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 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.


June 2009

  • 13 (Sat): Field trip - Tamiami Pineland addition
  • 20 (Sat): Chapter workday at Everglades National Park.
  • 23 (Tue): Dade meeting (History of South Florida)

July 2009

  • 18 (Sat.): Chapter workday at Everglades National Park
  • 25-26 (Sat-Sun): Butterfly Days at Fairchild (DCFNPS display table)
  • 28 (Tue): Annual "Summer Evening Yard Visit and Social Meeting" (no meeting at Fairchild)

August 2009

  • TBA - field trip (Hattie Bauer Hammock, South Dade - the former "Orchid Jungle")
  • 15 (Sat.): Chapter workday at Everglades National Park

Mark your calendars now!
May 13-16 2010:  FNPS conference in Tallahassee

The Keys Branch is on vacation until November.

See our online Calendar for more details and dates.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 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).  Plant raffle follows the program.

(Note: The meeting is the 4th Tuesday, not the last.)

"The Human and Natural History of South Florida" - Roger Hammer, Miami-Dade Parks.

Naturalist and author Roger Hammer will present a program on the history of South Florida, covering the time when South Florida became available for colonization by plants and animals, to the present. The talk includes the influences of people like Juan Ponce de Leon, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle, Henry Perrine, and some early botanists.

Roger is Senior Interpretive Naturalist, Miami-Dade Parks Department, and Manager of Castellow Hammock Nature Center, since 1977.  He is also a frequent speaker, instructor and field trip leader, wildflower photographer and author of three books: Everglades Wildflowers" (2000), Florida Keys Wildflowers" (2002) and Exploring Everglades National Park and The Surrounding Area" (2004).  He was recipient of the first Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award presented by the Dade Chapter FNPS in 1982 for outstanding, consistent and constant service in the areas of education, research, promotion and preservation of native plants" and a Green Palmetto Award for Education from the FNPS in 2003.

Please bring raffle plants!  You can pot up volunteers from your yard and let them grow for a few months until they are big enough for a raffle or sale.  The raffle helps pay the meeting room rent and provides an opportunity for you to share many natives that are not common in the nursery trade.

July 28: Summer Evening Yard Visit and Social Meeting (no meeting at Fairchild).  This potluck dinner and yard visit will be held in a preserved hammock near the Deering Estate at Cutler. Details in July.

| To top of Page |


If the weather is very bad, call to confirm.  Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their guests. Collecting is not permitted. Children welcome. For carpooling, call Gwen (305-372-6569) or Patty (305-255-6404).

Saturday, June 13, 2009: Tamiami Complex Pineland Addition in Kendall.  9am-noon. This conservation land was acquired by the Miami-Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program and consists of eight acres of pine rockland and marl prairie habitat.  Most of the preserved burned in a March, 2009, wildfire, providing an excellent opportunity now to see many species of wildflowers in bloom.

| To top of Page |


Welcome to three new board members elected for 2009-2011 terms at the chapter's Annual Meeting in May! (See their biographies below.)  In addition, Mark Bolla, Susan Walcutt and Lynka Woodbury were re-elected to new 2-year terms.  Continuing for the remainder of their terms through May 2010 are Robert Harris, Ted Schaeffer, Patty Harris and Jose Luciani.

Amida Umesh Frey and was born on Mary Street in Coconut Grove. After attending Coral Gables Senior High and a long jaunt around the globe, he graduated from Miami-Dade College and Eckerd College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Philosophy with minors in Literature, Biology and East Asian Studies.  After teaching for the Japanese government (in Japan), he began graduate studies at FIU for an MS in Environmental Studies as well as a JD at the FIU College of Law.  He hopes to complete both degrees within a year.  Ami's interest in plants and the environment has been life-long, but culminated while he was attending Miami Dade College and studying with one of his favorite professors, Chris Migliaccio (a DCFNPS member), who inspired him to pursue it as a degree.  Ami may pursue environmental consulting or law and perhaps LEED certification after he graduates.

