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Newsletter - September 2013

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Dade Chapter News
DCFNPS Treasurer's Report
Other News and Events
Garden As If Life Depends On It
BREAKING NEWS! Air potatoes soon to be "fried"?
Online Reading
Yard of the month
Contacts for DCFNPS


Sept. 21 (Sat.): Field trip (privately-owned pinelands, 4p.m.)
Sept. 24 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Garden

Oct. 6 (Sun.): Field trip (Deering Estate rehydration)
Oct. 19 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Oct. 22 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Garden
Oct. 26 (Sat.): Miami Shores Green Day (volunteers needed)

Nov. 8-10 (Fri.-Sun.): FTBG Ramble (volunteers needed)
Nov. 17 (Sun): Field trip to Okaloacoochee Shough (Hendry County)
Nov. 26 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Garden

Dec. 7 (Sat.): Annual Holiday picnic
Dec. 14 (Sat): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Field trip TBA


Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
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).  The plant raffle follows the program.  Please label your raffle donations with the plant name.   Your contributions to the raffle and refreshments are always needed and greatly appreciated.

"The Million Orchid Project: A new urban restoration initiative for South Florida" – Dr. Carl Lewis, Director, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is propagating a million native orchid plants for restoration into South Florida’s urban landscapes.  The new Micropropagation Laboratory at Fairchild is generating large quantities of native orchid plants from seed, through the help of dozens of volunteers and thousands of students.  Local school landscapes and urban tree plantings will be the primary targets for orchid replanting.  The goal is to have at least one million orchids reestablished within five years, with a large proportion flowering and reproducing naturally.  As the project progresses, our scientists will teach Fairchild visitors, students, and our local community about the complexity and fragility of natural South Florida environments and the value of native biodiversity.

As the Director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden since 2008, Dr. Lewis’s goal is to maximize the value of the Garden's extraordinary resources for education and conservation.  He first came to Fairchild in 2001 as a research scientist.  He has a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Cornell University.  His research on the biodiversity of tropical plants takes him throughout the world, but most of his work is focused in southeast Asia.  Since opening Fairchild’s new science facilities in December, 2012, he initiated the Million Orchid Project in South Florida based on a similar, highly successful project in Singapore.

October 22 meeting: "Ants and native plants" – Ian Jones, PhD candidate at FIU, will speak about ants tending Senna plants to protect them, and other interesting ant-plant relationships.


If the weather is very bad, call Patty at 305-255-6404 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.

Saturday, September 21, 2013,  4 –7 p.m. : Two South Dade privately-owned pinelands. 

Chapter field trip to Nixon Smiley Pineland, August 4, 2013. Photo by Dave King
Chapter field trip to Nixon Smiley Pineland, August 4, 2013.
Photo by Dave King

We will first visit a 5-acre property including 3.5-acre of pineland with a county EEL covenant, followed by a 1-acre pineland about 10 minutes away.  Join us for one or both sites.  Those interested can go out to dinner together afterward.  Or have lunch on your own beforehand at the Fruit and Spice Park’s Mango Café, 24801 SW 187 Ave. ( 305-247-572).

Privately-owned remnant pinelands are an essential component of our greatly-reduced pine rockland community. These two sites demonstrate two different styles of management, but both owners put tremendous effort into maintaining them.  Each will tell us what their property was like when they obtained it and how it became what it is today.

One owner is hoping to keep the pines and shrubs with modest understory brush reduction and no burning, so some herbs documented in surveys of her property may be suppressed or hidden.  But we may also find new ones such as the huge Man-in-the-ground, Ipomoea microdactyla, recently discovered in bloom.  In the remaining acreage are open, scenic islands with statuary, koi pond, orchids and other exotics. 

The other owner is actively managing his acre to keep the pines and understory intact on most of the property, with aggressive reduction of understory shrubs without fire. He has many Tetrazygia, large silver palms, both rough and Everglades velvetseed and many other shrubs, ferns, bromeliads and wildflowers.  He also has a great collection of rocks and wood to show us.  You are also welcome to dig up volunteers of many plants.

