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!

| past newsletters |

June 2008

In This Issue

CONTENTS

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.

ACTIVITIES-AT-A-GLANCE

June

  • 7 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
  • 24 (Tue.): Meeting in Dade.  "South Florida Horticulture" - Jeff Wasielewski.  Learn how to plant and maintain your landscape.
  • 29 (Sun.): Dade field trip - Amelia Earhart Park

July

  • 12 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades Nat Park
  • 19 (Sat.): Evening yard visit and social meeting (in place of meeting at Fairchild) for members and their guests.

August

  • 2 (Sat.): Dade field trip - The Barnacle and other sites.
  • 9 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades Nat Park

Keys Branch activities will resume in November!

See our online Calendar for more details and dates.

NEXT MEETING IN DADE COUNTY

Tuesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Corbin Building, 10901 Old Cutler Road.  Free and open to the public. Refreshments begin at 7:15; merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash/checks only).

"Growing Great Natives from A to Xeriscape"
- Jeff Wasielewski, Horticultural Consultant

Jeff will cover everything you need to know to turn your yard into a lush garden paradise. Topics will include South Florida soils, plant selection, planting, benefits of mulching, watering, pest control and low maintenance yards. Jeff is a certified arborist and horticultural consultant.  You can visit his website at www.southfloridahorticulture.com or read his monthly column in Family magazine.  He has his own garden paradise with a mix of natives and exotics, and a water feature.  Jeff has been working with and studying plants for 16 years.  He has a degree in horticulture from MDC and a Master's in Education from UM.  He teaches horticulture at Fairchild and MDC and has presented numerous programs for chapter meetings and Native Plant Day.  His full time job is as a reading coach for Miami-Dade Public Schools.  Jeff is the proud father of a seven year old junior horticulturist, Samantha. He was drawn to horticulture in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew -- he loved being outside to clean up!

July meeting - not the usual night or place.  Our annual Evening Yard Visit & Social Meeting (for members and their guests) is Saturday, July 19, 6-8 p.m. at a member’s home in the Redland.  Details in the July Tillandsia. Preview: potluck, family invited, swimming pool available, lush planted hammock, deep pond and more.  If you went to the yard visit there 2 years ago, you'll want to see the current version!

| To top of Page |

UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS (DADE)

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, June 29: Amelia Earhart Park, 9 a.m. - noon.

This park has never been visited by DCFNPS, but it contains freshwater wetlands in the northern portions.  Although disturbed, there are many species not found in the southern parts of Miami-Dade County, so it should prove interesting. http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/Parks/amelia_earhart.asp  

Post-field trip suggestion:

Gratigny Expressway interchange, NW 138th St and Palmetto Exwy.  Site of award-winning wetlands restoration/landscape designed by Landscape Architect Chuck Alden (at the time a Miami-Dade resident and DCFNPS member) and sponsored by Florida DOT. Regional natives were planted on 6.5 acres of wetland and 15 of upland beginning in 1990.  FDOT has not maintained it recently and the local Expressway authority has not picked up maintenance, so exotics are now invading.  From NW 122 St., go north on the frontage road east of the Palmetto to 138 St., turn right, go 100 yards, park on the right.

Upcoming on Saturday, August 2: The Barnacle (Coconut Grove), Pinewood Cemetery (South Gables), lunch in between.

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.

| To top of Page |

ACTIVITIES IN THE KEYS

To receive email reminders, please send your request douville@bellsouth.net

Keys Branch activities will resume in November!

| To top of Page |

REPORT OF CHAPTER ANNUAL MEETING

At the May 27 meeting of the Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, the members present voted to accept the slate for Board of Directors (2008-2010 terms) as presented:

President: Robert Harris
Vice-President: Ted Schaeffer
Directors At-Large: Keith Bradley, Patty Harris, Jose Luciani

Ted Schaeffer and Patty Harris were at-large board members this past term, and Robert Harris was Vice-President. Keith Bradley is a former chapter president, while Jose is new to the board.

