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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MARCH 2008

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.



March 2008

  • 15 (Sat.): NATIVE PLANT DAY in North Miami
  • 18 (Tue.):  Meeting in the Keys (Islamorada). “Landscaping with Native Plants” - panel discussion with Joyce and Don Gann, Patricia Mull, Tom Strobel and others.
  • 22 (Sat.): Keys group field trip: yard visit in Tavernier
  • 25 (Tue.): Meeting in Dade: “Give Peas a Chance: Fabaceae (Pea Family) in South Florida” - Steven W. Woodmansee.
  • 30 (Sun.): Dade field trip (Big Cypress)

April 2008

  • 5 (Sat.):  Chapter workday, Everglades Nat. Park
  • 12 (Sat):  Gathering to remember Mary Ann Bolla
  • 15 (Tue.):  Meeting in the Keys (Marathon).  “History of Lignumvitae Key Bot. St. Park” –  Janice Duquesnel
  • 20 (Sun.): Keys group field trip: Lignumvitae Key. Reservations required, space limited!
  • 22 (Tue.): Meeting in Dade. “Lichens and the Native Flora of  Subtropical Florida” – Rick Seavey.  Preceded by free tram tour of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
  • 26 (Sat.): Spring sale at Fairchild.  DCFNPS participates.
  • Dade field trip, yard visit: TBA

May 2008

  • 15-18 (Thu.-Sun.):  FNPS Annual Conference, Bradenton.
  • 27 (Tue.): Meeting in Dade. “Man-o-War, Manatee & Mormon Key: Places Names in South Florida’s National Parks” - Larry Perez
  • Dade field trip TBA

See our online Calendar for more details and dates.


Tuesday, March 25, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Corbin Building, 10901 Old Cutler Road.  Free and open to the public.

“Give Peas a Chance…Fabaceae (Pea Family) in South Florida”  -  Steven W. Woodmansee, Biologist

There are many different types of legumes (Fabaceae or pea family) found in South Florida.   It is South Florida’s fourth largest plant family with almost 90 native representatives (and over 100 naturalized exotic representatives).  The legume family is fairly easy to discern from other plant families, and Steve will discuss the characteristics that distinguish or unite different groups of this fascinating plant family.  The program will include a wide range of colorful photographs of legumes.  Steve is a biologist, formerly with The Institute for Regional Conservation, leader of the Native Plant Workshop, past-president of the Dade Chapter FNPS, frequent field trip leader and eternally the person in the chapter to answer plant questions.

Refreshments begin at 7:15; merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash/checks only).  See our new denim chapter logo shirts, try them on for size and order one!
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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, March 30.  Big Cypress.  We will head north or south on the Florida Trail from the Oasis Ranger Station, depending on conditions on the day.  Walk through some combination of prairie, cypress forest, pine flatwoods, around swamps -- all of it beautiful. Wildflowers should be starting their spring bloom.  It will probably be dry but there could be some muddy areas depending on the weather. 

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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For more information, contact Sue Miller at 305-664-9440 or sueorjay@terranova.net. To receive email reminders, please send your request douville@bellsouth.net.

Schedule for all meetings:

Meeting:  Tuesday, March 18,  Islamorada Library MM81.5 Bayside.

Program:  Landscaping with Natives - A panel discussion moderated by Tom Strobel.  Ask questions of the experts about using native plants in your landscape design.  Participants include Joyce and Don Gann, well known native plant advocates who ran one of the first native nurseries in Dade County and founded the Dade Chapter FNPS.  Pati Mull will also provide her input as a property owner who has created an amazing seaside garden using native plants.  Her property, Villa Maria was the winner of the 2001 FNPS award in the residential design category.  Moderator Tom Strobel spent his early years in the Keys as a landscape architect and was one of the founding chapter members.

Native Plant Raffle.  Many of our plants come from the nursery at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.  If you’d like to see a specific plant in the raffle, contact Jackie, KLHNursery@aol.com . If you have native plants to share, please bring them for the raffle. 

