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 2009

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! 

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



  • 14(Sat.): NATIVE PLANT DAY, A.D. Barnes Park in South Dade.  See program for details.
  • 17 (Tue.): Keys meeting in Marathon (program TBA)
  • 21 (Sat.): Field trip (Fern Forest in Broward County)
  • 24 (Tue.): Dade meeting (Restoring Tree Canopy)

April 2009

  • 5 (Sun.): Field trip (Frog Pond - use this issue for info!)
  • 11 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
  • 19 (Sun): EarthFest at Crandon Park - DCFNPS table
  • 21 (Tue.): Keys meeting - Key Largo (endangered species)
  • 25 (Sat.): FTBG Spring Sale - DCFNPS participates
  • 25 (Sat.): Keys Branch field trip (tentative)
  • 28(Tue.): Dade meeting (program TBA)

May 21-24: FNPS Annual Conference, Palm Beach Co.

See our online Calendar for more details and dates.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Corbin Building, 10901 Old Cutler Road.  Free and open to the public.  (4th not the last Tuesday!)  Refreshments begin at 7:15. Merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash/checks only).

"The Benefits of Urban Tree Canopy and the Miami-Dade Community Image Advisory Board's Efforts to Achieve a Healthy 30% Tree Canopy Density" - Christina M. Casado, Community Image Manager, Miami-Dade County Office of Community Image

South Florida has experienced severe losses to its tree canopy in recent years. Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma destroyed 11,000 trees in local parks alone, and other losses due to storms and citrus canker are estimated to be even greater.  Adequate tree canopy is vital to the environmental and economic well being of our community.  Tree canopy coverage is currently estimated to be at 12% countywide and as low as 1% in some areas.  By national standards, healthy metropolitan areas should have 25 to 35% to receive the many benefits that canopy can provide. 

The Community Image Advisory Board (CIAB) is a multi-agency body whose mission is to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors in Miami-Dade County by enhancing the aesthetic quality of the major gateways, roadways, public spaces, and corridors; by increasing and restoring tree canopy; by developing landscaping projects; and by promoting a cleaner and greener Miami-Dade County.  In collaboration with its member agencies, the CIAB is planting trees and establishing policy direction, through the County’s Street Tree Master Plan and its implementation.  Come join the discussion!

Ms. Casado directs the County’s beautification and urban greening program. She has spent the last few decades immersed in the study and protection of South Florida ecosystems.  She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Tufts University, a M.S. in Biology from the University of Missouri at St. Louis, and an M.B.A. from FIU.

We have an additional treat: Chris Sanchez, one of our 2009 Science Fair Award recipients, will make a short presentation on his project: "Interpreting the hydrological history of an Everglades wetland through microscopic characterization of phytoliths."   (Read more elsewhere in this issue.)

The raffle table has been a bit light the past couple months.  Please consider donating plants from your backyard nursery.  If you don't have any, try potting up a few volunteers from your yard and letting them grow for a few months until they are big enough for a raffle or sale.  The raffle proceeds go a long way toward paying the meeting room rent, and it's a great way to spread the natives!

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If the weather is very bad, call to confirm.  Collecting is not permitted. Children welcome. For carpooling, call Patty (305-255-6404) or Gwen (305-372-6569). Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their guests. Complete details are in the print newsletter - please join FNPS so you can enjoy all the activities!

Saturday, March 21, 2009: Fern Forest Nature Center.  Jenn Possley will help us identify many of the ferns discussed in her February program. This 247-acre wilderness acquired by Broward County in 1979 was once part of the Snapper Creek Watershed.  Its 10 plant communities include wet hardwood hammock with rare ferns (>30 species) and open prairie, as well as eroded limestone formations. 

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 many sites by visiting The Institute for Regional Conservation website at www.regionalconservation.org and entering the Floristic Inventory of South Florida online database.

Sunday, April 5, 8:30:  Frog Pond.  This area outside Everglades National Park was bought by the Water Management District in the 1990s to provide for restoration of Taylor Slough in ENP.  Most of it is being leased back to farmers but this part is an important glade, not ever rock plowed and in its natural condition. The pinnacle rock provides a wide range of environments for plants from upland to wetland habitats.  We will see early wildflowers and a high species diversity.

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These activities are organized by the Keys Branch members. All chapter members are welcome at all activities in Miami-Dade and the Keys. If you have questions, suggestions for a future program topic or field trip, or could help out, please contact Lisa Gordon, ledzepllg@bellsouth.net or 305-743-0978.  Your input would be greatly appreciated!   To receive email reminders for activities, please send your request to douville@bellsouth.net .