Almost twenty years ago, my father was a member of the DCFNPS. The plants he brought home from the raffles and planted in our yard drew me to pursue my hobby in native plants. I initially joined the society when still in high school. I came back to the society after completing college in 2003 and rejoined. I started volunteering with plant sales and Native Plant Day and eventually became Vice-President two years ago. I encourage the membership to volunteer as much as they can. It leads to the greatest sense of satisfaction and is probably the best way to expand one’s horizons in the field of South Florida native plants.  I have enjoyed my time serving on the board and have learned a great deal from its wonderful members. I look forward to continuing our society’s work and serving its members over the duration of my term.
- Robert Harris, President

The bylaws were amended to conform to what has been traditional practice of the chapter in recent years. The annual reports from the Treasurer will appear in the Tillandsia and will summarize all financial transactions for the year. Additionally, the bylaws now state who will sit on the Budget Committee, which is tasked with preparing a budget for the Chapter Board to approve prior to the start of the fiscal year.  The Budget Committee will be made up of the Treasurer, President, Vice-President and one other director who the President will appoint.

A big thank you to Jennifer Possley, our Chapter's past-Treasurer who proposed these by law changes. The Budget Committee is but one of the Chapter's many committees that you might like to join to serve the Chapter using your special talents.  Contact any member of the Board if you'd like to get even just a little bit more involved with the Chapter sometime soon!
 - Amy Leonard, Past President

Please welcome and support the entire board.  Continuing for the remainder of their terms through May 2009 are:  Jonathan Taylor (Secretary), Mark Bolla (Treasurer), Jan Kolb, Susan Walcutt, Lynka Woodbury (Directors at Large).  Amy Leonard is also a board member as Past-President.  Thanks to Steve Woodmansee, who retires as Past-President but will continue to serve as a knowledgeable resource and lead field trips.  One At-Large position filled was that left vacant by the death of Mary Ann Bolla, who was a valued board member.

New board member bio: Keith Bradley was born and raised in Miami where he was exposed to the local flora and fauna at an early age by his parents and grandfather.  Since 1995 he has worked for The Institute for Regional Conservation, where he is currently Assistant Director, and works to preserve the biodiversity of South Florida.  He is a past-president of the Dade Chapter of the FNPS (1998-2000), previously serving as Vice-President, and was chairman of the FNPS State Conference Committee for the 2000 conference hosted by the Dade Chapter.  He is Chair of the Pine Rockland Working Group, and Chair of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Plant List Committee.  (He is also a jokester who claims to have sprung from Rachel Carson and Andy Warhol, and to have begun learning plant taxonomy as soon as he started breathing, which we don't dispute.)

In a future issue we will introduce Jose Luciani, a student at FIU, who is away for a few weeks.  Biographies for returning board members may be found in past online newsletters at http: //dade.fnpschapters.org (July/Aug 2006 and 2007, Sept. 2006).
- Patty Phares, Tillandsia Editor

| To top of Page |

FNPS AND CHAPTER NEWS AND NEEDS

Chapter Workday at Everglades National Park: July 12, 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 afternoon in the park - your car gets in free after the workday. Contact Gwen Burzycki (305-372-6569) for more info.

Can you help fold chapter newsletters -- once in a while?  With a group or by yourself.  Especially July 2-3. Please contact Jan Kolb (305-378-6104 or jankolb123@yahoo.com ).

Can you be an assistant/ co/ alternate Web Master for the chapter web site?  Give Greg Ballinger -- who does a bang-up job 10 issues a year plus a Native Plant Day spread (thank you, Greg!) -- help or a break.  Please contact him via the web site.

Welcome new members!  In Dade: George and Ana Baixauli, Margie Bauer, Yvonne and Douglas Beckman, Shirley Berckmans, Sara Lane Conde, Nanci Jones, Alice Keller, Elizabeth Kelly, Bekky Leonard, Jose Luciani (Student), Beth Milne,  Ileana Rabelo (Rabelo Landscaping & Nursery, Inc), Sarah Rawlings (Student), Juan and Laura Valdez-Roselione (Contributing), Randy and Kerry Waldrep.

In The Keys: Kathleen Carr, Leslie Whaylen Clift, Deb Curlee.