  • Difficulty:  Easy/moderate. Very short distance on unpaved paths (some with pinnacle rock and roots at Leon’s).  You can opt out of routes that are very rocky or brushy.
  • Bring/wearWater, closed shoes, long pants suggested (may be a little poison ivy, scratchy smilax, evening mosquitoes).

Please mark your calendar and save the October field trip information in case the October newsletter does not reach you by this date.

Sunday, October 6, 2013, 8:45 a.m. – noon.  A revisit: the Deering Estate at Cutler re-hydration area and ferns.

At one time, a finger glade filled with freshwater vegetation carried water from the Everglades a short distance through what is now the Deering Estate to Biscayne Bay.  Since the 1950s, when flood control canals were constructed, the slough has been disconnected from its historic fresh water source.  But a multi-agency rehydration project has now reconnected the slough to provide environmental benefits.  When we visited this area in December 2007, the water had not yet started flowing, but it is now. The timing is currently not natural and is being pumped at nighttime and through the morning if water levels are sufficiently high, so we have a good possibility of seeing the water flow.  We will be able to see some of the effects of the rehydration on the flora, including ferns and aquatic vegetation.

The Deering Estate is one of the County’s largest natural areas parks and includes most of the rare habitat types represented in the County, including rockland hammock, pine rockland, transverse glade, mangrove wetlands, and herbaceous coastal marsh.  There are many rare and protected species in the park, especially ferns that should benefit from the rehydration project.  We will visit the transverse glade and surrounding rockland hammock.   

Several key players in this project will accompany us.  Our leader, Craig Grossenbacher will give an overview of the project; Jennifer Possley will be our fern expert and discuss the monitoring program that is evaluating the vegetation response to the rehydration; Dallas Hazelton can talk about the history of the site and the challenges that arose for getting the project built.  Craig is a Section Manager with the Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) in the Miami-Dade County Regulatory and Economic Resources Department (RER).  Jennifer is a Field Biologist for the Center for Tropical Plant Conservation at Fairchild, where she monitors rare plants.  Dallas is an Environmental Resources Project Supervisor for the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces (PROS) Department.

Don’t miss this special opportunity to see a part of the Deering Estate that you normally would not be able to visit and to have a host of knowledgeable leaders.  There is no entrance fee and you may bring lunch to enjoy afterward at the Estate’s picnic tables.

  • Difficulty Moderate, 1-1.5 miles, some walking off-trail in rocky, uneven substrate, particularly at the start of the trip (you may get wet or muddy feet)
  • Bring/wear: Water, sturdy walking shoes that can get wet, long pants, long sleeves, sun and insect protection, lunch if you care to picnic after the trip (leave in your car).  A walking stick might be handy for some.
  • Lost?: Patty’s cell (305-878-5705) the morning of the trip.


Welcome new members and welcome back to old friends. Michael Breiner, Dr. Barry N. Burak, Caridad Eno, Jose Ivan Lopez (Tropolis, Inc.), Joy McClafferty, Ana Miron (student).  Thank you to all who have renewed or rejoined recently - .your support of FNPS and the Dade Chapter is greatly appreciated.

DCFNPS Gann Conservation Grant Fund.  Our chapter’s donation will again support the FNPS awards announced at the annual conference each May.  Please continue to support our chapter’s fund by sending donations to the chapter (Dade Chapter FNPS, 6619 South Dixie Hwy, #181, Miami FL 33143-7919) or participate in special fund-raisers throughout the year. 

Dade Chapter board meetings.  All members are welcome to attend or to send suggestions for items for the board to consider.  Please contact president Buck Reilly (, 786- 291- 4824) for more information.  This is your chapter – help it thrive by giving your gift of involvement, including your ideas.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Ramble, November 8-10.  Please save the dates to volunteer for our chapter display, or consider ideas and items you might contribute to the display.  Details for volunteering will be provided in October.

Annual Holiday Potluck Picnic.  Save the date for Saturday, December 7, 2013, at the University of Miami's Gifford Arboretum.  This year DCFNPS, Miami Blue NABA, Tropical Audubon Society and TREEmendous Miami are invited to join the Gifford Arboretum annual picnic.  More details later.