March 17 Meeting:  "Avoiding Garden Gremlins: Plants and Products to Keep Your Yard Island Friendly" - Alison Higgins, Land Conservation Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy of the FL Keys.  Alison has waged war on invasive exotic species in the Keys for over 10 years. She will talk about how to choose the right plants, caring for your garden in the most eco-friendly manner, and how to avoid “garden gremlins.”

March 21 Field Trip (tentative).  Details will be announced in the monthly email, or call Lisa.

April 21: Meeting in Key Largo. State Parks biologist Janice Duquesnel will talk about endangered plant species and a few projects that she is working on.

April 25: Field trip (tentative) to the Islamorada property that contains the Endangered Tree Cactus. 

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

A.D. Barnes Park
3401 SW 72 Avenue (Bird Road & SW 72 Ave.), Miami

Programs, Activities, Nature walks, Plant sales, Book sales,
Displays, Raffles, Children's activities
Schedule of activities will be available in February


Save the date and tell your friends!
Co-sponsored by DCFNPS & Miami-Dade County Parks


Members - If you can help out in any capacity (large or small!) please contact Amy Leonard at 305-458-0969 (preferably, after 3pm) or aleonar74@yahoo.com.

We still need your help!

A detailed schedule will be on http://dade.fnpschapters.org, but here is what you have to look forward to!

Short programs (20-minute)

Longer programs (45-minute)

Walks – easy pace and terrain

And more!

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DCFNPS needs a new chair for the science fair awards. The chapter is seeking someone with an interest in young people and science who can dedicate just a few hours in January and February 2010 to coordinating science fair judges and deciding on awards.  If you are interested (it's fun and easy!), please contact Jennifer Possley at jennpo@aol.com or 305-445-6108.

Chapter Workday at Everglades National Park: April 11, 9a.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 snacks to share.  New helpers, family and children are encouraged to come.  Everyone in your car gets into the park free after the workday -- and it's still a great time to enjoy it.

Chapter members are encouraged to be environmental advocates for Florida!  Just in time for the Florida legislative session, the Winter 2009 issue of Florida Fish and Wildlife News contains a very helpful article "Effective Communication With Your Legislators."  See www.fwfonline.org/news/ffwn/ffwn23-1.pdf, page 10.  Learn how to contact your legislators and to find information about the issues, guidelines for how to communicate with legislators and how to write letters or call them.  Thanks to Susan Walcutt (DCFNPS) for the tip!

From FNPS:

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By Jennifer Possley

2009 proved to be a very good year for native plants at the South Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair.  Each year, DCFNPS looks for one or two student projects upon which to bestow our George N. Avery award.  In January, we were pleased to find three students with research projects that prominently featured Florida native plants:  Christopher Sanchez, Victor Moas, and Rafael Moas.  Each student spoke fluently and enthusiastically about his project, and each has agreed to present his work at a monthly DCFNPS Meeting.  We encourage DCFNPS members to attend the students’ presentations; we found their research to be sophisticated and interesting.  Please continue reading to learn more about each student’s projects and see what date he will be speaking. 

The 2009 DCFNPS Science Fair Committee consisted of Lynka Woodbury, Rita Woodbury, Ted Shaffer, Hillary Burgess and Jennifer Possley.  The committee would like to thank Amy Leonard, Allyn Golub, and Patty Phares for their guidance.  

"Interpreting the hydrological history of an Everglades wetland through microscopic characterization of phytoliths" Christopher Allen Sanchez, Grade 11, Felix Varela Senior High School.  (Presentation to DCFNPS:  March 24, 2009)

A key to making future management decisions in Everglades restoration is understanding how the wetland responds to environmental changes and climate driven fluctuations in hydrology.  In order to reconstruct these historical changes, scientist use biological proxies such as sedimented pollen, fossilized seeds, and siliceous microfossils.  Soils containing an abundance of siliceous phytoliths indicate the existence of shallow wetland conditions and can be used to determine changes in precipitation, conductivity, and plant species composition.  The use of phytoliths can be tedious and have not been previously identified in Everglades macrophytes or soils.  As a result, this experiment is the first of two parts.  The objective of this project is to determine if phytoliths have been preserved and if a sufficient concentration is available for analysis.  I hypothesize that if samples from a soil core in the Everglades are oxidized and decanted, then subsequent microscopic analysis will reveal the presence of siliceous phytoliths of key Everglades vegetation.  In this experiment, a single soil core was oxidized with acid, neutralized, and then examined, under the microscope, for the presence of siliceous microfossils.  Preliminary results reveal the presence of phytoliths, diatoms, sclereids, and sponge spicules at all depths throughout the core and warrants proceeding with the second phase of the experiment.

