Preserving, conserving, and restoring the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.


Monday, February 8, 2016

CPR of Florida's native plants and native plant communities

by FNPS Conservation Committee

Policy Statements

FNPS resolves that the preservation and perpetuation of the unique genetic diversity within and among Florida’s native plant populations and plant communities is our highest priority.  Activities that endanger this genetic diversity are in direct conflict with the society's goal of preservation of native plant species in their natural habitats.

The preservation and perpetuation of native plant communities is our highest priority.  Restoration of disturbed lands and the encouragement of the use of native plants for landscaping are important secondary goals.  However, restoration must not be considered as a desirable or an equal alternative to preservation.  Be it affirmed then:  FNPS is, dedicated to the identification, preservation and understanding of native plant communities.

FNPS organizes native plant sales across the state so people can add more natives to their landscapes.

The society recognizes that there should be exceptions to our Conservation and Preservation policies that allow the salvage of native plants and germplasm from areas where land clearing activities are both imminent and assured.  FNPS will require members to obtain all necessary permits, harden-off plants, and reintroduce salvaged material to protected recipient sites using the best available practices for restoration work by partnering with botanical institutions, scientists, universities, local native plant nurseries, FNPS Conservation and Science Committees.  Additionally, FNPS will partner with organizations and entities dedicated to the restoration and reintroduction of federally and state-listed plant species onto protected lands within the historical range of each species.

Germplasm being prepared for storage

Germplasm – 1) An individual, group of individuals or a clone representing a genotype, variety, species or culture, held in an in situ or ex situ collection. 2) Original meaning, now no longer in use: the genetic material that forms the physical basis of inheritance and which is transmitted from one generation to the next by means of the germ cells (Germplasm 2014).

Infraspecific – at a taxonomic level below that of species, e.g., subspecies, variety, cultivar, or form.  In botany, Latin names at this level usually require the addition of a term denoting the rank (Oxford Dictionaries 2014).

in situ – a Latin phrase meaning “on-site” or “in position”.

Natural community – an interactive assemblage of organisms, their physical environment, and the natural processes that affect them. Environmental factors such as soil type, bedrock type, moisture level, slope, slope aspect, climate, and the natural disturbance regime play a key role in determining a species' ability to survive there. The organisms within a natural community include: plants, animals, fungus, and microorganisms. Natural communities occur in patterns throughout the earth and range in size from thousands of acres, such as a Northern Hardwood Forest, to less than one acre, such as a seep. Natural communities change over geological and evolutionary time, and are not static.

Policy “Background Statements”

Background for Conservation Policy

Genetic diversity enables our plants and natural communities to adapt and survive.  Because of its unique biogeography and natural history, Florida is home to many native plant species that are locally adapted and genetically distinct (Frankham et al. 2009).  Further, some species are adapted to specific microhabitats within a plant community (Hartnett and Richardson 1989; Menges et al. 1999; Richardson et al. 2014).  Florida plant species and communities have adapted to extreme shifts in weather (temperature, moisture, and hurricanes), climate, sea level change, and fire.  Additionally, many species within Florida’s plant communities evolved on isolated islands during interglacial periods leading to a high degree of endemism.   In the year 2014, there were 29 federally-listed endemic plant species in the Florida scrub community alone.  

Sunset over the scrub at Archbold. Photo by Reed Bowman
 Genetic diversity within a species’ population is vital to its long-term survival.  Diversity is important not only with regard to adaptation over time (Caballero and Garcia-Dorado 2013) but to plant mating systems as well.  Small populations (generally less than 100 plants) are at greater risk of extinction and more likely to suffer from inbreeding depression and a build-up of deleterious mutations (Lynch et al. 1995).  

Threats to genetic diversity within and among populations include:
  • Habitat development and fragmentation (reduction in population sizes, loss of unique genetic adaptations)
  • Exotic species invasion (includes Florida native species introduced outside their natural, historical range or natural community)
  • Hybridization and loss of indigenous species and/or populations
  • Outbreeding depression – can occur when individuals of the same plant species, but from different populations are mated.  Most likely to occur between populations that are widely separated (i.e. no historic exchange of genes), are from different environments, or have fixed chromosomal differences (Frankham et al. 2011)
  • Fire suppression
  • Illegal harvest and/or transplantation of native plants and seeds from natural areas

Such human activities incur an enormous loss of genetic material and diversity.  This loss of germplasm is permanent and will adversely affect the future health and wellbeing of humanity.  For example, many of our Florida native plant species are the wild relatives of important agricultural crops.  Food and fiber production, increasingly challenged by the impacts of climate change, is reliant on genetic adaptations to climate extremes, as well as resistance to diseases and insect pests.  

