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Newsletter - November - December 2012

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
Dade Chapter News
Other News and Events
The Hunt For Red (in) October
Paid advertisement
Contacts for DCFNPS


Nov. 9-11 (Fri.-Sun.): FTBG Ramble - DCFNPS display
Nov. 17 (Sat.): Chapter workday at Bill Sadowski Park
Nov. 24 (Sat.): Field trip (Big Cypress)
Nov. 27 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens

Dec. 2 (Sun.): Annual holiday picnic at Bill Sadowski Park
(Also the December field trip and chapter board meeting)
Dec. 8-9 (Sat.-Sun.): Butterfly Days at FTBG - DCFNPS display.
Dec. 15 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Note:  No December 16 field trip (as was previously announced).  Instead, see December 2.
No December meeting or newsletter


Jan. 5 (Sat.): Bolla/Gann Holiday party - please RSVP
Jan. 22 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
Other activities TBA

Mar. 23: 18th Annual Native Plant Day - save the date!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 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 and credit cards) -- do your holiday shopping!  The plant raffle follows the program.  Please label your raffle donations with the plant name.

"How Genetics Can Assist in the Conservation of Florida Rare Native Plants"

Dr. Eric von Wettberg will speak about ways genetics can help us protect rare species in Florida and the Caribbean.  He will use the Keys tree cactus and Miccosukee gooseberry as examples.

Dr. Wettberg is a conservation geneticist with a joint appointment as an assistant professor in Florida International University's Biology Department and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's Center for Tropical Plant Conservation.  He studies how responses of plants (natives and crops) to soil stress are controlled by genetic and environmental factors.  His research is closely tied to his teaching, and he is committed to the education and research training of graduate and undergraduate students and high school student interns.  His current projects include studies of salt tolerance of wild alfalfa, domestication of chickpea, and conservation management planning using genetic data for Sargent's cherry palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii), the Keys tree cactus (Pilosocereus robinii), the Miccosukee gooseberry (Ribes echinellum), the Big Pine Partridge pea (Chameacrisa lineata var keyensis), and Harper's Beauty (Harperocallis flava).  Eric is also a member of FNPS and a board member of the Dade Chapter.

January 22, 2013: Program by Roger Hammer on endemic species – plants found in Florida and nowhere else on Earth.

LogoPlease help us reach our goal by donating to the FNPS Conservation Grant Award sponsored by the Dade Chapter in honor of our founders, Joyce and Don Gann.

Donate at a chapter meeting or mail to:  

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

Please make your check payable to DCFNPS and indicate that is for "Conservation Grant fund."  DCFNPS will match the donations. Download a printable Conservation Donation Form.


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 their guests. Collecting is not permitted. Children are welcome. For more info, call Patty Phares (305-255-6404).

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24, Monument Lake, Big Cypress National Preserve.  We will hike along buggy trails through wet pineland, muhly prairie and cypress heads in search of fall wildflowers and terrestrial orchids.

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on how far you care to go.  Conditions could include some mud/puddles, uneven ground, optional off-road side excursions into damp/wet areas.  (Or it might be dry and smooth all the way -- we won't know until we are there, but that's part of the adventure.)
  • Bring/wear: Water, snack or lunch, sun protection, long pants, closed shoes that can get muddy/wet, maybe a walking stick.
  • Leader: Chuck McCartney
  • Lost? Try Patty's cell (305-878-5705 - for use that day only).

Time, detailed location and directions are in the print or e-mail newsletter sent to members.  Please join to enjoy all the activities of the chapter!

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2:30 pm:  Bill Sadowski Park.  If you aren't already at the Annual Holiday Potluck Picnic, come at 2:30 to join the walk through the hammock, restored slough and arboretum.  See the picnic announcement.  (No field trip on December 16, as was previously in the calendar.) 

Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society
Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Assoc.
TREEmendous Miami
Tropical Audubon Society

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 12:30 – 3:30 pm
Rain or shine!

Bill Sadowski Park
17555 SW 79 Ave, Palmetto Bay
Bring family, nature-loving friends and your favorite dish!
RSVPs by November 30 are greatly appreciated
(but late/no-responders should come, too).

Please tell us the number attending, your potluck item (main dish, side/salad, or dessert) and phone number.  Cash donations are also possible. Tea/lemonade and paper goods are provided (you may bring beer in cans and wine). 

Respond to Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

Directions: From Old Cutler Road, turn west on SW 176 Street, go 1/2 mile.

After lunch in the picnic shelter, you can take an easy nature walk at 2:30 with plant, butterfly and bird experts.  Bring your binoculars for bird and butterfly spotting.  Or enjoy the park's trails and nature center on your own.  You may also fish in the adjacent canal or use the park's canoes to take a paddle.