Newsletter (Members of other FNPS chapters): Gayle Kolasa (Broward), Tom Gire (Palm Beach).

| To top of Page |

Paid Advertising - Your Ad Here!

| To top of Page |

OTHER NEWS AND EVENTS

Dade Native Plant Workshop.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m., at the Deering Estate, just east of Old Cutler Road on SW 168 St. Bring at least 3 flowering/fruiting plants of any species (even if not the subject matter). June 17: Wetlands - Eleocharis (spike rushes).  See www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp  or contact Steve Woodmansee (305-595-5541, Stevewoodmansee@bellsouth.net )

KENWOODS Learning Center native planting area needs your help to rescue it from exotic invasives.  Please contact DCFNPS member Henry Block, Response Team Coordinator, for the workday schedule (miamiblocks@bellsouth.net  or 786 877-4509). For those not familiar with KENWOODS, it will give you a chance to get some insight into the trials and tribulations of a 22 year old award-winning schoolyard planting project.  For veterans and old friends, we will have plenty of time to reminisce.  Kenwood K-8 school is on SW 79th St, about 1/4 mile south of Kendall Drive.  (Also a good place for birding!)

Miami-Dade Parks is requesting to make a substantial deviation to plans at Miami-Dade Zoological Park to increase the area and add new uses.  (Read that: "This affects pinelands!")  Zoning Hearings, Tuesday, June 17, 6 pm, South Dade Gov't Center, 19710 SW 211 St.; Thursday, July 3, 9:30 am at the Board of County Commissioners Chambers.

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  See www.miamiblue.org  or contact Elane Nuehring, 305-666-5727 or miamiblue@bellsouth.net).  June 21, July 19: Butterfly counts, several locations. July 25-27: Butterfly Days at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Butterfly plants for sale, kids' butterfly activities, educational displays, lectures by national and international experts, on many aspects of butterflies. This year's theme is "The Blue Butterflies" and their life-styles. 

The Institute for Regional Conservation. June 14, 9 am: Join Biologist Steven Green in restoration of Camp Choee (11347 SW 160 St). Contact green@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.  

| To top of Page |

NEWS FROM THE FNPS CONFERENCE

The FNPS Annual Conference in Palmetto on May 15-18 was attended by at least 20 Dade chapter members hailing from Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward Counties.  Several were vendors or speakers or attended FNPS committee meetings, while others were there just to learn and enjoy the event. One young member attended the Children's Conference.  Congratulations to the following for their achievements!

Steve Woodmansee was elected Vice-President for Finance. He is a DCFNPS member who you already know well!

Wes Brooks received 2 awards (in absentia).  Wes is a graduate student at Rutgers who continues to be active in his home town on his frequent visits.  He has been a member of DCFNPS since joining as a Killian high school student.

Conservation Grant Award ($2500): "Establishing an Experimental Hammock Community in South Florida"
   This project is sponsored by the Dade Chapter and will be conducted by Wes Brooks as part of the research he is conducting to receive a Ph.D. in Ecology from Rutgers University.  The project will take place on a  4-acre woodlot that prior to the lowering of the regional water table with the dredging out of Snapper Creek Canal was likely an ecotonal interface between mesic hammock, tranverse glade, and pine rockland communities.  The site is owned by the county and is adjacent to the county's 110-acre Kendall Indian Hammocks Park and has been heavily invaded by exotic species, most notably Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthefolius), Shoe-button Ardisia (Ardisia elliptica), Rosary Peas (Abrus precatorius), and Burma Reed (Neyraudia reynaudiana), along with other escapees from an adjacent nursery.  Exotic species will be removed, and permanent study plots will be established and monitored monthly to assess whether species richness and plant density (manipulated in each plot by planting additional native trees and shrubs) affect the recruitment and growth of other natives, as well as invasive exotics.  A display board highlighting the project, including the importance of the results to conservation of county lands and the contribution of FNPS, will be erected for public viewing at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.  The county will assist in the eradication and control of exotic species.

Landscape Award:  Residential, Homeowner Design
   This "mini-restoration" designed by Wes Brooks is the product of a trial and error approach with the goal of combining a diverse assortment of plants within a natural landscape setting in an extremely small space (Rockland Hammock communities are great for this!).  In all, over 200 native plant species have been "re-introduced" to the zero-lot line property in Kendall since 1999, with all exotics (including the lawn) having long since been removed with the amazing patience (early on!!!) of the property's owner- Wes' mother, Ana.  The benefits of the landscaping have included reduced energy bills, reduced yard flooding during storms, and many visits by native insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals not seen on the property before 1999. 

