds.  Poisonwood fruits have high concentrations of fats known as lipids, and one brave friend of mine claims they actually taste buttery. As all dieters know, fats are calorie packed. They are also where fat soluble vitamins, such as A and E, are stored. The high metabolism of nestling birds, especially during the growth spurt that occurs between hatching and leaving the nest, requires just such a nutritional powerhouse.

In the landscape, poisonwood is a mixed blessing.  Many are allergic to it and the contact dermatitis produced results in an itchy rash on sensitive individuals. But, if placed in an out of the way corner of the yard, this plant is a magnet for birds (including White-crowned Pigeons, Woodpeckers, and Gray Kingbirds) as well as squirrels.

By early August, most Keys resident birds are finished nesting and youngsters are following parents around the neighborhood, learning where and what to eat. Families of Mockingbirds, Grackles, Cardinals, and Jays are conspicuous visitors to backyards with feeders, water and the right plants. Less conspicuous Vireos and Prairie Warblers flit unnoticed through the foliage, seeking out insects and small fruits.  Though some plants (such as firebush and strangler fig) produce fruit at almost any time of year, most trees and shrubs have a peak in production that lasts just one to three months. From August through October, blolly, willow bustic, Spanish stopper, black torch, and others will present branches arrayed with colorful fruits.

These are mostly small fruits, and valuable primarily for their carbohydrate content. Their small size makes them ideal energy sources for southbound warblers that begin passing through in August. By the first week of August, American redstarts and Yellow-throated warblers had visited my plantings.

Landscaping diversity is the key to attracting wildlife.  While massed plantings are aesthetically pleasing, be sure to leave room for variety. Remember, the birds need food all year.  P.B. Tomlinson’s book The Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida is probably the best source on the time of fruiting of native plants. Consult with your nurseryman and veteran FNPS members at chapter meetings about what plants will work best in your area.

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by Gil MacAdam

[First printed in Tillandsia in October, 1997, and again since then, but it’s worth repeating for those of you who are thinking about changes to your landscaping.]

A mini-wildlife refuge, as defined by the National Wildlife Federation, is as area not more than three acres which provides a sanctuary for wildlife to find food, water, protection and repro­­ductive areas.  These may be suburban resi­dences, rural farmyards, parks, office complexes, or almost any conceivable plot that receives landscaping.  The concept of attracting wild creatures to urban areas is appealing to many and can certainly enrich the life of an interpreter.

The program of promoting urban wildlife is an attempt to offset the effects of a million acres of wildlife habitat destroyed for development each year in the United States. As residences across a community provide green oases, migrating birds and butterflies can locate the necessities of life.

The basic plan of residential wildlife landscaping is to establish the “edge” concept, where two plant communities meet, all around the property.  This is done by planting trees and shrubs at the perimeter which meets grass or mulch beds.  Within the “edge of the woods”, which can be densely planted, can be interspersed bird feeders, bird baths, ponds and nesting boxes. Native plants should be the basis of your plantings, although colorful exotics can be added if desired.

Results can be dramatic! Moving into a fairly bleak Fort Lauderdale suburban yard in 1974, I began my plantings. To date, 85 bird species have utilized my yard, including Nash­ville warbler, painting bunting, yellow-breasted chat, sharp-shinned hawk, burrowing owl and great egret. Also 18 species of butterflies have been identified and 30 baby red-bellied woodpeckers have started their life journey from my side yard.

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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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