About the park: This Miami-Dade County park offers trails through a preserved Rockland Hammock full of solution holes, karst formations and ferns (unpaved but easy walking); a restored Everglades slough; and arboretum (recently refurbished by the Native Plant Society).  There is also a nature center with wildlife exhibits.  See


The Dade Chapter board meets on December 2 at Bill Sadowski Park prior to the holiday potluck picnic.  All members are welcome to attend or to send suggestions for items for the board to consider.  Please contact president Buck Reilly ( for more information.

Chapter workday at Bill Sadowski Park arboretum, November 17, 9 am-noon.  Help hang plant signs, remove exotics, clean up before the December picnic.

  • Address: 17555 SW 79 Ave., Palmetto Bay (1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 St.)
  • Bring: Gloves, hand tools (weeding tools, clippers, loppers, pruning saws), your own drinks and snacks.
  • Wear: Long pants, closed shoes
  • Contact: Buck Reilly (786-291-4824, for questions or to be added to the reminder list for future workdays.

DCFNPS table at Butterfly Days at Fairchild, December 8-9.  (Read about the event elsewhere in this newsletter.)  We need:

  • Volunteers to talk to visitors at the table
  • Caterpillars, chrysalises, native butterfly plants for display 
  • Contact Patty Phares (pphares@mindspring,com, 305-255-6404).

Chapter workday, Everglades National Park, December 15, 9am -noon.  Help the chapter enhance the Coe Visitor Center entrance.  This is the important pre-tourist season workday.  Weed and prune as we enjoy the beautiful weather.  Water provided; bring snacks to share if you care to.  Gloves and hand tools are available but you may prefer to use your own.  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).

Newsletter assistance.  If you might be a candidate to edit, format or assist with announcements and articles, please contact Patty Phares (, 305-255-6404) or Buck Reilly (, 786-291-4824)

Do you have photos of a recent chapter activity or plants seen on a field trip? An announcement or informative article?  Share with your fellow members -- please contact the editor!

18th Annual Native Plant Day: March 23, 2013 at Bill Sadowski Park.  Save the date to attend the chapter's premier event!  Please contact Amy Leonard (305-458-0969, if you would like to help with planning, publicity or have questions.  It's not too soon to start potting up plants for the raffle and sale, and while you're thinking of it, tell your friends and family so they can put it on their calendars. 

Welcome new members!  Leonard Abess (Native Tree Nursery); Sarah Martin (Institute for Regional Conservation)

The Annual Bolla / Gann
Nature Lovers Holiday Party
January 5, 2013 - 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Home of Don and Joyce Gann in the Redlands, SW 154th Ave.

 FNPS, Native Plant Workshop, parks staff, plant huggers
… all nature-loving friends (and family) are invited

Soup, iced tea and coffee will be provided. 
Please bring a dish to share.
Bring a flashlight - parking is on an unlit roadside.
Please RSVP to Mark Bolla ( or
216-721-4080) or Joyce Gann (786-423-1881).
Ask for directions if needed.


FNPS Annual Conference, May 16-19, 2013: "Celebrating La Florida" in Jacksonville. Enjoy field trips, programs, socials, plant and merchandise sales, landscaping workshop.

  • Research track papers and poster presentations are invited.
  • Applications for Research Grants, Conservation Grants and Landscape Awards to be announced at the conference are due March 1, 2013.  Landowners, agencies and organizations are encouraged to enter their native plant landscape or restoration.  (

The spectacular 2011 FNPS Annual Report is complete!  Read about all our accomplishments in the preceding year.

FNPS endorses the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment to be placed on the ballot in 2014.  Since 2009, funding for water and land conservation programs has been slashed by 97.5 percent.  This amendment requires that the conservation, management and restoration programs be funded by a portion of the existing documentary stamp tax revenues. FNPS, many chapters and other organizations are joining in support of our natural resources.  FNPS will be participating in Florida's Water and Land Legacy campaign.  For more information and to help gather signatures, see

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meetings at 7pm, Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 W State Road 84.  See the new website for the newsletter and field trips.

  • Nov. 14: Roger Hammer, "Florida Endangered Wildflowers"
  • Dec. 12: Elizabeth Golden, "The Imperiled Species of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park"


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. See or contact Steve at  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.  

If you join on the website (it's free) you will receive a monthly email reminder and you may post plant photos for identification or discussion.

  • Nov. 20 topicChamaesyces (sandmats)
  • Dec. 18 topic:  Gymnosperms (cone bearing plants like pine and coontie).  We'll also have our holiday potluck refreshments, so feel free to bring something to munch on (and maybe to identify first).

