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Newsletter - July/August 2010

Next Meeting in Dade County
Upcoming Field Trip
Chapter News
Other News of Interest
Adopt-A-Tree for 2010
Our Best Bird-Attracting Natives
Followup Recommendations For Cotton Seed Bug Containment
Contacts for DCFNPS


July 17 (Sat.): Chapter workday at ENP
July 24 (Sat.):  Field trip to the Deering Estate

Aug. 1 (Sun.): Annual summer evening yard visit and social
Aug. 7 (Sat.): Chapter workday at ENP

There is no chapter meeting at Fairchild in July and August and no field trip in August.

The Keys Branch is on vacation until December.


Sunday, August 1
(in place of the July meeting at Fairchild)

Time: 4:00 - 6:30 pm (guided yard tour 4:30; potluck dinner 5:30; plant raffle follows dinner).

Who's invited: FNPS members and their families and guests.

Where:  Home of Native Plant Society members in Redland.

Because this meeting is for members and their guests only, the location is included only in the print newsletter mailed to members.  Please join so you can enjoy all the activities of the chapter!

Bring: Pot luck dish (main, side/salad, dessert), lawn chairs or blanket to sit on, mosquito repellant, if desired.  Punch, tea, plates, napkins, cups and utensils will be supplied.

Description: 1½ acres with about half pineland and half hammock.  Also some fruit trees and palms -- it's Florida, you know!  I have plants from 25 years old to present -- I'm always planting!  The pines go from mature to seedling and a lot of them are popping up in my yard now.  I try to plant lots of endangered species.  I also have foster plants from Fairchild's "Connect to Protect" pineland project.  No waterfalls or quicksand, just bird baths, houses, feeders!  I also have occupied purple martin houses and nesting woodpeckers, but they will not be home in August.  There are usually lots of butterflies.  AND the house is for sale!!!  If I can't find a plant person, we will be having a giant plant rescue sometime in the future!


DCFNPS and Miami Blue NABA

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

Saturday, July 24, 2010, The Deering Estate at Cutler in South Miami-Dade.

Time, address and directions are in the print newsletter mailed to members.  Please join to enjoy all the activities of the chapter!

  • Bring/wear: A hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, bandanna or hand towel, and plenty of drinking water as the dog days of summer are upon us.  Bring lunch if you wish to picnic at end of hike, or we might find a cool restaurant to enjoy together.
  • Difficulty:  Easy to moderate, walking will be along fire breaks with an occasional jaunt into the woods.
  • Cost:  Free as we will be volunteering to help out the park!
  • Trip Leader:  Steve Woodmansee, Pro Native Consulting (786-488-3101)
  • Info about the park:

Description: This conservation land was acquired by the Miami-Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program and Florida 2000 Land Acquisition Program in 1985, with additional property being acquired in subsequent years.  It consists of over 400 acres of pine rockland, rockland hammock, tidal swamp, and salt marsh habitats in addition to Chicken Key, archaeological sites, and historic buildings.  DCFNPS members will assist the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) in identifying some of the rare plants and butterfly host plants found in pine rockland habitat so that they will know them while conducting butterfly surveys.

This is an opportunity to see the largest tract left of coastal pine rockland in the U.S. (over 100 acres), which is home to foxes, gopher tortoises, over 100 bird species, and lots of insects including butterflies.  Some of the rare plants include Florida prairie clover (Dalea carthagenensis var. floridana), Deltoid spurge (Chamaesyce deltoidea), Small's milkwort (Polygala smallii), and Crenulate lead plant (Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata), as well as tons of other wildflowers.  If time permits, we will cool off in the nearby rockland hammock and continue to look for host plants and butterflies.

More field trip thoughts:

After our June field trip, participants suggested a few things they wish they had brought.  These might or might not apply on all trips or to all people (a walking stick is a must for some and a nuisance to others), but consider these suggestions:

  1. Garbage bag to pick up some litter (if you are so inclined).  Every little bit helps.
  2. Bug spray or long sleeved light-weight shirt
  3. Cream for itches
  4. Binoculars and/or loupe for taking a closer look
  5. Walking stick for off-trail use
  6. Tillandsia with specific directions and phone numbers; it's easy to get slightly lost in unfamiliar areas. 

Also, a question we would like to answer:  Why is Camp Matecumbe (now the Pineland Preserve we visited in June, containing the former and Boystown/Pedro Pan children's home) named "Matecumbe"?  If you know, please contact the editor.


Chapter Workday at Everglades National Park: July 17 and August 7, 9am-noon. Help with our native plant habitat landscaping maintenance around the Coe Visitors Center.  Drinks, gloves, hand tools and bug spray are provided, but you may want to bring your own, and snacks to share.  Bring sun protection!  New helpers and friends are encouraged to come.  We plan to have some small pines to plant, so extra help is needed.  Everyone in your car gets into the park free after the workday.  For more information contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404,

Welcome new members! In Miami-Dade: Norma Craig, Karen Lawrence, Warren Sharpp (all in Miami-Dade)

Check out the new Dade Chapter website now under construction by co-webmaster Haniel Puludo at  Note that new material will be on the "beta" site until the change-over is finalized.


