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Newsletter - July/August 2012

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
Dade Chapter and FNPS News
Other News and Events
Native Plants and Moths…There's more than birds, bees and butterflies
Paid Advertising
Contacts for DCFNPS


July 14 (Sat.): Evening Yard Visit and Social Meeting in Homestead (no meeting at Pinecrest Garden).
July 21 (Sat): Chapter Workday, Everglades National Park

August 11 (Sat): Chapter Workday, Everglades National Park
August 18: Field trip - Pine Ridge Sanctuary - a private pineland in the Redland, organized by Miami Blue NABA (please RSVP)
(No newsletter or meeting in August)

Sept. 25 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens.


(No July or August meeting at Pinecrest Garden)

Special celebration: Dade Chapter FNPS 30th Anniversary, honoring Joyce and Don Gann, founders.

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

  • Who’s invited: FNPS members and their families and guests.
  • Bring: Pot luck dish (main, side/salad, dessert), raffle plants, and lawn chairs.  Drinks, plates, utensils, etc. will be supplied.
  • Mosquito forecast: Abundant or non-existent, depending on the weather.  Be prepared with repellant and clothing.
  • Questions?  Contact Lauren McFarland (305-245-8483 home, 305-510-2110 cell)

When Dave and Louise purchased their property in 1993, it had been farmed in row crops and was five acres of bare ground.  They immediately planted a four-acre lychee grove, and slowly began to landscape one acre which would surround their house when it was built.  Their focus in landscape design gradually became one of planting an informal arboretum that would include a wide variety of native trees and shrubs and eventually become a diverse natural woodland attractive to wildlife.  They included species that are native not just to the property itself (which was historically in the headwaters of Taylor Slough), but to Florida’s climatic zone 10 in general (and a few from zones 9 and 11).

After the house was built in 1998, a pond was dug, lined, and stocked with native plants and fish—frogs, dragonflies, and a turtle soon appeared on their own.  In 2007, they built a boardwalk trail elevated ten feet above the ground that runs 75 feet through one of the yard’s wooded areas before ending in an observation deck looking over the pond.  The yard is still very much a work in progress, and there are young plantings as well as grown hammocks.  The largest reported Fiddlewood in the United States is here, and several other species have been nominated to the National Register of Big Trees.  Today there are more than 150 species of native plants including 100 trees and shrubs, ten orchids and bromeliads, and a dozen aquatic plants, and more than 100 species of birds, 30 species of butterflies…and eight species of snakes have been seen.

Dave recently retired from his ranger career with the National Park Service (25 years of it in South Florida).   Louise gave up her career with the park service to raise their family, manage their lychee grove, work on the board of an association of tropical fruit growers, and take occasional temporary research jobs at Everglades National Park.

September 25 meeting: Rob Campbell - "Tales of Old Florida: People, Plants and Animals"


Saturday, August 18, 2012, 9:30 am -12:30 pm:  Pine Ridge Sanctuary.  Be sure to read all the details beforehand.

This trip is organized by the NABA Miami Blue Chapter as another of our joint FNPS/NABA trips for FNPS and NABA members and their guests.  Please see the details at including:

  • Address and directions
  • No restrooms available
  • RSVP by email to Miami Blue
  • Weather-related changes will be announced in the Miami Blue calendar.

If you don't have internet access, you may call Patty Phares, 305-255-6404.  The walking will be easy but out in the sun, so bring sun protection and water.  Close-focus binoculars will be handy for butterflying. 

Everyone loves to see Pine Ridge Sanctuary, an award-winning, privately-owned pine rockland restoration in the Redland. It is also the home of Terry and Barbara Glancy and Pine Ridge Orchids. The Glancys acquired the property in 1976 and restored the degraded pineland.  Pine Ridge Sanctuary has been awarded Miami-Dade's Natural Forest Community classification, is designated an Environmentally Endangered Land (EEL) site, is a registered property with the Nature Conservancy, and received the Florida Native Plant Society's Overall State Landscape Enhancement Award. Terry and Barbara Glancy have been named Forest Stewardship Landowners of 1997 and received the 2012 Florida Land Stewards of the Year award. The pineland had a prescribed burn late last year, so it is in prime condition for seeing wildflowers and butterflies.


Chapter workdays, Everglades National Park: July 21 and August 11, 9am -noon.  Help the chapter enhance the entrance to a national park!  We'll do weeding and pruning, reinstall plant signs, possibly some planting.  As usual, a jug of cold water will be provided, bring snacks to share if you care to.  Gloves, hand tools and bug spray are available but you may prefer to use your own.  Mosquitoes might be out, so bring a head net if you have one (we have a few in the supplies). New helpers are welcome and encouraged to come.  Everyone in your car gets into ENP free after the workday. Contact Patty 305-255-6404, if you have questions (305-878-5705 cell, for the morning of the workday only).