Christopher has lived in Miami all his life. He is especially interested in biology and physics and plans on a career in medicine. His hobbies include running and reading.  He has worked with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research for about 3 years, and worked closely with them at FIU to complete his project. Ever since then  he has been devoted to helping the Everglades and looks forward to continuing his work with phytoliths and putting together the pieces of the huge puzzle that is Everglades restoration.

At the April 28 meeting we will hear from the other two award recipients.  Their project descriptions and biographies will appear in the April Tillandsia.

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Upcoming environmental events in the Keys:

Friends of the Gifford Arboretum, Univ. of Miami. Free! For more info:  305-284-5364 or www.bio.miami.edu/arboretum.  Tour: March 26, 5 pm. “Trees gone wild! Plant sex and other rites of spring.”  Meet at the stone bench in the ArboretumSave the date! April 16, 7 pm. The 21st Annual Gifford Arboretum Lecture: “Disentangling one of Darwin's greatest mysteries: The story of climbing plants” by Dr. Lucia Lohmann, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. 

Dade Native Plant Workshop.  New location: MDC Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Bring at least 3 flowering/fruiting plants of any species (even if not the subject matter). Mar. 17: Trees of the Florida Keys. Contact Steve, 305-595-5541, Stevewoodmansee@bellsouth.net ;www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp   Free!

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meets at the Agricultural Extension Service, 3245 College Ave., Davie.  954-370-3725 or www.npsbroward.org.  Mar. 11: "Landscaping with Florida Natives" - Bill Reeve, Davie Botanical Visions.  Apr. 8: Speaker is Carol Morgenstern, Broward Parks. 7pm social time, 7:30 meeting.  The Native Plant Workshop, first Sat., 9am, Secret Woods. Contact Molly (954-989-1417, motaylor@broward.org .

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

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park -- The Delicate Balance of Nature 18th Annual Lecture Series. Wednesdays, through March, 7:30-8:30pm at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, MM 102.5 Oceanside, Overseas Highway. Free. Gate opens at 7 p.m.  Limited seating.   (305)451-9570.

Miami-Dade Parks Natural Areas workdays.  RSVP at 305-257-0933 x227, eel@miamidade.gov.  Students earn Community Service Hours and others earn the heartfelt thanks of Miami-Dade County. 9am-noon. Mar. 14: Kendall Indian Hammocks, 11345 SW 79 St (air potato removal).  Mar, 27: Ned Glenn Pineland, SW 87 Ave & 188 St.  (nature walk, cleanup).

Baynanza 2009 - Biscayne Bay Cleanup Day, April 18.  Join thousands of volunteers for the largest local shoreline cleanup of its kind and learn important lessons about the effects of pollution.  At one of the 29 cleanup sites, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park-South, volunteers can also help TREEmendous Miami plant native plants.  Space is limited at each site, so register as soon as possible at 305-372-6784 or www.miamidade.gov/derm  

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NURSERY NEWS: Shop at Native Plant Day! 

There will be more species available at Native Plant Day on March 14 than ever before, thanks to the four nurseries participating and the members of DCFNPS who are donating plants.  These include everything from common trees and shrubs to rarely-available wildflowers, grasses (the up-and-coming landscape plants to be seen with!) and assorted herbs.   Shop early, leave your plants in the holding area and enjoy the day!  Here are a few that might interest you. Learn more about these plants at www.regionalconservation.org  - Natives For Your Neighborhood (NFYN) or in books.  (The colorful descriptions are by Steve Woodmansee (SW), and the rest are compiled by the editor from NFYN). 

Splitbeard bluestem (Andropogon ternatius). This clumping grass is a common understory plant in pinelands. 2-4' tall but 6' when in flower.  Use as a base for your wildflower garden or in your mini-pineland. Grows in moist to dry low-nutrient soil and does not spread aggressively.  Cut back the attractive bluish-red leaves after flowering.  Possible larval food for some butterflies.

