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Newsletter - October 2010

Next Meeting in Dade County
Upcoming Field Trip
Yard Visit
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Ramble, November 12-14
Chapter News
FNPS Announcements
Other News of Interest
Native Plant Name Notes Cynanchum angustifolium
Contacts for DCFNPS


Oct. 16 (Sat.): Field trip (R. Hardy Matheson Preserve)
Oct. 23 (Sat.): Chapter workday at ENP
Oct. 24 (Sun): Yard visit (Coral Gables)
Oct. 26 (Tue.): Monthly meeting in Dade

Nov. 12-14 (Fri.-Sun.): DCFNPS participates at FTBG Ramble - volunteer to help at chapter display and plant sale (please respond by Oct. 15)
Nov. 20 (Sat.): Field trip (Yamato Scrub, Palm Beach Co.)
Nov. 23 (Tue.): Monthly meeting in Dade

Dec. 4: Chapter workday at ENP
Dec. 5: Sixth Annual Holiday Potluck Picnic (Simpson Park)
Dec. 11 or 12: Field trip (TBA)

March 12, 2011: Native Plant Day in North Miami

The Keys Branch is on vacation until December.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 7:30 pm, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, GARDEN HOUSE, 10901 Old Cutler Road.  Free and open to the public. Refreshments begin at 7:15 pm. Merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash/checks only).  The plant raffle follows the program.

“The Endangered Flora of South Florida” - Roger Hammer, retired Miami-Dade County naturalist

Currently more than 400 Florida native plants are listed as endangered species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry. This presentation will focus on some of the endangered native plants found from Martin to Lee counties southward through the Florida Keys, including some species that are critically rare and in imminent danger of extirpation or extinction. This presentation will also include interesting stories about finding these botanical jewels.

Roger Hammer is a retired Miami-Dade County naturalist, author, photographer, and native plant aficionado.  He has discovered two orchid species new to the flora of Florida which are listed as endangered species.  He received the first Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award in 1982 from the Dade Chapter FNPS for “outstanding, consistent, and constant service in the areas of education, research, promotion, and preservation of native plants.”  He also received the Charles Brookfield Medal from Tropical Audubon Society in 1996 for “outstanding service in the protection of our natural resources,” and was the recipient of the Green Palmetto Award in Education from FNPS in 2003.  He is the author of Everglades Wildflowers, Florida Keys Wildflowers, a Falcon Guide to Exploring Everglades National Park, and folding laminated wildflower identification cards for southeastern Florida, southwestern Florida, and central Florida.


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, October 16: R. Hardy Matheson Preserve.  This Miami-Dade Parks preserve is along the banks of Snapper Creek where it opens into Biscayne Bay.  It is comprised of Rockland Hammock, Pine Rockland and coastal wetlands and is an excellent site to see limestone caves and many rare species.  Tillandsia are in abundance.  We will also see a restoration area where Brazilian-pepper was cleared in 2006.  There is also a Cold War-era CIA building of undecided origin (perhaps a radio listening station or a mobile missile launch station).

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

  • Bring: Water, insect and sun protection (and lunch if you want to picnic at Matheson Hammock after the trip).
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
  • Leaders: Jennifer Possley (Field Biologist for the Center for Tropical Plant Conservation at Fairchild) and Dallas Hazelton (Project Supervisor, Miami-Dade Parks NAM).


Yard visits are for FNPS members and their guests.  Complete information on meeting place and time is sent to members.  Please join so you can enjoy all the activities of the chapter!

  • Date/time: Sunday, October 24, 2010
  • Location: A home in Coral Gables
  • Who is invited: FNPS members and their guests.

Did you ever wanted to rip out the St. Augustine grass in front of your house and go native?  These homeowners did just that a year ago.  It is a very impressive mix of shrubs, herbaceous plants, vines and small trees.  Some trees we saw on our May 2004 visit are now ~10 years old. You will get ideas for native plants you might use and how to place them in your yard.  A plant list will be available.

This visit is part of an ongoing opportunity for those who wish to know native plants in a hands-on manner, to see them in various settings (formal and informal), and to learn about the property owners’ successes and failures at growing them. These visits are offered several times a year. If more information is needed, please phone Gwladys Scott at 305-238-8901.


Get the inside perspective – volunteer!  Teach others about native plants at the educational display or help at the plant sale. 

To volunteer, please respond to Gita Ramsay (786-877-7168, by October 15 so that you will have a name tag and free entry into FTBG.  The schedule will be finalized at the October meeting.

Volunteers are needed for:  

  • Saturday and Sunday for both the plant sale and display.
  • Set-up help on Thursday afternoon for the display, 3:30-5pm.
  • Break-down on Sunday afternoon.
  • Volunteers for plant sales on Friday.

While some landscaping knowledge is useful to help at the plant sale, a great deal can be picked up on the job at either the display or sale.  Anyone with a desire to learn would find volunteering to be very educational.  Plant sale volunteers are not responsible for handling money, only for helping monitor the vendor’s plants and guiding potential buyers to appropriate plants. 