Welcome New Member. Catherine Raymond.  Thanks to all who have renewed or rejoined recently! 

Check out the updated FNPS website! On June 1, 201 2, FNPS released its new website. Let us invite you to explore and contribute.  Many things are new, but the URL is still

  • A focus on telling the world who we are, what our mission is, and how we accomplish it
  • Plenty of modern touches such as slide shows -- you'll see one on our home page
  • Useful tools and information -- check out the "resources" tab to find lots of information on native plants, native plant communities, and where to go to learn about them.  I am particularly pleased with the plant pages which provide colorful photographs and tons of information about natives that are used in landscaping projects...."plants for your area" along with a tool for matching up your site conditions and landscaping goals with the plants.
  • Connections to social media (you'll find the latest blog post on our home page)
  • Tools for society and chapter leadership (login required, but find in menus near the bottom).
  • Information on how to participate -- check out the "participate' tab

We also have vastly upgraded support for chapters that don't have their own web sites.  We've made "mini websites" for them. 

We hope you take the time to explore, to enjoy the site, and to contribute to its future growth.  If you'd like to make any comments or to volunteer, send an email to

- Shirley Denton, Website Committee Chair

[Read one blogger's review at ]

Introducing one of our new Board Members, Kurt Birchenough, (we’ll introduce our other new board member, Surey Rios in the next Tillandsia):

Kurt Birchenough grew up on a dairy farm in the small town of Turin in northern New York and spent his youth playing in pastures, exploring the woods on the farm, and fishing in the many lakes in the area. This exposure to the outdoors fostered a love of exploration and led to his completion of a BA in Biology, Specialized in Ecology and Conservation Biology at Boston University. Two semesters studying abroad in Ecuador, two years living in Hawaii, and three years in the Peace Corps in Mexico has further pushed his passion for travel and exploration. Observing first-hand the stark contrast between the pristine rainforests of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Yasuni Park in the Amazon and the highly impacted forests of Hawaii developed in him a desire to protect native ecosystems and native plants. Kurt arrived to Miami to begin his work towards his MS in Environmental Studies at FIU in conjunction with the Peace Corps and their Master’s International Program in 2006. While in Miami, Kurt has had the opportunity to volunteer in many native plant outplantings, volunteer in the rainforest and seed bank lab of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, and lead many field trips to the native ecosystems of south Florida as a teaching assistant for the Ecology of South Florida lab class at FIU.

Aside from his passion for native ecosystems, Kurt is an avid lover of bicycling-and-not-owning-a-car, the Boston Red Sox, hiking, craft beers, and guerilla gardening. Usually not all at the same time.


Dade Native Plant Workshop, Tue July 17 and Aug 21 at 7 pm: MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center. July's topic is the Poison ivy family (Anacardiaceae). Please bring in at least 3 plants, which needn't necessarily cover the topic. See For more info, contact Steve at or 786-488-3101.

North American Butterfly Association - Miami Blue Chapter.  NABA extends a special invitation to FNPS members to come to NABA meetings.  Butterflies (and moths) and native plants need each other -- so do their people.  See complete details at

  • July 29, 2 pm.  "Meet Our Moths".  The Miami Blue Chapter and Broward Chapter celebrate Moth Week.  Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center, 3501 Southwest 130th Avenue, Davie, FL 33330 (954-357-8797).  The program by Dr. Michelle DaCosta of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Relations features tiger moths, some colorful day-flying moths and how they go about their lives, and "moth plants" for your garden. Earlier in Moth Week, Dr. DaCosta will set up sheets and lights at Long Key to show the moth fauna of the nature center.
  • August 12: 1-3 pm:  Quarterly meeting at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Visitor Center's second floor ballroom.  Martin Feather, Exhibits Manager, and Amy Padolf, Director of Education, present the behind-the-scenes of the butterfly conservatory -- how butterfly houses function, their niche in conservation and education, their relationship with the international communities that provide the species.  Sundays at FTBG are FREE in August!  As usual, come early to enjoy the butterfly garden and great refreshments.

NATIVE PLANTS AND MOTHS…There's more than birds, bees and butterflies

We celebrate the first-ever National Moth Week, July 23-29, 2012, ( with a collection of short articles on native plants and moths written by several Dade Chapter FNPS members.  Learn more about the native plants featured below at > Natives for Your Neighborhood.

