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Newsletter - October 2011

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Yard Visit
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Ramble, November 11-13
Dade Chapter and FNPS News
Other News and Events
DCFNPS Treasurer's Report
Tragia Saxicola, Little Gem With an Attitude
Paid Advertising
Lichens Abound In The Fakahatchee Strand
About the delivery of your FNPS and chapter publications
Contacts for DCFNPS


Oct. 9 (Sun.): Field trip (Shark Valley)
Oct. 15 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Oct. 25 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
Oct. 29 (Sat): Yard Visit

Nov. 11-13: FTBG Ramble - volunteer for DCFNPS
Nov. 22 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
Nov. field trip (Rabenau Camp, eastern Big Cypress)

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


Tuesday, October 25, 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!) to help wipe out “mystery plants.”

“Florida’s Native Bromeliads” - Dr. Brad Bennett, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida International University

The bromeliad family (Bromeliaceae) includes more than 2,600 species.  All are native to the New World with the exception of a single species found in Africa.  In the U.S., bromeliads are best represented in Florida, which has 3 native genera with 16 species and two natural hybrids.  Several of these occur throughout the state (e.g., Tillandsia recurvata), but five species are restricted to southern Florida (e.g., Catopsis nutans).  Ten species are endangered or threatened due to habitat loss, over collection, and herbivory by the introduced Mexican bromeliad weevil.  A biological control agent – the fly Lixadmontia franki, parasitizes the Mexican weevil and may stem the loss of Florida’s bromeliads to this voracious herbivore.  If biological control fails, most of Florida’s bromeliad species may be extirpated.

Dr. Bennett is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU.  He was the 2004-2005 president of the Society for Economic Botany and currently is an associate editor of the journal Economic Botany.  Dr. Bennett and his graduate students work in the U.S. and many countries in South and Central America, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.  Dr. Bennett’s book Ethnobotany of the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador won the 2006 Mary W. Klinger Book Award from the Society for Economic Botany.  His research has been widely published.

Nov. 22: “Florida’s Most Exquisite Wildflowers” - Roger Hammer


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).

Sunday, October 9: Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 9am-noon. 

    Fall flowers and grasses should be outstanding in the sawgrass prairie, along with birds, butterflies and aquatic animals. We will botanize first along the Bobcat Boardwalk (near the start of the tram road loop, going counterclockwise), and then the Otter Cave Trail and some of the tram road. Those interested may wade out to inspect plants and tree island hammocks up close.

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

  • Entrance fee: Bring your park pass or $10 per car (good for a week anywhere in ENP).  Try to carpool!
  • Bring/wear: Sun protection, water, snack/lunch if desired.  If you would like to wade, a walking stick is advised.
  • Difficulty: Easy on the trails, moderate if you wade into the water; hot and open (little shade).
  • Tram ride: Those interested can also take the tram around the loop, stopping at the observation tower (9:30, 11, 1 or 3); $18.25, $17.25 senior, $11.50 kids).


Date & Time:  Saturday, October 29, 2011, 2-4 pm
Location: A Member’s Home, West Miami
Who is invited: FNPS members and their guests

   This will be a “four years later” return visit to a well thought out garden of exotics and natives.  Return visits are a great opportunity to learn what does and doesn’t work, and thereby avoid costly and time consuming mistakes in your own yard.  In 2007 I wrote, “The property is a small city lot of less than ¼ acre, and within four short years Patty Harris has, and is, transforming a 1949 vintage homestead into an amazingly creative landscape.  What a surprise is in store for you when you round the corner of the house and enter the backyard. My reaction - 'Oh wow!'  A lot of hard work and planning has gone into the creation of a garden home – literally.”

   There are multiple “rooms” and arching doorways, a multitude of vines, ground covers, potted and hanging plants, an herb garden and nursery. This garden has a wonderful feeling of surprise and an illusion of space.  There are now 136 species and 70 natives.  Patty's yard was featured in the Home and Garden section of the Miami Herald on September 18.( 

   This visit is part of an ongoing opportunity for those who wish to know the natives in a hands-on manner and to see them in various settings, formal and informal, and to learn the property owner’s successes and failures at growing them. These visits are being offered approximately once every four months.