FDEP Conservation Land Assessments.   Comments needed before September 13 about state lands for potential sale. Florida DEP is looking at a long list of state-owned conservation lands to assess what the state owns and determine the conservation value of each.  Some could be sold in order to purchase lands with more conservation value.  Comments from FNPS members would be very helpful.  Please see the FNPS home page for more information.  If you have good knowledge of any of the properties or can visit and evaluate them, please consider adding your comments.  Open the first link to Florida DEP to find a list of sites under consideration.  Sites in the Keys especially need our evaluation.  Of course, you can comment on lands in other areas as well.

The September-October Sabal Minor, the bi-monthly FNPS newsletter, is available on the FNPS website at Read about chapter happenings around the state, conservation news, deadlines for grant applications and a nice mention of DCFNPS.

Florida's Water and Land Legacy Campaign.  As you know, the Campaign seeks to place an amendment to Florida's Constitution on the November 2014 ballot. This amendment would provide revenue to fund acquisition and management of conservation lands (and more).  See the FNPS blog at for more information and for a personal petition which you can print and mail in yourself.  The required signatures must be obtained by November 30.  Act now!

October 26, 2013 - Good for All. Celebrate Fall.
DCFNPS volunteers are needed for this afternoon of fun and learning.

The Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce is presenting its first GREEN DAY festival, which aims to both educate and entertain its residents and guests from surrounding communities. The Dade Chapter is very excited to be a part of some behind the scenes planning (a special thank you to Gwen Burzycki!).  We will spread the word about native plants and promote Native Plant Day 2014 (March 22 at the nearby Elaine Gordon Enchanted Forest Park in North Miami). 

The committee has solicited and secured sponsorships and participation from many prestigious green energy, organic companies and organizations.  Some of these are FPL, Mr. Solar, Tesla Motor Company (electric cars), Ford Motor Company (hybrid cars), Whole Foods,  IOBY (In Your Own Backyard), Home Depot, Bakehouse Art Complex (recycled artworks exhibit), Florida Native Plant Society, Miami Dade County’s environmental divisions and many Chamber businesses, who will all feature green gifts and activities provided by DCFNPS.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Miami Shores.  For more information about participants and schedule, or for your business to participate (Miami Shores Chamber membership not required) see volunteer with DCFNPS, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Gita Ramsay at 786-877-7168,


The Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society ended the fiscal year (June 30, 2013) with a modest profit after tightening our belts to break even.  The majority of our income is from our Chapter's portion of FNPS dues.  I encourage you to bring a friend to one of our monthly meetings.  Once they are in the door, it is an easy sell to get them to join with the modest fee for FNPS membership.  This will allow us to expand our work in the community and also purchase some new books for our merchandise table.

Our operating bank balance as of June 30, 2013, was $7,527.62.  A DCFNPS Money Market account holds the Bob Kelley Memorial Fund of $48,648.40.  Bob Kelley, a long time DCFNPS member, left funds in his will for our Chapter.  The Kelley Memorial Fund was created for Chapter use on special projects.  This year we used money from this fund to match our member contributions toward a FNPS Conservation Grant, in the name of Joyce and Don Gann, as recognition of their valuable contributions and long support of the Dade Chapter.

Susan Walcutt, Treasurer

PROFIT  & LOSS  -  July 2012 through June 2013

  Ordinary Income/Expense  
     DONATIONS* 333.00
     MEMBERSHIP DUES 3,100.60
   Total Income    6,443.60
     ADMINISTRATION    676.47
     EDUCATION 4,709.86
  Total Expense 5,985.78
  Net Ordinary Income 457.82
  Other Income/Expense  
     FL SALES TAX 58.61
  Net Other Income ( 9.28)
    Net Income 448.54
*does not include $1,170.00 in member donations to the Gann Conservation Grant Fund


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. Join on the website (free) to receive an email reminder and to post plant photos for identification or discussion.

  • September 17 topic:  Trees of freshwater swamps.