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Bring at least three flowering/fruiting plants of any species.  Contact Steve, 786-488-3101,  See  July 20 topic: Bromeliaceae (bromeliad family).  August 17 topic: Lamiaceae (mint family).

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  See or contact Elane Nuehring, 305-666-5727 or for more info and schedule of butterflying trips.

  • August 1:  Meeting at Castellow Hammock Park, 1 pm. Program: "The Butterflies of South Texas" by Buck and Linda Cooper (an unabashed teaser for the NABA meeting in October!)
    Come early to butterfly.  Castellow Hammock is at 22301 SW 162 Avenue.

CITIZENS's ReVive: The Virginia Restoration Project.  Volunteers from Citizens for a Better South Florida will be working on the restoration of Virginia Key's population of the endangered plant species prickly ash on July 16 and July 20, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Please contact Juan Fernandez, City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department Naturalist, at if you might be able to help.

Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187 Ave.)   Two workshops are offered on July 17.  In between, enjoy an aquatic plant raffle and lunch at the Mango Café.  Please call to register.

  • Water Gardening & Fish Ponds (9am-noon; $25; call 305-247-5727)
  • Rain Barrel/Water Conservation (1pm-3pm; $45; call 305-245-3311)

Secret Woods' Summer Home Landscape Series (inside with A/C!) and native plant sale. Julia Assembly Hall, 2701 W. State Rd. 84, Dania Beach. For info: 954-791-1030 or

Lecture Topics:

  • July 11: "Toys for Real Gardeners" - David McLean
  • July 18: "Holistic Gardening" - Ted Shaffer
  • August 1: "Naturescape For Birds" - Diana Guidry
  • August 8: "Canopy Trimming and Root Management" - Mike Orfanedes
  • August 15: "Composting" - Sandy Granson
  • August 29: "Organic Lawn Care" - Andrew Boshears
  • September 5: "Organic Fertilizers" - Skip Levin
  • Native plant sale: September 11.

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

  • Friday, July 23, 5:30-9pm: Bird Bath II - a fundraiser to help rescue oil-sodden sea birds.  Cocktail hour, silent auction, raffle, plus photographs featuring local nature available for purchase.  Minimum donation of $10.  You can also send a donation earmarked "Bird Bath" TAS (5530 Sunset Dr., Miami 33143) or donate silent auction items (by July 15).


The Adopt-a-Tree Program is back in 2010, helping residents of Miami-Dade County "plant for the future." Miami-Dade single-family or duplex homeowners, may be eligible to receive 2 FREE trees in 2010, in addition to trees adopted in past years.  Bring a valid photo ID with your current address (e.g., Driver's License).  Renters should bring a letter from the property owner giving permission to adopt the trees on his/her behalf, along with a photocopy of the property owner's ID.  Please tell your neighbors to come, too!  For more information and complete list of trees available visit:

Sunday, July 25, 10am-1pm at A.D. Barnes Park, 3401 SW 72 Ave (Bird Road and 72 Ave).  Trees available (subject to change) are the natives dahoon holly (Ilex cassine) and pigeon plum (Coccoloba diversifolia) -- both good trees for wildlife and small yards, as well as several nonnative fruit trees.

Saturday, August 28, 1am-noon at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, 11200 SW 24 Street, Miami.  The trees for distribution are the natives inkwood (Exothea panicula) and orange geiger (Cordia sebestena), plus nonnative fruit trees lychee and jackfruit.

There is also an event on September 25 in Doral.

Here is some information about two of these native trees from The Institute for Regional Conservation's "Natives For Your Neighborhood."  See for more details about all the native trees available.

Inkwood: The IRC describes inkwood as "An attractive medium tree with dense foliage maintained close to the ground for many years. The wood is very hard, heavy, and durable and much used for crafts and construction. The bark and berries are used to make a homemade ink-like substance in the West Indies." It is a canopy or subcanopy tree in hammocks and is tolerant of short droughts.  It has a dense crown of shiny, compound leaves and semi-showy, fragrant white flowers with an orange disk in the middle.  They are dioecious, but some trees have a few flowers of both sexes or bisexual flowers.  Females produce berries which ripen to dark purple and are good bird food.

Orange geiger:  This tree's native range in South Florida includes only the Florida Keys and the extreme southern mainland, mostly in Everglades National Park.  It is widely planted outside its natural range and sometimes naturalizes, so it is not appropriate for restoration or near most natural areas.  That said, it is a drought-toleran, small tree with bright orange flowers that provide nectar to some butterflies.  [Editor's note: The foliage is periodically damaged by the larvae of the geiger tortoise beetle.]