Field trip: Saturday, March 22, 10 a.m.  Yard visit to “Villa Maria” in Tavernier.  This is the spectacular, award-winning native garden at the home of one of our members.  You won’t want to miss this field trip.  When she purchased the house in 1997, there was only grass and a couple of trees. She began by totally renovating the house and garden as a seaside habitat. There are over 200 different species of plants and wildflowers on the property. See how the natives managed to recover at this bay front location hard hit by Hurricane Wilma.  See printed newsletter for location.

Tuesday April 15: Meeting. Marathon Garden Center.  “History of Lignumvitae Key” - Janice Duquesnel

Sunday April 20: Field trip. Boat trip to Lignumvitae Key (2 hours on island).  Space is limited so make your reservation early!  Leaves Robbie’s (MM77.5 bayside, Islamorada) at 9:30 a.m.  $12 for boat trip (includes State park fee.)  In March contact Sue Miller: (305) 664-9440 or sueorjay@terranova.net .   In April contact Lisa Gordon: ledzepllg@bellsouth.net  or (305) 743-0978.

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The 37th Annual Native Plant Holiday Party Postponed
Special Edition Event
Saturday, April 12, 11 am - 1 pm

Presented in memory of Mary Ann Bolla

with special assistance by Joyce Gann.

Castellow Hammock in South Dade - 22301 SW 162 Avenue (Farmlife Rd), between SW 216 St. & SW 232 St. (Silver Palm).

Main dishes of pig roast, barbeque chicken, black beans and rice, and plantains will be provided.

Please call Joyce Gann (786-423-1881) or e-mail Mark Bolla at bollam@bellsouth.net for bringing drinks, ice, cups, salads, fruit and dessert items.

A memorial fund with the Dade Chapter FNPS has been established to support student field research.

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Sponsored by The Dade Chapter FNPS and the City of North Miami Parks.  Elaine Gordon Enchanted Forest Park in North Miami, 1725 NE 135 Street, North Miami. 

See http://dade.fnpschapters.org  for a schedule and poster.  It’s free, good for the whole family, and easy to reach via I-95 (3 miles east of I-95, 21 miles from Dadeland, 3 miles east of I-95, 1 block west of US1) so don’t let “I live in South Dade” be an excuse!  (If you have friends who are also coming, please try to carpool to help conserve parking space as well as gas.)

Please help with publicity! Hang the poster at your workplace, school, church, grocery store, etc. Pass out schedules however you can.  This is especially needed in the North part of the county.  Forward the schedule on the web site to your friends.

Other ways to help:

(1) We can still use volunteers to help at the event or Friday setup.  No special expertise needed.  You can pick time slots that allow you to attend activities of your choice.  Please contact Jan Kolb (305-378-6104 or jankolb123@yahoo.com ) ASAP.

(2) Raffle and chapter plant sale donations. species native to Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties, in 4” to 3-gallon.  If the plants aren’t in good shape or not quite ready for a sale, please give them some TLC and save for a later occasion.  Non-plant items are also appreciated (books, gardening items, art work, entrance passes, services, etc.)  Please contact Robert Harris in advance, if possible, (954-651-4176 cell, xkensington6x@yahoo.com ) so he can prepare signs and make arrangements for transportation.

(3) Supply butterfly larvae and host plants. Also chrysalises, ova, blooming nectar plants in pots or cuttings.  Contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com ).

Native Plant Day Committee: Amy Leonard (Chair - aleonar74@yahoo.com  or 305-458-0969), Jan Kolb, Patty Phares, Ted Shaffer.

Synopsis (get all the details online).  Early bird walk at 8 am. All other activities start at 9 am.   Programs (see below). Nature walks every hour. Two raffles.  Things to make and do for all ages. Plant sales (and holding area - shop and stay!).  Books, shirts, bags, ID cards, notecards, garden gloves for sale. Educational displays. Master Gardener Plant Clinic. Food and drink available or bring your own.  The Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park:  A 22-acre oasis on North Miami’s Arch Creek.  305-895-1119.  http://www.northmiamifl.gov

Indoor programs (45 minutes):

Picnic shelter programs (20 minutes)    ☼=good for all ages:

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Is it time for you to serve the Dade chapter?  A new chapter board will be selected at our May meeting.  Some board members at large as well as President and Vice President will be on the proposed slate.  If you know someone who might make a good board member (including yourself), please suggest their name to Robert Harris, Nominating Committee chairman (954-651-4176 cell, xkensington6x@yahoo.com).  You can talk to Robert or other board members about what is involved.  The main qualifications are enthusiasm and a desire to see the chapter thrive -- you don’t have to be a botanist!