Adopt-A-Tree,  September 14, 9 a.m. – noon.  Miami-Dade homeowners may receive 2 free trees per year from the county.  See  or call 311 for rules and additional information. The last event of 2013 is at Miami Springs Community Center, 1401 Westward Drive.  The species include dahoon holly (Ilex cassine, a widespread native in FL) and orange geigertree (Cordia sebestena, native in FL to the Keys and extreme southern Miami-Dade) and several fruit tree species.  Species, event dates and times are subject to change. 

Citizens for a Better South Florida.
"An Evening in the Garden" - Saturday, September 28, 2013, at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy a spectacular garden, live music from local musician Bob Bonnen, hors d'oeuvres, open bar for guests 21 and over, and silent auction items and packages from local businesses and organizations.  Celebrate and support CITIZENS' environmental education and protection of South Florida since 1989.  $50 for Citizens Member, $60 Non-Member, $25 Children.  See or call 305-648-0000.

Citizens for a Better South Florida, Inc., a private 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, is dedicated to providing environmental education, particularly to the diverse underserved community that inspires active stewardship and preservation of the south Florida environment.  (And they are a member of FNPS!)

The Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival, Sept. 24 - 29, 2013.  Programs, field trips and workshops for nature lovers of all ages. Festival activities span the length of the Keys, from Everglades National Park to the Dry Tortugas.  The festival is anchored at Curry Hammock State Park, mile marker 56.2.  Advance registration is required for the limited space on many trips.  The family-oriented Wildlife Festival is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 28, at Curry Hammock State Park on the beach, with free admission to the park.  See

Friends of the Gifford Arboretum meeting, October 2, 2013: Dr. Larry Noblick of Montgomery Botanical Center will present "From the Jungle to the Garden - The Importance of Gardens to Palm Conservation in the Modern World."  Social at 7 pm, followed by the program.  Cox Science Bldg., Room 166. Univ. of Miami. For directions or info on meetings and Music in the Arboretum: 305-284-1302.

Tropical Audubon Society.  For other news and activities, see or call 305-667-7337.

Environmental Leadership Workshop, October 5-6, at the Deering Estate.  Facilitated by TAS, numerous environmental and area business partners, this workshop will connect the private and nonprofit sectors with fresh talent to help reshape Miami’s ecological future.  On the agenda: morning and afternoon field trips, environmental topics ranging from local conservation issues, grassroots organizing and diversity, to crafting your message, navigating political channels, engaging via social media and nonprofit fundraising, and more.


by Mary Collins

Have you ever thought about what happens when a native wooded area is cleared for a building site?  It is obvious that the trees and undergrowth has been removed, but what about all the creatures that were living in or would visit this area?  The insects that were feeding on plants growing in the woods are gone; the birds no longer have a reason to visit this location to look for food such as caterpillars and other insects because their food plants are gone.  When a local habitat is removed local extinction takes place.  All the creatures, large and small, are gone from this area. This kind of destruction takes place every day.  The plants and the animals who were visiting the habitat have disappeared.

Through a process called photosynthesis, plants create oxygen.  Plants moderate weather patterns and plants deliver almost all the ecosystems services that keep us around.  Without plants, animals that depend on them disappear.  Plants make food and provide shelter for animals.  The once pristine world has been converted into cities, suburbs and agriculture for human needs.  Breeding birds have suffered great losses of populations.

Natural preserves set aside do not provide enough habitats for healthy ecosystems.  We need corridors of native plants to keep sustaining all the animals that depend on them.  Often, our yards support very little biodiversity.  Our challenge is to raise the carrying capacity of our yards and neighborhoods so that they can be healthy, functioning ecosystems.  The carrying capacity depends on plants, the basis of the food web. 

All plants do not support wildlife equally.  Exotic plants, such as those from China, Asia, etc. do not support local diversity.  Non-native plants support fewer insects and thus support fewer birds which feed on the insects.  Nearly all birds depend on insects, especially caterpillars, to feed to their young and must nest in an area where such insects are found.