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 the plant sale on Friday.

While some plant and 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, guiding potential buyers to appropriate plants and promoting FNPS. 

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,



Chapter workday at Everglades National Park, October 15, 9 am-noon.  Help with our native plant habitat 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,  Sadly, the planned burn this summer did not happen due to uncooperative weather.  We will put all the plant signs back!

The transitional Tillandsia team needs you.  Beginning with the January issue, the new Tillandsia staff will take over (with minor assistance from the retiring editor).  We're thrilled that the team is taking shape, with a new editor and assistants (more on that next month).  However, some might not be available long-term, or not every month. Additional volunteers are needed to spend a couple hours some months to gather, compose or review content. You'll have guidance.  It's easy to get started - just contact Ted Shaffer or Patty Phares.  (See contact list on the back.)

Welcome new members.  Dr. Eric von Wettberg (life member) and Sharyn Ladner, both from 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.

7th Annual Holiday Potluck Picnic, Sunday, December 4, 2011 - save the date!  This year our annual picnic will be at the Coast Guard station at 16000 SW 117 Avenue, within the Richmond Pineland complex.  It has nice picnic facilities and recreational amenities for kids and adults as well as great opportunities for an easy nature walk through the pine rockland.  Plan to join DCFNPS, Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, TREEmendous Miami and Tropical Audubon Society for lots of good food and good friends.  Details next month.

Keys Branch News.  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 or another board member (see the contact list on back page).

Mary Ann Bolla Fund supports the FIU Preserve

   In 2008 a fund was established with DCFNPS in memory of Mary Ann Bolla, who passed away in January, 2008.  In July the FIU Foundation accepted the $710 in this fund to help student intern Ryan Vogel's work with maintaining and operating the FIU Preserve native habitat.  We look forward to an ongoing relationship with FIU and their Office of Sustainability.

   This donation reminds us of Mary Ann's dedication to our chapter and native plants. She served on the chapter board, was a former naturalist in Dade County and Everglades National Park, steadfast participant in the Native Plant Workshop, and was in many other ways involved with native plants.  Since the 1970s she hosted her wonderful holiday party for the whole native plant community.  She received her PhD in horticulture, specializing in the use of natives as root stock for cultivation fruit trees.  The fund was established to support activities of students involved with native plant botany, as she was. 

   Remaining funds will be available for another grant supporting student native plant research.  Please contact me for more information. - Ted Shaffer (, 305-944-1290)

DCFNPS Wish List. 

  • Laptop computer for accounting and meeting presentations (to replace the dinosaur we now have). Contributions to DCFNPS are tax deductible.  Please contact Susan Walcutt, Treasurer (
  • Photos needed for ENP wayside exhibit.  Everglades National Park is designing a wayside sign for the Dade Chapter's landscape/restoration project at the Coe Visitor Center.  It will discuss the habitats and native plants and promote native plant landscaping.  We are seeking high-resolution, close-up photos of plants native to ENP, with birds or butterflies.  Photos showing a significant portion of a plant as well as a clear image of the wildlife are most desirable, but close-ups of birds or butterflies with a small part of a native plant are also of interest.  Please contact Patty Phares (, 305-255-6404) as soon as you can if you may have photos to offer (please don't email the photos yet).  We'd really love to have one of our own be the featured photographer with our own chapter project.

Are you receiving your Sabal Minor and Palmetto?
The October-November issue of the bimonthly state FNPS newsletter (Sabal Minor) was mailed or emailed from FNPS around September 15.  The Summer/Fall issue of the quarterly magazine (Palmetto) should have arrived recently by USPS (look for the big cypress knee on the front).  If you are not receiving these publications, please let FNPS know.  If you are supposed to receive the Sabal Minor by email, check your spam folder or see if you need to allow email from  The Sabal Minor can always be found at > Publications.  (Contact information for FNPS is in the box on the back page.)