New chapter shirt. Wear a tailored look with our blue denim shirt with embroidered chapter logo: lightweight, prewashed cotton, buttondown collar, pocket, XS to 3X large.  Short-sleeve $25, long-sleeve $28, incl. tax / delivery).  Try on samples to ensure fit and order at Native Plant Day or chapter meetings.

Chapter Workday at Everglades National Park:  April 5. 9 a.m. - noon. Help with our native plant habitat landscaping maintenance around the Coe Visitors Center.  Drinks, gloves and hand tools are provided, but you may want to bring your own and also snacks to share and a water bottle. Bring sun protection.  Enjoy the rest of the day in the park - your car gets in free after the workday.  Contact Patty Phares with questions or to carpool (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).

Florida Native Plant Society Annual Conference: Estuaries to Uplands:  Celebrating Florida’s Native Plant Heritage.
May 15-18, 2008, Manatee Convention Center - Palmetto, FL
(Near Bradenton). Field trips;  native plant, book and merchandise vendors; educational exhibits; programs;  workshops; social events. See www.fnps.org - What’s Happening for more information. Brochure and registration info will be mailed soon.  On-line registration is available now.  Register and reserve your hotel early!

FNPS Mega Membership Explosion!  Two months remain for gift and new memberships in the FNPS Holiday Mega Membership Challenge.  The goal is for every FNPS member to present a gift membership. Grand prizes will be given to all chapters that increase their membership by 100%. Some upcoming holidays for gift-giving in the next month are: World Women’s Day (3/7), Pi (3/14), Palm Sunday (3/16), St. Patrick’s Day (3/17).  So spread the word about natives by giving someone a membership -- it’s only $25.

   - Lynka Woodbury, FNPS Membership Committee Chair (lwoodbury@fairchildgarden.org).

“It’s a gift you don’t have to find a place to store or put away or learn how to use.” -- Mary Ann Bolla, December 2007.
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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.  Plant ID and taxonomy. Bring at least three flowering/fruiting plants of any species (even if not the subject matter).  Mar. 18: Legumes.  Location: Deering Estate.   Steve Woodmansee (305-595-5541 or Stevewoodmansee@bellsouth.net or see http://www.regionalconservation.org /ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp

The Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC). www.regionalconservation.org , 305-247-6547.

Tropical Audubon Society. Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Dr., 305-667-7337, www.tropicalaudubon.org for more details and events.  Nonmembers are welcome at all activities.

TREEmendous Miami ( www.treemendousmiami.org) and the City of Miami will conduct a tree planting on Saturday, April 12, 9 am - noon, along the swales areas in Miami to increase the tree canopy. If you can volunteer, please contact Amy,  Program Coordinator, at 305 378 1863 or see the web site.

Volunteer workdays, Miami-Dade Parks Natural Areas Management & the Environmentally Endangered Lands program. Help protect and restore native habitats, learn about invasive non-native plants and our ecosystems. Pre-register: 305-257-0933 x227. Mar. 22: Camp Matecumbe Pineland (cleanup), 11400 SW 137 Ave., 9-noon; Mar. 28: Ned Glenn Preserve (birding, nature walk, cleanup!), SW 188 St. & 87 Ave., 8-11am. Apr.12: Kendall Indian Hammocks (air potato removal), 11345 SW 79 St., 9-noon.

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Assoc.  See www.miamiblue.org or Elane Nuehring (305-666-5727, miamiblue@bellsouth.net). Trips: Mar. 22 - ENP; Apr. 5 - CREW Marsh (with Marc Minno and Roger Hammer); Apr. 13 - Jonathan Dickinson State Park.  Newcomers welcome!

20th Gifford Arboretum Lecture and Arboretum Reopening, Thursday, March 20, 7-9:30 pm, 145 Cox Science Building, University of Miami.

(Editor’s note: This is always a very informative and enjoyable event!)