Position vacancy.  Fairchild’s South Florida Conservation Program seeks a temporary part-time Plant Conservation Research Assistant to propagate native plant species; collect seeds for restoration and distribution to the Connect to Protect Network (CTPN); conduct seed germination studies; assist ongoing field and horticultural research; monitor and map south Florida rare plants and butterfly host plants; write content, format, design, and distribute fact sheets, newsletters, and displays for CTPN; assist with habitat restoration, including removing invasive species and planting native species; help promote native plants in Miami-Dade landscapes at events.  Send resume, 3 letters of recommendation, and letter of interest to by Nov.15, 2012.

photo of torchwood
Photo by Shirley Denton

The National Park Service needs torchwood (Amyris elemifera) seeds for a project to restore a larval food of the Schaus swallowtail butterfly.  Fruit are ready to harvest when they are about 0.5-1cm long and purple/black.  Fruit may be available year round, reportedly becoming abundant on the mainland in December, and more plentiful when the rains arrive.  Harvest up to half the available mature fruit at a time, leaving some food for the fauna in your yard.  Place them in a paper bag and contact Helena Giannini at 786-249-3013,  Any small number of seeds can help this project.  

Friends of the Gifford Arboretum, University of Miami.  For more info: or 305-284-1302. For directions click 'Visits'.

  • Nov. 15: Music in the Arboretum, 5-6 pm.
  • Nov. 17: Tour of the Gymnosperm and Basal Angiosperm exhibits at 9am with Dr. Chad Husby and Steve Pearson.
  • Dec. 1: Annual Picnic. Pruning demonstration at 9:30, tour at 10:30, potluck at noon (bring a side dish if you can).

December 8-9, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Co-sponsored by the Miami Blue Chapter
of the North American Butterfly Association

  • Doug Tallamy, Ph.D., acclaimed author of Bringing Nature Home, How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, presents the Robert L. Kelley Lecture both days.  His book has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being, and caused suburbia to rethink the role of their yards.
  • Marc Minno: "Schaus’ Swallowtail and Miami Blue: Can We Bring Back Species on the Edge of Extinction – And Why Bother?"
  • Hank Poor: "Pink-spots Before Your eyes"
  • Roger Hammer and Georgia Tasker: "Conversation About Nectar Plants for Butterflies and Hummingbirds"

Tours of the new butterfly conservatory.

Plant sale: Native & exotic butterfly plants from local vendors.

Also butterfly gardening consultations; children's activities; displays by numerous organizations; book sales; book signings by the speakers.

Schedule and other information will be at and


by Jim Duquesnel

mullein nighshade photo
Mullein nightshade
(Solanum donianum)
Photo by Roger Hammer

Despite widely held opinions to the contrary, autumn colors do come to the Florida Keys. Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa), Bahama and mullein nightshades (Solanum bahamense and S. donianum), redberry stopper (Eugenia confusa) and blolly (Guapira discolor) are among the plants putting on a show right now.  Throughout the Keys, each of these plants puts out its own version of the roadside produce stand at this time of year, each species with its own trademark variation of red.

Bahama nightshade's little tomatoes are a bright orangey-red when ripe, while wild coffee berries turn a very dark “blood red.” Blolly's drupes cover a range from dark red to a hot magenta. Redberry stopper, for which I somehow managed to wait almost twenty years before finding fruits in the wild, turns out to bear fruits that are fire engine red. Everglades velvetseed's (Guettarda elliptica) downy fruits finally turn black when ripe, but are a showy bright red for quite some time before that, very eye catching when you first see them amid the leaf litter off the hammock floor.

Lignum vitae (Guiajacum sanctum) is replacing its blue blossoms with seed capsules that open to display seeds coated with a bright red aril.  The seeds of the limber caper (Capparis flexuosa) and Jamaica caper (C. cynophallophora) are also displayed this month, the former starkly white against the bright red aril of the split-open seedpods.  Limber caper even gets one of its common names, "false teeth," because the combination resembles a crooked array of teeth against red gums.

limber caper photo
Limber caper
(Capparis flexuosa)
Photo by Shirley Denton

Along the north half of the causeway, the “18-mile stretch,” between Key Largo and Florida City, splashes of bright red reveal stands of dahoon holly (Ilex cassine) lining the highway.  The first time I saw them, despite their more intense color, I mistook them for the red berries of Brazilian pepper, which occurs in the same area but seems to achieve maximum color a month or two later.

Other native fruits are ripening now, some displaying colors other than red.  White indigo-berry (Randia aculeata) and snowberry (Chiococca alba) bear abundant fruits ripening to white, already on display in October, but with more to come.  Beautyberry stands unique with clusters of fruit glowing in royal purple.