To learn more about moths, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)-Miami Blue Chapter and Broward Chapter invite everyone to a special Moth Week event:

 July 29, 2 p.m.. "Meet Our Moths".  Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center, 3501 Southwest 130th Avenue, Davie, FL 33330; 954-357-8797.  Come to this program celebrating our day-flying and night-flying moths as well as "moth plants" for your garden.  See complete details at

Do you have a moth garden you didn’t know about?
by Elane Nuehring

Information on butterfly gardening abounds.  We have extensive lists of butterfly caterpillar food plants, nectar plants, and even the larger shrubs and trees preferred for sheltering.  Meanwhile, moths go about their business, largely without our awareness.  Like butterfly devotees, moth fanciers usually start with a few of the big, showy ones – leaving the “little brown jobs” for later. That’s my excuse to start with the Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata), the largest lepidopteran, perhaps the largest insect, north of Mexico, with a wing-span up to 7 inches (for comparison, the Giant Swallowtail’s wing-span is 5 inches).

Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata)

Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata) moth. Photo by Happycoder89 on:

Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata)

Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata) larvae. Photo from

Sennae and Pithecellobia are host and nectar plants for several familiar Sulphur and Blue butterflies…but also, the Black Witch in our area lays eggs on Cat’s Claw (Pithecellobium unguis-cati) and various non-native Sennae, such as Senna alata (Candlebush).

Cat’s Claw (Pithecellobium unguis-cati)

Cat’s Claw (Pithecellobium unguis-cati).

Photo by Shirley Denton.

Like the Monarch, the Black Witch is stationary in South Florida, but migratory elsewhere. It prowls by night and rests in crevices during the day, and if disturbed, will fly up, bat-like, and disappear. A hike through the hammocks of North Key Largo is very likely to produce at least one Black Witch, but I have had them in my yard as well – where there is Cat’s Claw and native Sennae species, and crevices and moist, shady areas. I have never seen one feeding at night, but I understand they come to rotting fruit…something to try!

What’s the deal with the fiddlewood leafroller?

by Jennifer Possley

If you have fiddlewoods (Citharexylum spinosum) in your yard, chances are you have had fiddlewood leafrollers (Epicorsia oedipodalis), too. 

Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum)

Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum).

 Photo by Roger Hammer.

The larvae of this moth hatch en masse and can quickly devour young leaves, skeletonize older leaves, or roll them into a tube sealed with a protective “tent” of silk.  Discovering fiddlewood leafrollers in your trees might be initially alarming, but fight the urge to spray insecticide or pull off the larvae.  Your fiddlewoods will look chewed up for a few weeks, but, as FNPS president Steve Woodmansee states, “tent caterpillars are an important food source for birds, especially those rearing young.  In addition, no need to prune your tree.  So I like 'em.”  One way to reduce the visual impact of fiddlewood leafrollers in your yard is to simply not cluster more than one fiddlewood together. 

Fiddlewood leafroller larvae are actually pretty cute.  They have bright orange heads with lemon yellow bodies covered with showy black and white spots. 

Fiddlewood leafrollers (Epicorsia oedipodalis)

Fiddlewood leafrollers (Epicorsia oedipodalis).

Photo by Jennifer Possley.

The adult moths are less interesting; they are yellowish-tan, with a wingspan just under 4 cm.  According to one of my favorite websites,, this species’ range includes the Greater Antilles and South Florida, and it also can host on lancewood (Nectandra coriacea).  See the adult at

Firebush and the Pluto Sphinx

by Roger Hammer

Back when I was gainfully employed as the manager of Castellow Hammock Park, with a phone available to the general public, each year I’d get two or three phone calls with reports of small hummingbirds visiting the flowers of firebush (Hamelia patens).

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush (Hamelia patens).

 Photo by Shirley Denton.

And then I’d have to explain to the homeowner that they were pluto sphinx moths, not hummingbirds. Admittedly, they do hover in front of flowers like hummingbirds, but they mostly feed at dusk, or after dark, when hummingbirds are settled in for the night. The pluto sphinx moth (Xylophanes pluto) is mostly green, with a pointed abdomen and gold patches at the base of the hindwings.

Pluto sphinx moth (Xylophanes pluto)  Pluto sphinx moth (Xylophanes pluto)

Pluto sphinx moth (Xylophanes pluto), larvae and adult.

Photos from

When resting, their wings are swept back at an angle. Not only do the adult moths nectar on the flowers of firebush, the larvae feed on the leaves, so if you see large 2-toned brown larvae (with a pair of fake eye spots toward the head) feeding on the leaves of your firebush, leave them alone and they’ll turn into beautiful pluto sphinx moths.

