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Newsletter - September 2011

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Dade Chapter and FNPS News
Other News and Events
Professor's Corner
Nursery News - Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly
Whitemouth Dayflower
Contacts for DCFNPS


Sept. 17 (Sat.): Field trip (MDC Environmental Center)
Sept. 24-25 (Sat.-Sun.): Butterfly Days at FTBG - volunteers needed for DCFNPS table
Sept. 27 (Tue.): Monthly meeting at Pinecrest Gardens

Oct. 9 (Sun.): Field trip (Shark Valley) - details TBA
Oct. 15 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Oct. 25 (Tue.): Monthly meeting at Pinecrest Gardens

Nov. 11-13: FTBG Ramble - volunteer for DCFNPS
Nov. 22 (Tue.): Monthly meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
Nov. field trip: TBA

Dec. 4 (Sun.): Annual holiday picnic
Dec. 10 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Dec. 11 (Sun.): Field trip (TBA)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 7:30 pm.

Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57 Ave (Red 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.  Please label your raffle donations with the plant name (and yours!) and help wipe out "mystery plants."

"FNPS Participation with Florida State Lands" - Anne Cox, Chair of the FNPS Land Management Partner’s committee

The FNPS Land Management Partner Committee (LMP) provides opportunities for FNPS members to participate in Land Management Reviews for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and other activities related to our state lands.  The presentation will describe the review process and examples of reviews at several sites.  Visiting these state lands gives FNPS members the opportunity to become involved with land management and take ownership of our state lands.

Anne Cox has been a member of FNPS for 29 years and lives in Jupiter.  She received her Ph.D. in Biology from FIU in 1998.  She has worked with Pine Jog Environmental Science Center, private consultants, Palm Beach County ERM, University of Florida, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), as the Rare Plant Coordinator at the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest), and as the owner of Ecolo-G, Inc, an environmental consulting company.  She started the LMP committee for FNPS in 2004.  Her conservation and rare plant studies include the Four-petal pawpaw (Asimina tetramera), wide-leaf Warea (Warea amplexifolia), and Perforate Lichen (Cladonia perforata).


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 questions and carpooling, call Patty Phares (305-255-6404).

September 17, 2011, 9 - 11:30am.  The Environmental Center at Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus.

The Environmental Center (EC) is a hidden oasis, containing remnant sandy pine rockland, historically wet slough type hammock and lakeshore plant species.  It is a favorite spot for butterflies and migratory birds, as well as college students wishing to wind down!  We'll botanize and butterfly in all three habitats, and afterward, those who wish to may go next door and see some of the landscapes at the MDC Landscape Technology Center, many utilizing native plants.  Please join us for lunch at a nearby eatery if you care to.  This is a joint trip with the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

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

  • Leader: Jake Tucker of the MDC Environmental Center.
  • Difficulty: Easy, mostly paved paths, some trails.
  • Bring/wear: Sturdy shoes, bug protection, sun screen, water.


DCFNPS will have a table at Butterfly Days at Fairchild, September 24-25.  We need:

  • Volunteers both days to talk to visitors at the table (you can learn on the spot all you need to know)
  • Loan of caterpillars, chrysalises, etc.
  • Loan of attractive native butterfly plants for the table. 

Contact Patty Phares (, 305-255-6404).

Fairchild Ramble. The Dade Chapter will have an educational display and be at the plant sale to answer shoppers' questions and promote FNPS.  If you can help on November 12 or 13 please contact Gita Ramsay (, 786-877-7168).

Join the Tillandsia team - now, please!  As your (now "acting") editor transitions out of the editor position, the chapter needs your help.  You could assist with layout or spend a couple hours a month gathering or composing content.  If you aren’t sure what you can do, just contact Ted Shaffer ( or Amy Leonard ( to talk about it!

Welcome new member!   Julio Alvarez (Miami-Dade).  Thank you to all who have renewed memberships or rejoined after an absence.  Your support through membership, extra donations and participation is essential and greatly appreciated.

Keys Branch News.  If you would like to see activities resume in the Keys, please lend a hand!  If you could help plan some meetings, field trips or yard visits for November 2011-April 2012, or if you could help at occasional public events in the Keys, please contact Ted Shaffer, the Chapter President, at or another board member (see the contact list on last page).


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Contact Steve at or 786-488-3101; see  Bring at least three plants (especially flowering/fruiting), even if they do not pertain to the topic.  Beginners and old hands are all encouraged to come.  Join on the website to receive a monthly email reminder.

  • September 20: the Rush family (Juncaceae)

Adopt-a-Tree.   Two free trees available per Miami-Dade homeowner per year.  Check with DERM for requirements and the types of available trees (305-372-6784 or see

  • September 24: J.C. Bermudez Park, 3100 NW 87 Ave, Doral.