Display items needed: Please loan/donate small native plants (in pots), butterfly plants, or caterpillars for the educational display.  Contact Amy Leonard (305-458-0969,


Welcome new member!  Caryl Lucas (in Miami-Dade).

Chapter workday at Everglades National Park, October 23, 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 are welcome and encouraged to come.  Everyone in your car gets into ENP free after the workday.  For more information contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404,

6th Annual Holiday Potluck Picnic, Sunday, December 5, 2010 - save the date!  This year our annual event (for DCFNPS, Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, TREEmendous Miami and Tropical Audubon Society) will be at Simpson Park on South Miami Avenue.  You'll enjoy the lush hammock, recovered from the hurricanes of 2005, and the historic building.  Details next month.

Native Plant Day, March 12, 2011 - Save the date!  DCFNPS will present its largest outreach event of the year at Elaine Gordon Enchanted Forest Park in North Miami.  There will be programs, walks, children’s activities, raffles, book sales and food and drinks.  We hope you will consider helping out.  There are many behind the scenes ways to lend a hand as well as volunteering on the day of the event.  To find out how, contact Amy Leonard at or 305-458-0969.


Call for Scientific Papers and Poster Presentations, FNPS 2011 Conference. 

The FNPS annual conference will be held in Maitland (Orlando area), May 19-22, 2011.  Research papers and posters will be presented on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21.  Researchers are invited to submit abstracts on research related to native plants and plant communities of Florida including preservation, conservation and restoration. Presentations will be 15 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions.  Abstracts of up to 200 words should be submitted as a MS Word file to Paul A. Schmalzer by Feb. 1, 2011, with title, affiliation address, and whether you will be presenting a paper or poster.

Land Management Partners are seeking DCFNPS members to participant in Land Reviews in November.

Do you care about natural areas and have a couple days to devote to ensuring their preservation?  A few DCFNPS members who are conservation minded and enthusiastic are needed to help review several sites.  There are already land managers/experts on the team, and you will add your evaluation of the cultural resources (public use, promoting passive use, etc.).  You do not need to be a plant expert.  If you would like to observe the process before your assignment, you can accompany the DCFNPS reviewer on an earlier date.  These reviews are very structured and are not field trips!  You must be able to volunteer for about 20 hours for each review: 4 hours preparation (reading), 8 hours Site Review, 4 hours Evaluation (the day following the Site Review).  See what the program is all about at:   

Monroe County:

  • Curry Hammock State Park (11/8-9)
  • Florida Keys Wildlife and Env. Areas (11/9-10)
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (11/15-16)
  • Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park (11/16-17)
  • Dagny John Key Largo Hammocks Bot. State Park (11/18-19)

Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties:

  • Everglades & Francis S. Taylor WMA (2/22-24)

If you think you would like to participate or have questions, please contact Anne Cox or Danny Young. Provide your name, address, phone (cell preferred) and the chosen Review Site. 

Anne C. Cox, FNPS Land Man. Partners Chair, 561-744-9531 (voice), 561-339-1549 (cell),
Danny Young, FNPS Land Man. Partners Vice Chair, 386-677-2482 (off), 386-212-1952 (cell),


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Contact Steve,  786-488-3101; see 19:  Emergent/ pond species (freshwater wetland species with leaves above the water).

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meets 7-9pm at the Agricultural Extension Service, 3245 College Ave., Davie.  954-370-3725 or   Oct. 13: “Fall Wildflowers” by Chuck McCartney.

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

  • Oct. 13: Meeting.  Doors open 7:30, program at 8pm. “The Everglades Handbook, Understanding the Ecosystem” - Dr. Thomas E. Lodge talks about the 3rd edition of his book, with a new chapter “Peripheral Ecosystems of the Everglades.”
  • Oct. 16: Workday to restore native habitat, 8:30 am-1 pm.
  • Nov. 6-7: NATIVE PLANT SALE at TAS

Friends of the Gifford Arboretum, Univ. of Miami.  See or call 305-284-1302. 

  • Oct. 27: Meeting at 7 pm, Cox Science Bldg., Room 166.  Dr. Bradley Bennett of Florida International University will talk about tonewoods used in guitar making.

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  See or contact Elane Nuehring, 305-666-5727 or for trips, including to “railroad tracks” with Steve Woodmansee.

  •  Nov. 7:  Meeting, 1pm: Sandy Koi will share adventures and surprises while hunting for FNAI's target butterflies.  Come early to butterfly at Castellow Hammock , 22301 SW 162 Ave.

Miami-Dade Parks Natural Areas workdays.  To volunteer, call 305-257-0933 ext. 227 or e-mail  See  There are many opportunities to help protect and restore our precious natural areas!  Community service hours are offered. 

  • Oct. 23: Bear Cut Preserve at Crandon Park (vine removal)

Help replant Virginia Key - Saturday, November 6, 2010.