By Roger L. Hammer

Colubrina elliptica
Colubrina elliptica
Photo by Roger Hammer

Through a grant, Audubon of Florida spearheaded a project last fall, which was led by ornithologist John Ogden, to not only identify which native trees attract birds, but exactly which birds they attract, and why. It is called the Bird Oases Project. Observers, including myself, went into the field once a week through the fall 2009 and spring 2010 migrations to tally the number of birds observed, and to record what those birds were doing. Targeted birds were migratory species, which included many species of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. Two sites that were monitored weekly were Matheson Hammock and the adjacent Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables.

At the end of the 2009 fall migration we had a good list of birds and some good data on which native plants were most often used by migratory birds as a source of food. If a bird was simply hopping through the tree canopy in search of insects, then no data was recorded other than the bird sighting. But, if a bird spent time in, say, a particular tree while actively feeding, then that information was recorded. The recorded information included the bird species, the tree species, whether or not the tree was in flower or fruit, and what the bird was observed feeding upon. Interestingly, many birds that we tend to think of as strictly insect-eaters were not only observed eating insects, but also feeding on fruits and even flowers.

Even more interesting was the identity of the tree that had the most feeding activity recorded during the field studies, and that tree was soldierwood (Colubrina elliptica), which has a natural range in Florida that only includes the Upper Florida Keys, most particularly Key Largo and Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park. Because this tree is seldom seen in cultivation, we are now encouraging local native plant nurseries to begin growing soldierwood in order to offer it to the general public, thereby offering migratory birds a favored food source. The small green flowers of soldierwood produce an abundance of nectar, which attracts insects, which, in turn, attract insect-eating migratory birds like warblers, vireos, gnatcatchers, and flycatchers. Soldierwood trees observed during the study were located at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and a tree cultivated in John Ogden's yard, which had more than a dozen different warbler species in it at one time.

Other Florida native plants that made the list of species that attracted the largest numbers of migratory birds were (in alphabetical order by genus/species):

Gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba)
Satinleaf (Chrysophyllum oliviforme)
Strangler fig (Ficus aurea)
Shortleaf fig (Ficus citrifolia)
Florida privet (Forestiera segregata)
Wild tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
Lancewood (Ocotea coriacea)
Live oak (Quercus virginiana)
False mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum)
Paradise tree (Simarouba glauca)
Chiggery grapes (Tournefortia hirsutissima)
Florida trema (Trema micranthum)

Of those species, it was false mastic and satinleaf that had the highest recorded bird activity, with birds observed feeding on insects as well as the fruits and nectar-filled flowers. Both trees are in the Sapodilla Family. In fact, members of the Sapodilla Family Sapotaceae) proved to be big favorites of birds, including the exotic mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota), native to Mexico and Central America but cultivated in South Florida for its delicious fruits. It stands to reason that our native wild dilly (Manilkara jaimiqui subsp. emarginata) would be a good bird-attracting tree to cultivate as well.

This project will hopefully encourage the wider dissemination of these species for South Florida gardeners and bird lovers alike.

[Editor's note: Concerning dioecious trees and shrubs like Florida privet, paradise tree, Florida trema, Roger adds: "Yes, both male and female trees were attracting birds, although the most activity was on female fruiting trees, especially the privet."]


In the May 2010 Tillandsia, the article "New Pest Found in Wild Cotton" requested that wild cotton plants being removed from yards be double-bagged before placing in the trash to prevent possible spread of the cotton seed bug (see past newsletters). This is especially important for Keys residents since the bug has been found in Stock Island and now Key West, and Monroe County trash is trucked to Broward County.

Here is an updated recommendation provided by Julieta Brambila (Entomologist, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine):
If you think your plants might be infested with the cotton seed bug, the Division of Plant Industry of the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services asks Monroe County residents to please call 352-372-3505 ext. 185 or 438 so DPI can come verify and document the infestation and remove the plant for you. Or write to L. Whilby at  
If the plants are not infested, then dispose of the bagged plant in the trash. For now, the county waste management in the Keys (and in other counties) tells homeowners not to bag yard trash delivered to the transfer stations, so please dispose of a bagged (presumed uninfested) plant in the regular trash pickup.


Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:
President: Ted Shaffer,
Vice-President: Amy Leonard
Treasurer / Secretary: Susan Walcutt
At Large: Amida Frey, Patty Harris, Gita Ramsay, Vivian Waddell, Lynka Woodbury, Buck Reilly, Lauren McFarland
FNPS board: Lynka Woodbury
Past-President: Robert Harris
Mailing address:

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

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator, Dade meetings: Vivian Waddell, 305-665-5168

Memberships: Patty Harris, 305-262-3763

DCFNPS Web page:

DCFNPS Facebook:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia editors: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

State Organization

FNPS Chapter representative: Lynka Woodbury,

FNPS Web Page:

FNPS Blog:

FNPS Facebook:

FNPS Twitter:

FNPS Eco Action Alert List:Send email request to

FNPS (state) office: 321-271-6702,