Biting the hand that feeds you?

by Suzanne Koptur

The beautiful flowers of the rough-leaved velvetseed, Guettarda scabra, open mostly in the late afternoon, sometimes pried open by eager flower flies, but really ready for action once night falls.  The flowers are white or pale pink in color, with long tubes that contain nectar, and they are very fragrant (to some, the nicest scent of any flower in the pine rocklands!).  Rough-leaved velvetseed flowers are visited by an array of hawkmoths, including Peregonia lusca (Half-blind sphinx)

Half-blind sphinx (Peregonia lusca) moth Half-blind sphinx (Peregonia lusca) moth

Half-blind sphinx (Peregonia lusca) moth and caterpillar on Krug’s Holly (Ilex krugiana). Photos by Suzanne Koptur.

These moths also lay their eggs on the new leaves of velvetseed, and the caterpillars munch the leaves at night, hiding along the leaf midribs during the day, where their little tails are all that gives them away.  Whenever I see munching on velvetseeds I look for hawkmoth caterpillars, though sometimes the leaves have been devoured by echo moth caterpillars (those guys are known to eat a wide variety of plants).  Actually, the caterpillars of Peregonia lusca are also found eating Krug’s holly (Ilex krugiana) in Everglades National Park.   Hawkmoths are more specialized than many moths, but this hawkmoth utilizes hostplants in at least two different plant families throughout its range (from Florida and Texas down through Central and South America).

The Beautiful Bella Moth

by Steve Woodmansee

Have you ever walked through a pineland, or the back dunes of the beach, and seen flashes of pink flittering about?  Chances are that you happened upon the sweet little Bella moth. 

Bella Moth  Bella Moth

Bella Moth caterpillar and adult on Low Rattlebox (Crotalaria pumila). Photo by Steve Woodmansee.

About an inch long, this showy, pink moth is also known as the Rattlebox moth, since its host plant are members of the Rattlebox plant genus Crotalaria, of which two species are native to Florida,  the Dwarf or Low Rattlebox (C. pumila), and the lovely diminutive Rabbitbells (C. rotundifolia).  Both can be quite common in mesic to dry pinelands as well as coastal strand habitats throughout the Florida peninsula.  This moth is special in that it is diurnal, and active during the day, like most members of the Tigermoth Family, to which it belongs.  Caterpillars are black and orange striped, with long stingless awns projecting from the body.


HOME FOR SALE: See MLS#A1646776. Custom 4BR/2Bath, pool, water treatment, generator, solar water, & much more on 1 ¼ acres located in the Redland/Homestead area. Over 250 native plants (hammock, pineland & misc), fruit trees & palms. Many butterflies, birds, pollinators & other wildlife. Nice quiet Paradise! Relocating, hate to sell it, but . . . Lauren McFarland

Contact Nancy O’Brien 305-248-1674, Keyes Real Estate

homes for sale -

HOME FOR SALE: 9720 sw 162 st.  3/2 home with a two car garage and ¼ acre yard with 30 years worth of mostly Native Plant landscaping. The house and yard are shaded by spreading Willow Bustics, Gumbo Limbos, Lysilomas, Satin Leafs, an oak and a large Lignum Vitae. The back yard is screened by large native shrubs, attracting many butterflies and birds. There is also an orchid house with a sprinkler system.  Palmetto Middle and Senior High schools. $159,900. Contact: Anthony Askowitz at Re/Max:  305-251-2127, Ext. 117.

Home for sale

HOME FOR SALE: ZEN SANCTUARY   There are only a handful of homes in the Redlands of Southeast Florida situated in a natural forest.  Here is your opportunity to acquire a rarely available property.  5 acres with main house and guest cottage with garages. Call or email for more details  Paula Lounsbury, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate  305-970-9530,

Home for sale

Home for sale

Specify your Tillandsia and/or Sabal Minor delivery preference by contacting FNPS at or 321-271- 6702.
For each publication, indicate email or postal mail. You may also specify Palmetto delivery preference to be enacted at a future date (email delivery of the Palmetto is not currently available).


Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:

President: Buck Reilly,, 786-291-4824
Vice-President: Amy Leonard,, 305-458-0969
Secretary:  Gita Ramsay (, 786-877-7168)
Treasurer: Susan Walcutt, (
At Large: Amida Frey,  Lauren McFarland, Eric von Wettberg, Vivian Waddell, Kurt Birchenough, Surey Rios
FNPS board: Lauren McFarland

Past President: Ted Shaffer

Mailing address:

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

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator: Cheryl & Ben Morgan (

Membership: Patty Phares, (, 305-255-6404)       

DCFNPS Facebook:

DCFNPS Website:

DCFNPS email:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia interim editor: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

Assistant editors: Lauren McFarland

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 per month.

State Organization

FNPS Chapter representative: Lauren McFarland

FNPS Web Page:

FNPS Blog:

FNPS Facebook:

FNPS Twitter:

FNPS Eco Action Alert List: Send email request to

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