Endowment Research Grant Awards ($2500). Two of the three awards out of 27 applications went to students from Miami-Dade County.  The project summaries here are brief condensations of their proposals.  Please email the editor if you would like to read the complete applications, which are both very interesting.

Tania Wyss came from Switzerland to the University of Miami as a graduate student in August 2006.  She is interested in mycorrhizae and how they affect the establishment of plants, in particular, the Dade County pine because it is native and its populations tend to decline. She is studying with Dr. David Janos, who presented a program for DCFNPS in 2006.

"Do mycorrhizal fungi limit the establishment of Pinus elliottii var. densa seedlings?
Pinus elliottii var. densa is the keystone species of pine-rocklands which today cover less than 3% of their original area in South Florida. Pinelands are declining because of human activities such as clearing for urban development and changes in fire regime. Additional factors, however, might affect pines. The two most widespread types of mycorrhizas, ectomycorrhizas (ECM) and arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM), differ in the structures they form on and inside host roots, and in the benefits they offer to host plants. In pine-rocklands in South Florida and pine flatwoods in Central Florida, the canopy composed of South Florida slash pine forms ECM while understory plants such as saw palmetto form AM. The research main objective is to determine if ECM and AM fungi limit pine seedling establishment in palmetto flatwoods from which adult pines are absent.

Beyte Barrios was born in a small town in Cuba and grew up with a wealth of nature.  She is now a Master’s student at FIU in the plant ecology lab of Dr. Suzanne Koptur.  She studied Biology at the University of Havana, Cuba, and was a student assistant at the National Botanical Garden in Havana. She especially loves ferns and became able to recognize the species by their spores and determine the viability of the spores by their shape.  In Pinar del Rio, Cuba, she worked at The Natural History Museum as a research assistant.  After coming to Florida, she was a Biological Technician with the USGS at Big Cypress National Preserve working on research in vegetation and fire ecology of Cape Sable seaside sparrow habitat.  As a Teaching Assistant at FIU and recent immigrant, Beyte encourages minority students to see the many opportunities in biology beside medical school.  She intends to use her skills and knowledge to advance the conservation of our natural environment.

"Fire, flowering, and fragmentation: The effects of seasonal fire on the reproductive biology of pineland allamanda (Angadenia berteroi), a rare shrub of the pine rocklands." Habitat fragmentation and destruction of the natural environment affect many aspects of the organisms and their life in it. Fragmentation negatively affects communities by reducing and isolating populations. The pine rockland ecosystem in sub-tropical south Florida has been reduced and fragmented, so only a small portion remains intact, scattered among many small patches. Fire is a vital force essential to the existence of the pine-land ecosystem. Seasonal burns influence the vegetation structure and species composition. Pine rockland plants have several adaptations to fire: some herbs and shrubs resprout and grow rapidly after fire, other respond to burns with improved growth, flowering, seed germination, and establishment of seedlings.  Angadenia berteroi is a native perennial shrub listed as threatened by FDACS.  We will quantify the effect of seasonal fires (summer vs. winter) on the reproductive phenology of Angadenia berteroi in intact extensive pine rockland habitat in Everglades National Park. We will compare pollination, herbivory, seed predation and fruit initiation of A. berteroi in habitat fragments of different sizes and degrees of isolation from intact habitat.

| To top of Page |

NATIVE NIGHT NIBBLES

Thanks to all those tireless volunteers who have helped put yummy-in-our-tummy via the refreshment table at our monthly meetings in Dade.  Sometimes when you’re coming to our meetings straight from a hectic day of work, a munchie and time to chat with old and new friends is just what the doctor ordered.  You’ll have to admit, sometimes there have been some pretty outstanding efforts.  We’ve had some real goofs - what do you mean you forgot the cups! - and we’ve had some spectacular themes - remember Mardi Gras? - or were you astounded when you found out you’d just eaten cactus?

But the folks who count the most are those who faithfully bring the old standbys that we’ve all come to love - Woody’s deviled eggs and Jo’s sweet potato pies, Marge’s famous brownies and Sue’s homemade quick breads.  Month after month there are people like Mary who offer “just let me know what I can bring to help.”  Eve, Suzanne, Bea, Donna, Lisa, Gwlady, Linda, Carrie, Lauren, Susan, Bobbe, Britton, Lee, Jim and Vivian have added their personalities in their contributions to the splendid table.