Vivian Waddell arrived in Miami at the age of two when her family moved from Chicago.  She grew up in Northwest Miami just outside of Hialeah and raised flowers and vegetables as a child (with help from the adults).  She was always interested in plants and gardens but became seriously interested in native plants after moving to her current house in 1976.  Her husband was an avid palm grower. Vivian is very fond of Florida natives and plants from the Bahamas, Caribbean and the Yucatan, but one of her goals is to rid South Florida of Ficus benjamina!

Gita Alexandra Ramsay was raised in Lexington, MA, where she walked through the woods and learned to garden organically from her mother. She earned degrees in Natural Resource Studies and Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1999, studying the conversion from conventional to organic gardening in Costa Rica.  She worked on organic farms in the UK and was an environmental volunteer in the Peace Corps in Guatemala.  She married and began graduate school in FIU in 2003.  Gita came to Miami to study ethnobotany, but she also wanted to be in a botanically rich area where temperate, subtropical, and tropical plants all intermingle.  Her MS thesis established a database of home garden flora and explored why people chose to include specific plants in their gardens.  She graduated with a MS in Biology in 2006, then studied international forestry at the University of Michigan.  She realized her passion really lay in working with environmental issues - specifically the use of plants appropriate for the environment - on a local level, so she returned to Miami and began working with Citizens for A Better South Florida.  She will also work as an adjunct in the Department of Biology, Health, and Wellness at Miami-Dade College. Her goal is to continue working with children and adults, and to share her passion and concern about appropriate environmental management and the beauty of the diverse biological world that surrounds us.

| To top of Page |


June 20, 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. Bring sun protection! New helpers, family and children are encouraged to come.  Everyone in your car gets into the park free after the workday.  For more information contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com).

| To top of Page |


Grass ID Workshop.  Keith Bradley will be teaching South Florida Grass Identification Workshops in September or October, 2009.  The class/classes will cover the differences between the grasses, sedges and rushes, grass terminology, resources for grass identification, and detailed discussions of common, endangered, and invasive exotic south Florida grasses, broken down by subfamilies and tribes. The class will be designed to help the participants recognize patterns in the grass family, allowing for quicker recognition in the field and easier use of diagnostic keys.   This one day class will be indoors and costs $175. Instruction will be with a combination of specimens and PowerPoint presentations.  If there is interest, there may be a 2-day class with more of a field component for $350. If you may be interested in either the 1 or 2-day class, please let Keith know so he can reserve the right amount of classroom space.

Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director, The Institute for Regional Conservation, 305-247-6547, bradley@regionalconservation.org

Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus 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). June 16: Cactaceae (Cactus family). Contact Steve, 305-595-5541, Stevewoodmansee@bellsouth.net;

www.regionalconservation.org/ircs/aboutus/Outreach.asp   Free!

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.  

June20, July 18: Help restore native habitat at TAS.  Workday 8:30am-1pm.  Also every Thursday evening 3pm until dark.

Miami-Dade Park Department's "Parklife" magazine tells about natural, cultural and recreational experiences available through the county's parks. Published every two months, Parklife includes informative articles on a variety of topics, beautiful photographs and a calendar of events.  (Editor's comments: It can be viewed online or downloaded as pdf for easier viewing).

See http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/parklife.asp

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  See www.miamiblue.org or contact Elane Nuehring, 305-666-5727 or miamiblue@bellsouth.net for great field trips.

June 20 and 27, July 11: Annual butterfly counts.

July 25-26: 6th Annual Butterfly Days at Fairchild. Programs, hikes, plant sale, children's activities.  Save the date!

| To top of Page |


By Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director

The Institute for Regional Conservation

The National Gardening Association reports that wildflower gardens are increasing across the country.  This trend has not skipped Florida. After the 1999 introduction of the State Wildflower license plate, gardening with wildflowers in Florida has been on the rise. Many nurseries and organizations have now expanded their selection to a variety of wildflowers so we can choose from more than just trees and shrubs. Some also sell seeds of some of the more attractive wildflowers, or, pre-mixed seed packets, ready to be sown for an almost-instant wildflower meadow.

Maintaining diversity in any landscape is a good thing. Planting a combination of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and other herbs provides a veritable smörgåsbord for birds, small mammals, insects, and other wildlife species. While one species may love the big shortleaf fig you planted, another may require the nice clump of lopsided Indian grass, and another a bed of pineland croton. Like dangling a pork chop in front of Homer Simpson, if you want to draw something in, you have to give it the food that it loves.