Save Endangered Trout Lilies.  Members of the Magnolia FNPS chapter in Tallahassee are involved in an effort to preserve 140 acres of unique habitat in Cairo, Georgia, near the Florida border.  See a stunning photo at http://www.flwildflowers.com/wolfcreek of endangered trout lilies in this habitat.  If you can contribute to this effort to raise funds, FNPS member and Tallahassee native plant nurseryman Dan Miller (see web site) is spearheading the effort.   - Mike Abrams meabrams@earthlink.net

The Delicate Balance of Nature.  Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park’s 17th Annual Lecture Series. 7:30 - 8:30 pm.  Free. The location may be at John Pennekamp or changed due to construction to Key Largo School.  For more information and to confirm the location, call 305-451-1202. 

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By Jeff Wasielewski
[Reprinted from the February, 2001, Tillandsia]

The Gumbo Limbo, Bursera simaruba, is the reigning beauty queen of the native plant world.  Its glossy leaves and beautiful, red, peeling bark make the Gumbo Limbo a showstopper on any hammock hike.  To stumble upon the early morning sun reflecting off of the trunk of a mature Gumbo, is heaven indeed.  The tree stands fifty feet at maturity and can have a trunk of three feet wide. 

The wood of the Gumbo Limbo has been used for everything from matches to carousel horses before plastics and molds became popular.  The common name comes from the African Bantu language and means “big shiny tree used for carving carousel horses”; well, we don’t really know what it means, but I bet it is something like that.  The leaves were also once used to make a tea, which in combination with a tea from the Lignum Vitae, was used to treat “weakness in men.”  I’m sure the tea worked wonderfully, but modern times have replaced it with protein shakes and daily trips to the gym. 

The Gumbo Limbo makes a perfect addition to any home landscape provided you have the space.  Remember when you plant a tree, to give the it the space it will need in years to come, not just for the present.  The Gumbo is a great starter tree if you are just beginning to build a landscape because of its fast growth rate.  I planted four ten-inch seedlings in my yard 18 months ago and they are now between 10 and 14 feet tall with four-inch trunks.  If you are going to plant a tree, I recommend a tree from seed rather than a tree propagated by cuttings.  Gumbo Limbo is famous for the ease in which cut branches root.  I have taken a three-foot by 10-inch trunk and planted it with success.  I eventually removed that tree in favor of a tree grown from seed.  Trees grown from seed have better root systems than trees from cuttings.  When a tree is grown from seed, the first thing it does is produce a large taproot.  This root is used for storage and anchorage and is not found on trees grown from cuttings.  Trees grown from seed also tend to have a better branch structure than trees from cuttings.  Cutting grown trees tend to grow very tall, very fast and tend to have fewer limbs than trees from seed.

If you are in the market for a Gumbo Limbo, many nurseries grow and sell this tree.  When buying from a nursery, be sure to ask if the tree is grown from seed or cutting and make sure the root system of the tree you are buying has not been overly constricted by the growing container.  Trees that are in containers for too long develop a condition known as root-binding or bench-rooting.  When this occurs, the tap-root is forced to wrap around itself because of the small size of the container.  This leads to a weak root system and a weak tree.  Another factor to consider when purchasing a tree is the size of the tree.  Because of the Gumbo’s quick growth rate, a small tree will quickly become a large tree and one should consider the benefits of the smaller tree.  A smaller tree is easier to plant and transport.  A smaller tree has less of a chance of getting root-bound.  A small tree will also be cheaper than a large one. 

Another way to get a Gumbo Limbo into your garden is to grow it yourself.  The Gumbo readily produces seed, which can be harvested and grown.  Growing from seeds is tricky, however, because the fruit are small and inconspicuous and hang on the tree a long time before they are mature.  I grow all of my Gumbos from volunteer trees that I find growing in landscapes.  Small seedlings can be easily uprooted and replanted in a container until they are large enough to plant out.  Look for Gumbo seedlings near mature Gumbos.  The MDCC Kendall campus parking lot is a great place to start.  Make sure you never take seedlings from natural areas as this is illegal and disturbs the next generation of mighty Gumbos.  If you decide to grow a Gumbo from a found seedling, remove the seedling gently with a trowel or small shovel.  Be sure to keep the tap-root intact.  Place a moist paper towel around the roots of the seedling and then place it in a Ziploc bag.  Keep the bag in shade until you can plant the seedling in a container.  If you are growing more than one tree, they can all be grown in the same container until they are older and moved into individual containers.  The soil should be well draining.  Water the container if the plants become too dry and grow in dappled sunlight.  If the roots begin to fill the container, it is time for a new container.  Once the seedlings reach 10-12 inches they are ready to plant out in your yard.  Try to match your planting date with the beginning of South Florida’s wet season, around June 1. 