Butterfly pea (Centrosema virginiana). This attractive vignette, goes unnoticed in the wild, unless it is flowering.  A stunning pink flower ranging from the size of a bottle cap, to the size of a fifty-cent piece, is a favorite among pollinators.  Being a larval host plant for the Northern Cloudywing and Longtailed Skipper butterflies, sometimes the flowers are consumed by those naughty little buggers. (SW)

Dwarf Rattlebox (Crotalaria pumila).   A lovely suffrutescent herb that may cover large sunny areas if permitted.  This wildflower possesses clusters of yellow pea-shaped flowers with red stripes on the underside. These "stripes" are nectar guides for bees and butterflies.  An added bonus is that it is the larval host plant for the striking Bella Moth, a day time moth with folded wings that are gray, black, and pink glamorously portrayed when it takes flight. (SW)

Shortleaf fig (Ficus citrifolia).  The name "ficus" usually makes one think either "huge tree that eats your sewer line" or "uncool non-native."  But this important hammock tree is less imposing than the native strangler fig, usually has a single trunk, and produces aerial roots less frequently than the strangler fig.  It is a wildlife magnet: a larval host plant for ruddy daggerwing butterflies, Edwards' wasp and fig sphinx moths; pollinated by a host-specific wasp (Pegascapus assuetis); and  the little figs are eaten by Cedar waxwings and other birds.  If you have space for a 30-40' tree (eventually can be 70') you'll love this.

Pineland Heliotrope (Heliotropium polyphyllum).  This plant is mentioned in butterfly books as an excellent nectar plant, but is only now and again in the South Florida native plant trade.  A perennial herb that flowers year-round, it possesses clusters of yellow flowers and is a great new addition to any butterfly or wildflower garden. (SW)

Joewood (Jacquinia keyensis).  Shrub which is common in the Keys, where it is found in the ecotone between mangrove swamp and hammocks, but rare elsewhere.  It is compact, 4-10' and slow-growing. The flowers are very fragrant and are followed by a yellow to orange berry.  Use as a specimen shrub.

Wild dilly (Manikara jaimiqui subsp. emarginata).  Common tree/shrub in the Keys but rare in Dade where it is native only to the shores of FL Bay and islands in Biscayne Bay.  It grows slowly to about 20'.  It is related to Sapodilla; its fruit is food for wildlife and edible by people.  The deeply fissured bark provides an interesting appearance.

Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata).  An herb native to most of southeast US, this mint relative has a strong herbal odor when leaves are crushed.  The flowers are whitish lavender with purple spots and are subtended by showy pinkish-white bracts.  You will need a flyswatter to keep the butterflies off its flowers. (SW)

Candyweed, Showy milkwort (Polygala grandiflora).  This perennial wildflower grows in moist to dry nutrient poor soils. Its small pink flowers are similar to miniature orchids, but once you accept that "grandi" refers only to the size relative to other milkworts, you will appreciate and love this cute little flower.

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis).  This tall, broad shrub needs moist-wet soils, grows fast in nutrient-poor soil, has a showy white flower all year and juicy black fruits which are great for wildlife and to make wines and jams.  The flower head is also edible (fried).  Sounds kinda fun!

Florida boxwood (Schaefferia frutescens).  This small tree or large shrub is typically 10-20'.  It is uncommon in the wild, and in Miami-Dade is native to hammocks around Elliott Key and to Brickell Hammock.  It has a small red fruit, prefers light shade and can be used as an accent shrub or in a barrier planting.

Florida ironweed (Vernonia blodgettii).   This wildflower in pinelands and marl prairies likes moist soil (the typical soil of most yards, which holds moisture a while after rain) and grows in nutrient poor soils.  Lovely pink flowers in summer-fall, perennial (comes back after it dies back each year), and you can collect seed to grow more.

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By Martin Roessler

On January 31, 2009 members of the Dade Chapter FNPS and Native Plant Workshop visited the rocky pineland preserve and small hammock at the Ned Glenn Pineland Preserve and the wetland restoration and hardwood hammock areas of the Bill Sadowski Dade County Park. The list of plants observed to be in flower one or both sites is in the print newsletter. The list also includes ferns observed at Ned Glenn.

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President: Robert Harris, 954-651-4176, xkensington6x@yahoo.com

General information:  786-340-7914

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

Memberships: Patty Phares (305-255-6404)

DCFNPS Web page: http://dade.fnpschapters.org
Webmaster: Greg Ballinger (Greg_Ballinger@excite.com)

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) office : 321-271-6702, info@fnps.org

Tillandsia editor: Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com)
Co-editor: Vacant (applications being accepted!)  

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
FNPS board:   Lynka Woodbury Past-President:  Amy Leonard

mailing address:

Dade Chapter FL Native Plant Society
6619 South Dixie Highway, #181
Miami FL 33143-7919

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.

© 1999-2009 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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