TREEmendous Miami seeks volunteers to help re-establish a tropical maritime forest at Virginia Key Beach Park by planting native trees and shrubs in an area once dominated by Australian pines.  This project (designed by DCFNPS member Gary Hunt) will improve the Biscayne Bay environment.  

  • Time:   8am, Registration; 8:30am, Orientation; 9am-noon, Plant
  • Directions to Virginia Key Beach Park: Take Rickenbacker Causeway ($1.50 toll), cross the bridge; turn left onto Virginia Beach Drive (across from UM's Rosenstiel School, past Seaquarium)
    Go through gate ($5.00 fee waived before 10:00 am)
    Look for TREEmendous Miami banners at the sign-in table.
  • Wear:  Closed toe shoes, long pants, long-sleeves, shade hat.
  • Bring:  Sunscreen and a refillable water container.
  • Gear: Shovels, gloves, hard rake and pick axe, if you have them
  • Sign or 305-378-1863

Cynanchum angustifolium

Cynanchum angustifolium

by Chuck McCartney

During September’s pleasant Dade Chapter field trip to Black Point Park and the adjacent portion of Biscayne National Park jutting out into Biscayne Bay, the group encountered an interesting member of the milkweed family.

Once separated as the Asclepiadaceae (named for showy milkweeds in the genus Asclepias), this family now has been lumped by plant taxonomists into the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), which includes such familiar and showy South Florida wildflowers as Wild Allamanda (Pentalinon luteum), Pineland Allamanda (Angadenia berteroi), Devil’s Potato (Echites umbellata) and the badly named but beautiful Mangrove Rubber Vine (Rhabdadenia biflora -- which we also saw at Black Point), as well as the ubiquitous non-native Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus).

While the little member of the old milkweed family that drew our attention doesn’t begin to compare with the Rhabdadenia in terms of aesthetics, it is still interesting in its own right. When found, its identity was a mystery to field trip participants. We knew it was a Cynanchum, but that genus of 150 to 300 species around the world (depending on what authority you consult) is represented in South Florida by four members.

With study, our Black Point plants turned out to be Cynanchum angustifolium, a species of coastal hammocks and salt marshes considered “frequent” in its distribution through the state by Richard P. Wunderlin and Bruce F. Hansen in the second edition of Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida (a book that should be in every native plant enthusiast’s library). Besides ranging from coastal North Carolina south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas, the species also occurs throughout the Bahamas and in Cuba, according to Donovan S. Correll and Helen B. Correll in their monumental Flora of the Bahama Archipelago. Wunderlin and Hansen list the blooming period as spring to fall, but the Corrells note that it flowers “sporadically throughout the year,” at least in the Bahamas.

The plant of Cynanchum angustifolium consists of a twining, vining tangle of thin green, wiry stems that, when broken, exude the milky sap so typical of this group of plants. A few long, narrow leaves are scattered along these stems, and that makes the species name for this plant simple to translate. It comes from two Latin words and means “narrow-leaved.” It would be great if all plant species names were so easy to understand!

On the other hand, translating and understanding the genus name isn’t quite so simple. According to the Corrells, it comes from the Greek words for “dog” (kynos – there is no “c” as we know it in Greek) and for “to strangle” or “to choke” (anchein), so apparently this is the “dog-strangling vine.” The Corrells say it is an ancient Greek name for some plant supposed to be harmful to dogs. It’s not hard to envision a dog running through the underbrush where some stout-stemmed species of this genus grows and getting caught in a stranglehold by the vines.

Cynanchum angustifolium

Botanical illustration provided by Fairchild Tropical Garden, by Priscilla Fawcett, FTBG staff artist.  Originally published in Flora of the Bahama Archipeligo, Donovan S. Correll and Helen B. Correll, 1982, J. Cramer. Germany.

The genus Cynanchum was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Cynanchum acutum, a plant ranging from southern Europe to western Asia, is now considered the type species. Cynanchum angustifolium was first described in 1805 by Dutch botanist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who lived from 1761 to 1836.

Wunderlin and Hansen give Cynanchum angustifolium the strange-sounding “common name” Gulf Coast Swallowwort, although several other references don’t use this name. The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the name Swallowwort apparently was first applied to the Vincetoxicum officinale (= Cynanchum vincetoxicum) and states that it comes from the form of the pods, which suggest a swallow with outspread wings. Maybe this name was created by the same imaginative individuals who saw recognizable earthly forms in the heavenly constellations. Cynanchum vincetoxicum is a Eurasian species now naturalized as an aggressive pest in parts of eastern North America, where it is known as the White Swallowwort. The word “wort” is an often-encountered general Middle English term for any plant or herb.

The little five-petaled, greenish-white flowers of Cynanchum angustifolium are borne in open, rounded clusters called cymes. They’re hardly showy, but in close-up photographs they are rather nicely displayed and have a certain beauty all their own. The flattened, light-brown seeds are produced in a pointed “pod” called a follicle, and each seed has a tuft of silky hairs at the top (technically called a coma) to aid in dispersal by the wind, as is typical of members of this family. 

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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,