Plants produce distasteful chemicals in their leaves for defense against insects.  Some insects have adapted and specialize in order to eat specific plants.  This adaptation takes a long evolutionary exposure to develop this ability to ingest poisonous or distasteful leaves without suffering consequences.  Most insects can develop and reproduce only on the plant species with which they share an evolutionary history. The downside of this specialization is that they must have specific plants in order to survive and reproduce.  An example of this specialization is Monarch butterflies and milkweed.

So, why should we be concerned about insects?  Many mammals depend on insects as a source of food.  Nearly all nesting birds feed insects to their babies.  Some take as many as 300 caterpillars a day when feeding their young.  Predator birds, such as hawks, feed on the smaller birds.  Other animals such as squirrels, possums and frogs also feed on insects.  Plants are at the base of the food web … insects feed on them, mammals feed on the insects.  Other mammals feed on the insect feeders.  We cannot remove insects in the local food web without the food web collapsing.

We need to think about our properties in a different way.  We need to consider, when designing and planting our landscapes, how we can add to the ecosystem services to insure the survival of the food web.  Plants should not be viewed as just ‘decorations’.  Is the solution to just plant native species?  Not necessarily because not all native plants support equal amounts of wildlife.  Oaks (Quercus) and Prunus species are two of the top plant genera that support butterflies and moths.  For further information about plants and the numbers of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) they support please see:

To share our neighborhoods with wildlife we need to:

  • Create corridors of appropriate plants connecting natural areas
  • Reduce the area now in lawn – an essentially worthless ecosystem
  • Begin the transition from non-native, exotic ornamental plants to native ornamentals.

It is a design challenge of our time, especially in South Florida.  Canopy trees, sub-canopy, a shrub layer and ground covers using native plant material will help to have a healthy food web in our yards and neighborhoods.  Planting natives is a ‘grass roots’ approach to conservation in our own yards.  This is something we can all do.  The way we garden, the way we landscape, is going to determine what life looks like in the future.  Garden as if life depends on it …

This article was written based upon a lecture by University of Delaware professor Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home.  Mary Collins is Senior Horticulturist at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and a member of FNPS.

Air potatoes soon to be "fried"?

by Gwen Burzycki

Leaf damage by biocontrol agent on air potato
Leaf damage by biocontrol agent on air potato

The highly invasive vine air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) has been a persistent and serious problem in many natural areas, but that may be changing.  This photo shows the level of damage by a recently released biocontrol beetle that feeds on air potato leaves.  The beetle was released last year at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, a Miami-Dade County park near Kendall Drive and SW 107 Avenue which has been heavily infested with air potato.  The beetle successfully overwintered, so it is now considered established there.

There have been releases at other natural areas parks, but the monitoring to see where else they have successfully established is not yet complete.  With this kind of damage, we should start seeing a reduction in the populations of this noxious exotic vine in the next few years. 

Kudos to USDA's Agricultural Research Station in Ft. Lauderdale for the hard work to find, screen, release, and monitor this beetle, which eats air potato and only air potato, so is no threat to our native flora.

Gwen Burzycki is with Miami-Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands program.  She is a member of FNPS.


The Pinellas Chapter FNPS newsletter, The Understory, ( is a great resource to check out every other month for good reads.  The newsletter is available to the public two months after release, but as a member of FNPS you may also subscribe to electronic delivery of their current newsletter. 

From April-May, 2013:

  • "Permaculture, Part I" by Andy Karpinski: "This is Part I of a three part series on permaculture and native plants in the urban landscape. Part I covers the basic concepts of permaculture. Part II will focus on permaculture in a native plant landscape. Part III will cover permaculture and natives in a food-producing yard. I decided over a decade ago to get rid of the turf grass in my yard…" (Of course, you’ll want to catch Parts II and III in later issues.)
  • "President's Message" by Jan Allyn: "Share the Wealth! One of the best things about taking part in Chapter activities is the opportunity to interact with other members and learn from them. It’s often hard to absorb and retain knowledge found in a book or on the internet, but when you see something in nature firsthand and hear an interesting tidbit about it from a friend, you are much more likely to hold on to the information…"
  • "Plant Family Quiz - Test your understanding of plant families of related native Florida plants"


photo of Possley Garden

Jennifer Possley’s shady, lush and wildlife-friendly native plant garden

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,