FNPS 2012 Endowment Grant Research Awards and Conservation Grant Awards
   The FNPS Endowment Research Grant program funds research on native plants with small grants ($1500 or less) intended to support research that forwards the mission of the FNPS, which is “to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.”

   FNPS Conservation Grants support applied native plant conservation projects with small grants ($1500 or less), e.g., on-the-ground native plant community restoration, land acquisition, and habitat enhancement.  To qualify for a Conservation Grant, the proposed project must be sponsored by an FNPS Chapter.

   Application guidelines and details are on the FNPS Web site (, click on “Awards and Grants”.  Send questions to  The application deadline is March 2, 2012.

The FNPS trip to Nicaragua has only a couple openings remaining for the 12-day session starting January 14, 2012.  This is the perfect trip for the nature lover and plant enthusiast! Enjoy hiking, plant exploration, city walks. $3300 (includes airfare from Miami).  Contact Aventuras Naturales at 954-603-2907 or or see the itinerary at


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.  You don't need to join the website to read the posts and news, but getting the reminder email is handy.

  • October 18: Deciduous plants

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

  • Oct. 12:  Urban Forestry - Gene Dempsey, Parks Supervisor, City Forester

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

  • October 9: Third Annual Bird Day, an exciting all-day event at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Enjoy presentations, birding adventures for all ages, children's activities and vendor's booths.  Start with a bird walk at 7 am. Gates open to the public at 9:30.  Bird-attracting plants will be available for sale.  The event is co-sponsored by Tropical Audubon Society.  Admission is free for TAS and Fairchild members.  Programs include “Attracting Hummingbirds to Your South Florida Garden” by Roger Hammer, “Bird Citizen Science at Fairchild” by Dr. Carl Lewis and Amy Padolf, “ Sibley's Birding Basics” by David Sibley, “Birding 101” by Joe Barros, “Birds of the Everglades” by Rafael Galvez, “Miami's Unique Assemblage of Backyard Birds” by Brian Rapoza.  For more information visit

Miami-Dade Environmentally Endangered Lands Volunteer Workdays.  9am-noon.  Students can earn Community Service Hours but it's worthwhile and informative for adults, too!  Space is limited. Pre-register by calling 305-257-0933 ext. 227 or by email (  See for more info.

  • Oct. 22:  Rockdale Pineland (SW 144 St and 92 Ave) Planting with TREEmendous Miami.
  • Oct. 28 (Fri.):  Camp Matecumbe Pineland (13841 SW 120 St) - exotics removal
  • Nov. 5: Zoo Miami Pinelands

“An Afternoon in the Garden”
to benefit Citizens for a Better South Florida.

Saturday, October 8th, noon to 5pm
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
$50 CITIZENS Members, $60 Non-Members, $125 VIP

See  Besides full access to Fairchild, there is a cooking presentation, savory Latin meal, open bar, live music, silent auction. VIP event tickets include even more. 

CITIZENS is dedicated to providing environmental education, particularly to the underserved community, that inspires active stewardship and preservation of the South Florida environment.  (CITIZENS is a member of FNPS.

Free mulch from the City of Miami.  Available for anyone interested at the Virginia Key Mulch Facility, 3851 Rickenbacker Causeway, Monday-Friday 8am-2pm.  Pickup assistance is available.  Call 305-960-2803 for more information.  Mulch in your yard conserves water, provides nutrients for plants as it decomposes, reduces waste in landfills and controls weeds.

Pinecrest Gardens.  You know that the Dade chapter meets there, but check out everything else going on at  There are many plant-related classes and activities (and more).

Butterfly Gardening in South Florida.  Don't miss Georgia Tasker's beautiful new book.  It's an excellent presentation of photos and information on butterflies, larval food and nectar plants (lots of native plants) and how to get them together in your garden.  Georgia is a writer for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and former garden writer for the Miami Herald.  She is a member of FNPS and recipient of a Green Palmetto Award from FNPS in 1986 for her book on South Florida native plants, Wild Things, published by FNPS in 1984.  The new butterfly book can be purchased at Fairchild's gift shop or online store.