The Gumbo Limbo is a fantastic South Florida native.  I encourage you to seek out this native tree and many more by venturing out and taking a short, or long, hike in the woods.  Now is a great time of year to visit the great outdoors because heat and mosquitoes are in short supply.

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by Martin Roessler

On February 23, 2008, we gathered at the Visitor Center, had a pleasant boat ride and botanized in coastal hammock, salt marsh and open edge habitats, guided by Steve Woodmansee.See the printed newsletter for a detailed field trip report.

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by Roger Hammer
[Reprinted from the March 1998 Tillandsia]

Locustberry, Byrsonima lucida, begins its flowering period.  This rounded shrub or small tree produces small flowers that open white, then turn pink, and finally crimson over the course of a few days.  The staggered flower creates clusters of multi-colored blossoms from March through May, but flowering may be extended into the summer.  Peach-colored fruit ripen in the summer.

If you are trying to create a backyard habitat with native plants and wish to make your planting even more enticing to birds, now if the time to clean (or build!) birdhouses.  Common urban South Florida birds that can be enticed into a manmade box include purple martins, red-bellied woodpeckers, great crested flycatchers, screech owls and Carolina wrens.

A visit this month to Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park will be rewarded with the showy, fragrant blossoms on buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and sweetbay, Magnolia virginiana.

Although they aren’t very showy, the flowers of sugarberry, Celtis laevigata, are only produced in South Florida during the month of March.  This is a temperate hammock tree in our flora.  To see a specimen (along with many other native trees and shrubs), visit the Mary Krome Bird Refuge at the northeast corner of Krome Avenue (SW 177 Ave) and Avocado Drive (SW 296 Street).  This property is owned by Florida Audubon and managed by Tropical Audubon Society.

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You’ll have a great selection of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and other herbs to purchase and Native Plant Day.  In addition to several plant vendors (Casey’s Corner Nursery, Veber’s Jungle Garden, The Institute for Regional Conservation, Steve Woodmansee), there will be plants grown by members and friends of the Dade Chapter FNPS.  One plant that will be in plentiful supply is Skyblue clustervine, Jacquemontia pentanthos, donated by chapter friend Joy McClafferty (with potting assistance by chapter member Mike Mooney). 

According to The IRC’s Natives for Your Neighborhood website (www.regionalconservation.org), skyblue clustervine can have stems 6 feet or more long and is a fast grower.  This member of the Convolvulaceae has 3/4” light blue flowers with a white throat and flowers all year.  (See the IRC web site for photos.)  It provides food for birds and is a nectar plant for several sphinx moths. Its natural habitat is hammock edges, thickets and marl prairies in Monroe through Miami-Dade and Collier Counties.  In your garden, it will prefer full sun and moist, well-drained limestone or calcareous sandy soils with a humusy top layer, but can grow in nutrient-poor soils.

The IRC says this plant has been planted outside its historic range, escapes cultivation, and can be aggressive in cultivation.  Use caution when planting near natural areas.  It volunteers readily in Joy’s garden (perhaps too readily!), but in gardens which do not have as much mulch and soil, it may not spread at all.  Perhaps the presence or absence of pollinators may also determine its spreading by seed -- it does not form seed in great abundance or volunteer in my garden.

Patty Phares

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

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

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 Chapter representative: Lynka Woodbury (305-667 1651x3427,  lwoodbury@fairchildgarden.org)

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

2008 FNPS membership rates: Donor $250, Business $125, Supporting $100, Contributing $75 ($25 to endowment), Non-Profit $50, Family $50, Individual $35, Student $15, Library $15, New Member $25, Gift $25, Lifetime $1000.

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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