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meets 7-9pm at the Agricultural Extension Service, 3245 College Ave., Davie.  954-370-3725 or   

  • Sept. 14:  Dr. John Pipoly, Broward Extension Agent - Florida-Friendly Shrubs for Perimeter Plantings

Tropical Audubon Society.  305-667-7337, for more details and activities. 

  • September 17: Conservation Workshop, 9am-3pm. 

Get involved by helping set TAS' Conservation Agenda in the coming year at the Deering Estate.  The public is highly encouraged to attend this free workshop.  A Networking Breakfast at 8:30 is followed by discussion of important local environmental issues.  See more information online.

Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, Sept. 21-25, 2011.  Field trips (see birds and plants, too) all five days.  Free family fair on Sept. 24, 10am-3pm, at Curry Hammock State Park.  More info at or call 305-872-0774.  Some activities have limited space and require reservations.

Miami-Dade Environmentally Endangered Lands Volunteer Workdays.  9am-noon.  Students can earn Community Service Hours.  Space is limited. Pre-register by calling 305-257-0933 ext. 227 or by email ( See for more info.

  • Sept. 10, Oct 1, Oct. 22:  Rockdale Pineland (SW 144 St and 92 Ave) Planting with TREEmendous Miami.
  • Sept. 24: National Public Lands Day (various sites)

September 24-25, 2011
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Co-sponsored by
Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Assoc. & Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

David Wagner, author of Caterpillars of Eastern North America; Dr. Marc Minno speaking about rare species; Rick Cech, author of Butterflies of the East Coast; Roger Hammer with new ideas on butterflies plants; Georgia Tasker - butterfly gardens; Hank Poor - up close butterfly photography; Becky Smith - Butterflies 101; Steve Woodmansee - unlikely butterfly habitats; Cindy David - butterfly gardening methods; Carolyne Coppolo -  herbs for butterflies; Jason Lopez - FTBG, a sanctuary for butterflies and birds; Linda Evans and Mary Collins - one-on-one with shoppers selecting plants; walks; plant vendors and plant holding area; children's activities … and more!

Free after admission to Fairchild. See for details and updates, or contact Fairchild at 305-667-1651.



by Dr. Eric von Wettberg

Dear readers,

I am a new member of the board, as well a new professor at FIU and researcher at Fairchild.  I grew up and learned botany farther north, making South Florida and its flora a new adventure for me.  I joined the DCFNPS board to learn about the plants of south Florida, to help better protect them.  And learning from the members is one of the best ways to do this.  I plan to write regularly on native plants, on topics close to my heart.  This first month I would like to crowd source, to hear from you.

South Florida is where North America meets the Caribbean and Latin America.  This is as true culturally as it is botanically.  We have many plant groups where there are members here from both North America and the Caribbean.  But North American and Caribbean plants here should have different histories that will have different effects on their populations here.

South Florida is new land in geological time.  This land has only been above sea level for approximately 100,000 years.  All plants here are immigrants from elsewhere, just some before others.  They may have changed in the process of getting here, and be distinct.  But because we were once under water here, all plant lineages trace to elsewhere.

For plants coming from North America, they would have had the chance to migrate in a front from farther north.  In general migration could be contiguous so that new populations could continue to receive immigrants from neighboring populations.  Most plants could have arrived at approximately the same time, and with a full community of soil symbionts, pollinators, herbivores, diseases, etc.  But as they get to South Florida, the soil types change, the climate is different, and plants would have to adapt to these.  The ongoing immigration could actually counteracted natural selection if it involved individuals adapted to other soil types.

For plants coming from the Caribbean, the distances and seawater would limit the number of immigrants.  Most new species would arrive in small numbers, meaning that they would have dynamics of small populations, with inbreeding, and the possibility that random events like hurricanes or fires could knock out the entire population in one event.  Furthermore, they might arrive without their pollinators or the soil microbes on which they depend, as well as without many of the herbivores or diseases that kept them in check elsewhere.  But, they would be in many ways better pre-adapted to the climate, to the soils, and in many cases would thrive.

Some of these differences may be well known, although some of the consequences are less well described than they could be.  I suspect many of you know examples, and know them quite well.  I want to hear from you.  Have you noticed these differences?  Tell me your stories, your observations, and your thoughts., on the DCFNPS facebook page, or by snail mail to Dr. Eric von Wettberg, 11200 SW 8th Street, Biological Sciences OE 167, Miami, FL 33199.


by Steve Turner, Richard Lyons Nursery

The Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus) is a Central American whitefly that was introduced into Miami-Dade County in 2009.  It was first discovered on a Gumbo Limbo tree at the USDA office in Miami.  It has spread north to Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and south along the coast to Key West.  While initially discovered on a Gumbo Limbo Tree, it has since been spotted on many other species, including natives such as cocoplum, live oak, mahogany, and wax myrtle.  Exotics it has been seen on include black olive, mangos, avocados, bananas, white bird of paradise, and several species of palm trees, especially, coconut palm.  It is such a generalized feeder that it has since been renamed the rugose spiraling whitefly.