   Thank you to all our members who supported the Dade Chapter with their dues, raffle and auction plants, merchandise purchases and volunteer hours.  We had a tight budget last year which did not include any funds for merchandise purchases or any change in dues.  We were able to stick to it, ending our June 30, 2011 year with a slight loss.

   Now, more than ever, we need your support.  When it is time to renew your membership, think of moving up one level.  We always need native plants for our monthly raffles.  If you have a rare or special native, consider offering it as an auction item.  Now is the time to start growing plants for our annual Native Plant Day in March 2012.  You will be seeing a “Wish List” in our newsletter with equipment, supplies and merchandise needs.

   I am looking forward to a prosperous new year for the Dade Chapter.

Respectfully submitted

Susan Walcutt, Treasurer

Profit and Loss, Year End June 30, 2011

Ordinary Income Expense

    DONATIONS 126.85
    MEMBERSHIP DUES 2,933.90
  Total Income 8,182.00
    EDUCATION 6,213.98
  Total Expense 8,402.41
    Other Income 47.24
    Other Expense 146.38
  Net Other Income -99.14
Net Income -319.55


A Tale of Unexpected Discovery
by Leon Howell

South Florida is blessed with a colorful and varied botanical landscape. Given our almost tropical climate, many of our plants, large and small, are West Indian and Caribbean species seen nowhere else in the United States. Our flora can also boast of a good collection of endemic species because of south Florida’s unique geography and resulting one of a kind ecosystem with its wide variety of component plant communities. One of our most interesting endemics, at least to me, is an unusual and low growing perennial that most often goes unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, unless touched. With physical contact, skin to plant, this little gem’s presence becomes known in an unmistakable and dramatic fashion. My own discovery of this plant was unplanned and unintentional but remains clearly in my memory nearly 30 years later.

As the last assignment in a Coast Guard career I returned to south Florida (lived here as a child) in 1985 and bought a home in the Redland on an acre of struggling pine rockland. Being a lifelong science and nature nut and now living on a piece of south Florida’s most botanically diverse plant community, I was very excited about the years of botanical discovery my yard promised. 

Tragia saxicola, photo by Roger Hammer
photo by Roger Hammer

Soon after moving in I began removing Brazilian-pepper in an effort to improve the health of this small pine rockland fragment. Following a late summer morning of action with a bow saw, machete, some herbicide and many mosquitoes, I walked through an area of tall grasses and young, pioneering Winged Sumac and Roughleaf Velvetseed. I was wearing shorts, of course - this is Florida after all. Almost at once I noticed a slight burning/itching on my left leg.

My first thought: A psychosomatic reaction to the presence of biting and stinging insects. As a park ranger and former fishing guide I’ve seen this phenomenon many times - a group of folks all beginning to itch simultaneously at just the sight of a mosquito. Almost any flying insect can stimulate this response. In short order, though, I knew this was neither mind quirk, hallucination, nor daydream. The burning and itching rapidly grew in area and intensity, and by the time I reached the house (no more than a minute) my left leg from just above the knee down to the ankle was screaming. An insect seemed an unlikely suspect given the nature of the sensation and its rapid onset over such a large area. I quickly began to think that a plant, one of our south Florida lovelies, was the culprit.

With pain that wasn’t a total show stopper but a strong attention getter nonetheless, I headed back to inspect the grassy area with a closer focus. Sure enough, tangled in the grasses was an interesting plant with striking lime green leaves and a jewel like glistening appearance, almost as if it were covered with dew refracting the sun’s early morning light. But the sun was high and the plants were dry. Moving closer to gain a more detailed view - I wasn’t going to grab the plant to bring it to me - I noted that the glistening effect was created by short, silvery hairs covering both stems and leaves. Hmmm… a possible offender. Back to the house and after a few minutes with my books and manuals I had an identity for this pugnacious little actor: Tragia saxicola, a member of the Euphorbia Family and also known as Florida Keys or Pineland Noseburn, nose burn being the operative term in this herb’s common title.