But there is always a catch, isn’t there? No exception with wildflower gardening. Let’s back up a little. Why do YOU live in south Florida? A lot of people will answer that it is a unique place. Not only do we have a unique assemblage of cultures from around the world, with associated languages, music, and customs, but our natural environment is also unique. This includes the climate and soils. Our native plants have adapted to south Florida. Wide ranging species, from slash pines to milk peas, are often a little bit different down here. We call this local adaptation, and it often has a genetic basis. While a given plant species may range from Miami-Dade County all the way to Canada, like dense blazing star, the genotype of that species would be expected to be quite different in Long Pine Key than in Quebec.

Because of local adaptations it is important to know the provenance of your plant materials, whether it is a container plant or seed. Research studies have shown that wildflower plantings are more successful if local seed is used. Benefits in using local materials include higher germination rates, survivorship, growth, flowering, and seed set. So, if you want your wildflower garden to be healthier looking, use local stock.

There is an additional problem that is currently harder to quantify, but deserves attention. What is the impact of using non-local stock in your garden on native populations of the same plants nearby?  Say you get a packet of one of the more popular wildflowers – Leavenworth’s tickseed, but the seeds were collected from plants originally found in the Florida Panhandle.  Tickseed plants in the Panhandle can look remarkably different in the Everglades than plants in north Florida, which become much more robust, with larger leaves that become pinnate (rather than the often simple, little skinny leaves down here).  If pollinators travel from your lush bed of foreign tickseed and then pollinate plants in the Everglades, it is likely that the genetic makeup of our local plants is being altered, with the potential of eliminating the genetic basis for local variation.  At least one experimental study in Europe showed a decrease in fitness of plant populations when non-local material was introduced.

Unfortunately, this is not just a theoretical problem. Much of the wildflower material being sold in the state is being distributed far away from where the seed was originally collected, including yellow top and Leavenworth’s tickseed.  A real world example of the effect of this kind of activity can be seen with beach sunflowers – and it may lead to the extinction of an extremely rare plant – the West Coast Dune Sunflower. This plant, before human intervention, occupied a very small range around Tampa Bay.  Much more common in Florida is the East Coast Dune Sunflower, which ranges naturally from Miami-Dade County to St. Johns County.  The two plants (they are both varieties of Helianthus debilis) were geographically isolated. Because the species is so attractive, and did well in cultivation, about 30 years ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture began distributing it under the name Flora Sun" all over the state and widely promoted its use. The original materials were collected at a single location, in Jensen Beach. Flora Sun" was planted all over the state, including dune restoration projects and gardens within the native range of the West Coast Dune Sunflower. A 2004 survey conducted by The Institute for Regional Conservation on the west coast reveled that only a few remnant patches of the West Coast variety still existed.  Instead, presumed hybrids between the East and West coast varieties were commonly found, or just the East Coast variety. The West Coast variety is being pushed close to extinction by indiscriminant use of non-local germplasm.

What should you do? Ask anybody you are buying plants from, whether seed or live plants, where the plants originally came from. Research has not solved an important question – what is local?   A general guideline that has been put forth is 100-200 miles. Regardless, the closer the better.

| To top of Page |


by Martin Roessler

On May 9, 2009, members of the Dade Chapter FNPS and Native Plant Workshop visited the coastal rockland hammock and restoration areas of the 530 acre Dade County managed Matheson Hammock Park.  Sonya Thompson from Dade County Parks and Recreation, Jim Gross and Marty Roessler were co-leaders of the trip. The list of plants that were observed to be in flower and ferns observed is contained in the print newsletter.

| To top of Page |


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 and Haniel Pulido Jr. (dadefnpsweb@gmail.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: TBA Treasurer: Mark Bolla
At Large: Amida Frey, Patty Harris, Jose Luciani, Gita Ramsay, Vivian Waddell, Susan Walcutt
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

2009 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.

Articles, announcements and news items are invited for Tillandsia from Dade and Keys members.  Please submit items for consideration by the 15th of each month.  

Advertising rates from $12/month.

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

| To top of Page |

Past Online Newsletters