I would be remiss to leave out those hands behind the scenes who help to set up and take down, without fail: Carl, Robin and Daniel.  But let me also thank those who have contributed just plan ole cash to help defray some of the costs.  They would be embarrassed if I mentioned their names, so I will just give them a heartfelt “thanks,” because they know who they are.

As chair of the Refreshment Committee, I sometimes get all the credit, but I couldn’t have done it without you who sign up monthly to contribute to the table.  Here’s hoping you’ll continue to contribute, and that new hands to step up and offer to ‘play with the refreshment folks.’  Happy Summer to all, and keep those ants out of the potato salad, will 'ya (that’s an inside joke).
- Patty Harris, Board Member, Refreshment Coordinator

| To top of Page |

FAIRCHILD LAUNCHES THE CONNECT TO PROTECT NETWORK (CTPN)

By Joyce Maschinski and Scott Lewis

Plants give us our sense of place in the world. Endemic plants (those that occur only in a specific place or region) are treasures that help make our community unique. Among South Florida’s precious gems that distinguish it as a special place in the world are its Pine Rocklands and the rare plants that inhabit them. Pine Rocklands are a globally endangered ecosystem, occurring only in South Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba. They are known by their tall South Florida slash pines (Pinus elliotii var. densa) and saw palmettos (Serenoa repens), and they support 374 kinds of native plants, of which 31 are endemic, five are listed as federally endangered, and five are candidates for listing. 

Rapid development in South Florida has endangered Pine Rocklands and their rare species.  Once found extensively on limestone uplands from North Miami Beach to Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park, today less than 2% of Pine Rocklands remain as small fragments. Many of these remnants are protected by the Miami-Dade Natural Areas Management (NAM) and Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) programs, but some remain on unprotected public and private land. 

At Fairchild, we are concerned about the persistence of the rare and common plants of Pine Rocklands.  Their high biodiversity provides us with ecosystem services, such as fresh air, clean water and productive soils; food, medicines and natural products that keep us healthy; economic benefits that maintain a vigorous economy; and natural beauty for a higher quality of life.

Scientists know that when habitats are fragmented, there are negative consequences for rare species. In the case of Pine Rocklands, plant populations become isolated and shrink in size.  This reduces the opportunities for pollinators to find flowers, which in turn may decrease seed production and the genetic health of these populations. Thus, rare plants in Pine Rocklands become more vulnerable to catastrophic events such as hurricanes, from which recovery becomes increasingly less likely.

To aid Pine Rockland plants, Fairchild launched a new project with funding support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our goal is to create corridors or stepping stones between existing Pine Rocklands to improve their health. Creating connections among fragments will shorten the distance that bees, butterflies and birds must travel to move seeds and pollen across developed areas. The interchange of seeds and pollen improve gene flow, the genetic health of native plant species, and the likelihood that these species will persist over the long term. 

Meeting this goal will require planting many native Pine Rockland species.  In preparation, we have collected seeds of Pine Rockland plants to learn about their germination, storage and cultivation requirements.  We have collaborated with The Fairchild Challenge to engage students in helping to restore Pine Rockland habitats and plant Pine Rockland native gardens on their school grounds.  In the 2007 Fairchild Challenge contest, for example, Miami Palmetto High School student Yunxin Jiao designed the winning logo and suggested the slogan, “Connect to Protect” for our initiative.  Students have also submitted posters describing the role that corridors can play to help pollinators move among Pine Rockland natural areas.

To realize this dream fully will require participation of many volunteers as well as public and private landowners.  Why should YOU join our effort to connect Pine Rocklands? 

Besides preserving biodiversity and helping the rarest plant species in South Florida, joining the Connect To Protect Network can benefit you and our community in other ways.  In these times of water restrictions and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, planting or maintaining native plants in your landscape reduces water use, installation and maintenance costs and fuel use.  Studies by University of Florida researchers indicate that using native plants in landscapes can significantly lower expenses; installation costs were reduced by one-third and maintenance costs by over three-quarters in a study that compared landscaping with native wildflowers versus using St. Augustine turf grass.  Generally native plants do not require as many pesticides, fertilizers, mowing or trimming as other plants. After establishment, native plants may not require additional water.  Reducing the use of pesticide, fertilizer, and gas-powered equipment will improve water quality, cut air pollution and shrink our carbon footprint. 