The adults lay eggs in a spiral pattern on the underside of leaves.  The larvae are oval, and the nymphs, the last larval stage, are covered with long white fluff.

The adults and larvae excrete "honeydew" which is a sticky substance that coats leaves as it drips down, and eventually everything on the ground below the infested tree, such as cars, lawn furniture, pool decks, and driveways.  A sooty mold grows on the "honeydew" excrement, diminishing the photosynthetic capability of the tree and damaging objects below.

In general, these whiteflies probably will not kill a healthy large tree.  However, smaller or stressed plants with a heavy infestation could possibly die if left untreated long term.  It is important not to let plants get stressed from lack of water during drought periods during the wintertime, as these are the plants that will be most vulnerable to these whiteflies.

Short term treatments which can be used include horticultural oils and soap solutions sprayed over the entire plant.  A longer lasting treatment would be with a systemic insecticide diluted in water and applied as a drench around the tree.  These usually have the chemical, imidacloprid, as its active ingredient.  As the plant's roots take up the water with the chemical and transport it up into the leaves, the insect feeds on the plant, ingests the chemical and dies.  It may take 2 - 4 weeks to see a decline in the whiteflies, but the chemical persists for 9 -12 months. 

Most of the experts feel that with any introduced insect, there is a

population explosion followed by a decline as natural predators begin feeding on them.  To date, there has not been any massive tree die offs reported due to this whitefly.  However, they have become a real nuisance in residential neighborhoods and parking lots due to the sticky excrement which can damage car paint and furniture, along with staining driveways and pool decks if not constantly hosed off.

Steve Turner is an ornamental horticulturist, working at the Port of Miami and on weekends with Richard Lyons Nursery (, 305-251-6293)

More information (personal communication) on spiraling whiteflies from the Miami-Dade Extension (also see

Oils and soaps have minimal residual activity compared to a systemic product and a systemic product used as a soil drench or injected into the trunk will have less effect on beneficial arthropods than one that is applied as a foliar spray.   

Some large healthy trees could probably be left untreated – live oak doesn’t appear to be unduly affected … you may decide to drench a large gumbo-limbo or coconut palm, which have been particularly hard hit, with a systemic product … your only option for a tree with edible fruit would be an oil spray.   

There haven’t been large numbers of trees dying directly from rugose spiraling whitefly.  However, this is a new pest and it is not known to what extent the stress from repeated exposure to whitefly will render trees more susceptible to other insect pests and disease.       

The spiraling patterns seen on leaves are not unique to this whitefly species.  Locally, for instance, the key whitefly (Aleurodicus disperses) is a minor pest of trees and palms. The giant whitefly (Aleurodicus duggesii) was at first confused with the rugose spiral whitefly. Spirals are a useful clue but to be 100% sure, the whitefly itself needs to be identified.

- John Mclaughlin, Urban Horticulture Program Assistant

Any insecticide including soaps and oils can impact natural enemies. Systemics used as a spray would be detrimental and therefore is not the preferred method of application.  However, a systemic as a soil drench has less negative impact on natural enemies.  The beneficial insects won't attack dead insects.  If the insect pest is still alive, then it wasn't impacted by the insecticide and a natural enemy attacking it is not likely to be affected either.

- Adrian Hunsberger, Urban Horticulture Agent


Whitemouth dayflowerWhitemouth dayflower (Commelina erecta) is a creeping herbaceous wildflower found in pinelands and open woodlands.  As the common and scientific names suggest, the flower has two blue petals and one small, white petal, it tends to grow erectly, and the flower lasts but a day.  My own garden is populated from one small start obtained in a DCFNPS raffle many years ago, but I don't count it as a pest.

   Little bright blue faces greet me in the morning but disappear by noon.  On the north side of my house they grow toward the sunny side but survive the winter in shade.  They may pop up in pots and make a bouquet with other flowers.  They really want to root wherever the stem touches the ground, which probably makes it way too aggravating to grow in nurseries.

But if you come to our September meeting, I'll share rooted pieces with you (while they last).  Save the nurseries a headache!

- Patty Phares / Photo by Shirley Denton

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Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:

President: Ted Shaffer,, 305-944-1290
Vice-President: Buck Reilly,, 786-291-4824
Secretary: Amy Leonard,, 305-458-0969
Treasurer: Susan Walcutt,
At Large: Amida Frey,  Lauren McFarland, Gita Ramsay, Eric von Wettberg, Vivian Waddell, Lynka Woodbury
FNPS board: Lynka Woodbury,

Mailing address:

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

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator: Gita Ramsay,, 786-877-7168

Membership: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404

DCFNPS Web page:

DCFNPS Facebook:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia editors: Rachel King,, 786-897-0916

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,