Tragia saxicola, a south Florida endemic occurring in the pine rockland of only Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, presents as a low growing plant with bright light green leaves less than one inch long, ovate and coarsely toothed. It can appear almost vine like when held erect by adjacent vegetation, like the individual(s) that brushed my leg. The entire plant is covered with stinging hairs, a robust defense mechanism.  I suspect neither marsh rabbits nor demur doe deer would munch much of this stuff.     Flowers are insignificant. As an uncommon plant and with the reduction in area covered by pine rocklands (90% or more) over the last century, Tragia saxicola has been included in Florida’s list of threatened species. Because of its limited occurrence in only two south Florida counties, it is an extremely rare plant on the planet wide botanical canvas. Roger Hammer’s lovely field guide, Florida Keys Wildflowers, tells us saxicola means “growing among rocks.” The origin of the common name is obvious. Some literature reports that reactions may include a discolored rash characterized by intense itching persisting long after initial contact. My reactions to the touch of Tragia saxicola through years of working in and exploring my yard have all subsided almost completely within 30 to 45 minutes - no rash, just memories.

For this plant hugger the unintentional discovery and subsequent identification of this little gem was a fun and not easily forgotten botanical adventure, discomfort notwithstanding. I’m thrilled to have this unusual south Florida plant as a natural component of my yard’s botany. With my love of south Florida’s botanical landscape and its individual components, I am most excited by observing the most obscure and rare - Tragia saxicola is one of those. Now, I know plants can’t have attitudes or be pugnacious - I doubt doe deer can be demur for that matter - but if a plant could Tragia saxicola would. Look for Pineland Noseburn in our rocky pinelands, the rockier and dryer the better, but don’t try to smell its roses.

Leon Howell has been a seasonal interpretive ranger at Everglades National Park since 2005.  Previously, he was in the Coast Guard and a boat captain, conducting  fishing and eco-tourism trips in the Everglades. He is a member of FNPS.

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“An astonishing 432 species of lichen have been documented within one square kilometer at the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park in southwestern Florida. The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Robert Lücking of the Field Museum in Chicago. Their census of lichen species from the park produced 18 species new to science, and almost 100 species that were previously not known to be in North America.”

- From EarthSky (April 11, 2011)

See the website above for some fascinating photos.  Even if you will never be able to identify lichens yourself, you will definitely appreciate looking at them up close.  Read the scientific paper from the Florida Museum of Natural History at

FNPS members Rick and Jean Seavey participated in this lichen survey.  They are research collaborators with Everglades National Park and elsewhere.  A lichen (Heiomasia seaveyorum Nelson & Lücking) was named in their honor in 2010.  The Seaveys received the Dade Chapter FNPS Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award in 1989 for their non-native plant removal projects in Royal Palm Hammock.  Learn more about their lichen studies in ENP at  Also see the May 2008 Tillandsia: article “Lichens As Habitat Quality Gauge For Ecosystems (And Your Back Yard!)” by Rick Seavey,


To change your Tillandsia and Sabal Minor delivery preference (postal mail or email) or email address(es), please contact FNPS (321-271-6702 or

  • If you elect postal mail delivery but also have an email address on record, you will receive Tillandsia by both electronic and postal mail.  You can click to unsubscribe from the email if you prefer to receive only the paper copy. 
  • Email delivery links you to downloadable and printable newsletters.  If it is possible for you, taking just a minute to print them yourself helps the finances of FNPS and the Chapter (a lot!).  And some of you say you're more likely to read it if you print it.
  • The Tillandsia pdf file is available online (to Chapter members only) until the next month's newsletter is posted.  The public html version is also available (without some details of member-only activities).
  • FNPS is collecting mailing preferences for the Palmetto magazine in anticipation of offering it online.  Please contact FNPS to choose email or postal mail delivery.


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,