Help us protect Pine Rocklands for future generations.  You can participate in the CTPN if you have existing Pine Rockland habitat on your property or wish to restore Pine Rockland plants in a garden on your property within Pine Rockland boundaries in Miami-Dade County. In 2008, as our funding allows, Fairchild is committed to helping interested participants in these ways:

  1. give presentations to your organization on CTPN's purpose
  2. assist with organizing and training volunteers to help clean up your Pine Rockland site and plant Pine Rockland species
  3. provide you with some Pine Rockland plants from our nursery
  4. advise on ways to maintain your Pine Rockland plants
  5. put you in contact with other CTPN members for support

For information about joining the Connect to Protect Network, contact: Scott Lewis, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, slewis@fairchildgarden.org   305-667-1651 X 3411.

| To top of Page |

 FIELD TRIP TO SEMINOLE WAYSIDE PARK 

by Martin Roessler

On April 19, 2008, we visited Seminole Wayside Park, a 28 acre pine rockland managed by Miami-Dade County Parks. It contains rockland pine habitat, hardwood hammock or coppice habitat, and a cleared area for picnicking.  See the printed newsletter for a detailed field trip report.

| To top of Page |

BLUEBERRIES IN MIAMI?

by Steven W.  Woodmansee

While shopping at my local grocery store, I bought some blueberries to make a pie for Mother’s Day.  I was surprised at how expensive they were, even on sale.  Even more startling was that they were grown in Winter Haven, Florida.  I was unaware that blueberries are grown commercially in Florida, but thinking it over my start lent its way to reason, given how many native species occur here. I am uncertain what species I purchased (they were delicious), but I was reminded of another blueberry which is found in our own Miami-Dade County. 

Blueberries are in the heath family (Ericaceae), a temperate plant family whose species usually grow in acidic, nutrient poor, soils.  Thirty-three species in the Ericaceae are in Florida, five in the genus Vaccinium, the taxonomic group blueberries are found in. One species, Vaccinium myrsinites, or shiny blueberry, is found in the sandy soils of pineland communities in Miami-Dade. 

photo of shiny blueberriesShiny blueberry grows to about 2 feet in height, and possesses a profusion of white urn-shaped flowers that hang down and are white in color with hues of pink.  Fruits are dark-blue to black when ripe and measure ¼ inch across.  Mature fruits are quite tasty, and for some reason, they taste better when exposed to sunlight on the plant.  Leaves are small (less than ½ inch long) and have stalked glands apparent when viewed with a loupe (hand lens).  Shiny blueberry possesses underground stems that spread horizontally, creating patches of plants.

In Miami-Dade, shiny blueberry today grows in sandy pockets of pine rockland, mesic flatwoods, and scrubby flatwoods plant communities.  Plants need full sun, and are difficult to grow unless soils are non-alkaline.  If you are fortunate to obtain a plant, it is recommended to grow it in acidic sandy soil, and to not water it with well or tap water which are too alkaline for its tastes.  Rather, use rainwater, or if not available, distilled water.  As with all pineland plants, mulch is not recommended, but pine needles may be used to help acidify the soil.  Although not a commonly cultivated species, it would make a great addition to one’s yard, especially when restoring a pineland and where appropriate conditions occur.  Imagine having fresh blueberries in the late spring, right before the mangoes and Lychees begin to ripen.  What a wondrous place we live in…

| To top of Page |

KEY CONTACTS FOR DCFNPS:

President: Robert Harris, 954-651-4176, xkensington6x@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)

Dade Chapter Board members:

President: Robert Harris  Vice-President: Ted Shaffer
Secretary: Jonathan Taylor  Treasurer: Mark Bolla
At Large: Patty Harris,  Jan Kolb,  Susan Walcutt, Jose Luciani, Keith Bradley
FNPS board:   Lynka Woodbury Past-President:  Amy Leonard

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.

© 1999-2008 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

| To top of Page |

Past Online Newsletters