These displays of beautifully colored fruits, attractive as we may find them, are not intended to satisfy our aesthetic whims.  The show is primarily to catch the attention of songbirds, perhaps most importantly, of migrating songbirds.  Within each colorful fruit are seeds, one in each drupe and two or more in berries.  Most of these seeds are protected by a hard outer coat, capable of resisting the acids and abrasion that takes place during in a songbird's digestive tract, and facilitating long-range dispersal.

Wind-dispersed seeds may land almost anywhere; many fall on barren soils, or pavement, some sink in deep water, or end up in other inhospitable sites.  Birds, on the other hand, are a more selective dispersal method, quite likely to deposit seeds in the fertile humus that accumulates under the trees and shrubs where they perch and forage.  I have not seen any data supporting this, but it seems likely that dispersal by birds must increase the odds of seeds landing in suitable habitat.

Many native plant enthusiasts know that a majority of the trees and shrubs native to the Florida Keys, and the southern portion of the Florida peninsula, come from the West Indies rather than temperate North America.  Those of us who are also interested in songbirds can quickly pick up the fact that a large percentage of South Florida’s woody plants rely on birds for seed dispersal.

So, I wonder, did anyone else find it counter-intuitive that so many of these plants, having originated in the tropics, and arriving in Florida from points south of us, should be fruiting in autumn rather than springtime? After all, during autumn, migrating songbirds (and any seeds they may have ingested) are traveling south, rather than north … right?  Knowing a bit about how songbirds migrate, how their routes vary according to any winds or weather they encounter, helps explain why bird-dispersed seeds are actually carried in every direction.

Another factor playing a role in how our plants move about is that, unlike most temperate plants, tropical trees and shrubs commonly bear more than one crop each year; some produce fruit year-round, or nearly so.  This is especially true in the warmest parts of their ranges, where mild winters and less variation in day length permits an extending growing season and, in some cases, continuous or nearly continuous flowering and fruiting.  While each tree may bear fruit for just a month or two at a time, if you explore a bit, you will find that some percentage of our two native fig trees (Ficus aurea and F. citrifolia) are in fruit throughout most of the year, and I often see fire-bush (Hamelia patens) bearing flowers and fruit throughout the year.

So, when the autumn migration brings songbirds to the Keys, many of them fuel their trip using this bounty of fruits.  Migrating tanagers, catbirds and vireos are especially fond of soft fruits, but warblers are also seen picking at them.  As a bit of a bonus, a ripening crop of fruit also attracts many insects, and songbirds are as attracted by this as they are to the fruits. This October, blue-gray gnatcatchers and American redstarts are conspicuously flitting about the tree canopy of my yard, inspecting foliage and ripening fruits carefully in their search for flies and other insects drawn to the ripe fruits.

That so many of the plants fruiting during the migration of birds wrap their seed in the color red speaks volumes about the color's attractiveness to birds. The lesson for the backyard naturalist is that year-round, but especially during migration, native plants and the fruits they produce are a healthy way to lure birds into your yard and within range of your eyes, binoculars and camera lens.  Whether you are laying out plans for a new landscape design, or trying to squeeze in just one or two more plants into an already mature landscape, remember to include species that produce an autumn crop of red fruits. You will add some welcome color, while also bringing the southbound migrants into your yard for more than just a moment.

For the gardeners and birders who want to learn more about native plants, their fruits and seasons of production, I cannot think of any better source than P.B. Thomlinson's Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida.  In particular, the book's large introduction describes many facets of general botany as applied to our native plants.  Indispensable to anyone landscaping with wildlife in mind are the pages and charts describing the type and timing of fruit production and the methods of seed dispersal for many species.

Photos from:  Natives For Your Neighborhood.   The Institute for Regional Conservation, Miami.

Jim Duquesnel joined FNPS in 1990 and began a seventeen-year career as a state park biologist.  He started a native plant nursery at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in 1995. With the team of volunteers that still runs the nursery, he began testing less-often-used native plant species in landscape applications. At home, Jim and his wife Janice (also a biologist) have planted a diversity of natives that brings songbirds, butterflies and other wildlife within easy viewing distance.

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).

Paid advertisement

2013 Holiday Plant Sale

Image of Leslie Veber business card

24605 S.W   197th Ave, Redland, Florida 33031
Saturday, November 17th, 2011
Saturday, December 15th, 2011
9 am – 2 pm
Bring your friends and walk in the garden
- the weather should be fine!
This year, consider giving a native plant as a gift.
A plant is a gift that keeps on giving.

For a complete plant list, directions and other services available, see
or contact Leslie at 305-242-9500.
Cash or check only, please.
Hope to see you there!!


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,