Guidance for Conservation Policy

FNPS, its chapters, and members will therefore:
Educational pamphlet about Cypress mulch
  • Advocate for preservation of native plants and natural communities in situ.
  • Advocate for quality land management and restoration policies. 
  • Advocate for restrictions, control and removal of potentially invasive and known invasive species.
  • Provide scientifically accurate information on the natural range and natural communities of plants we describe online or in print, identify on field trips, use in landscapes, or sell at plant sales.
  • Promote landscapes that incorporate plants native to the local region and whenever possible, the original plant communities of the site. 
  • Promote scientific research on plant and population genetics that will inform restoration, land management, and landscaping practices.
  • Support research that identifies the invasion and hybridization potential of native plants when taken out of their natural range and community.
  • Provide educational materials and programs identifying and documenting known ecological impacts resulting from the use of native species outside their historical range and natural community.  
  • Support research related to nursery production and landscape use of less well-known, less available native plant species.  Work with partners to bring more native plant species to market.

Background for Preservation Policy 

The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) was organized by people concerned with the preservation and perpetuation of a vanishing resource - our native plant communities.  It is generally understood that plants provide the energy conversion that drives the earths' major ecosystems; however, plant communities perform other functions which are also crucial to ecosystem viability.  Unfortunately community functions are imperfectly understood and often neglected. 

It is a major role then for environmental organizations to promote understanding of the ecological consequences of humankind's actions.  It is the specific role, for FNPS to promote understanding of the dependency the people of Florida, the nation, and the world have on native plant communities.  Preservation and perpetuation of native plant communities are important in part because: 
  1. Native plant communities protect clean water resources.  For example:  Upland forests stabilize soil preventing erosion and the consequent degradation of receiving waters.  Wetland plant communities purify water by filtering particulates and assimilating nutrients contained in run-off. 
  2. Native plant communities help protect air quality.  Plants, especially forests, remove carbon compounds from the air and store them in woody plant tissue; 
  3. Native plant communities provide genetic diversity.  The continued production of food for humanity depends on seeking out disease and pest resistant native plant strains related to agricultural crops.  Medicines to combat pestilence must come in the future, as in the past, from plant species which may not be there when we need them. 
  4. Native plant communities provide habitat and forage for pollinators and are therefore, essential to food crop production.
  5. The wildlife and fishery resources which provide a substantial portion of humanities protein and recreation depend on the primary productivity and habitat quality of native plant communities.   
  6. Disruption of native plant communities leads to invasion by exotic pest plants.  Exotics proliferate away from natural controls and reduce habitat value for wildlife, recreation and resource management. 
  7. Native plant communities stabilize our fragile barrier islands which buffer the mainland from cyclonic wind and -storm surge. 
  8. Native plant communities provide aesthetic enjoyment and recreation to millions of our countrymen who in turn support a vast outdoor recreation industry. 
FNPS resolves that the preservation and perpetuation of native plant communities is our highest priority.  Restoration of disturbed lands and the encouragement of the use of native plants for landscaping are important secondary goals.  However, restoration must not be considered as a desirable or an equal alternative to preservation.  Be it affirmed then: FNPS is, dedicated to the identification, preservation and understanding of native plant communities.

Guided field trips help FNPS members better appreciate native ecosystems.

Background for Restoration Policy 

By promoting the use of native plants in landscaping, FNPS has helped create a demand for native plants.  This demand, combined with limited market availability has driven many to introduce and cultivate plant species outside their natural communities and/or outside their historical range.  This type of cultivation constitutes the planting of “exotic species” which could become future pests.  “Florida” is a geopolitical boundary and "native to Florida" should not be a rubberstamp to plant native species outside of their historical range or natural community.    Additionally, demand has prompted some individuals and companies to sell native plants dug from the wild.  Selling harvested plants avoids the time and expense of growing the plants under nursery conditions.  The introduction of plant species outside their historical range/natural community and the harvest of native plants from the wild are not practices that are sustainable in the long run, can damage wild plant populations by altering genetic structure, risk the spread of disease or insect pests, and risk the loss of millions of years of environmental adaptations, which are a prerequisite for most stable plant populations. 

Very little policy has been implemented on cultivated native plants with limited ranges within the state of Florida.  A severe example of this is the cultivation of Beach dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis).  Helianthus debilis has two subspecies native to peninsular Florida.  The subspecies on the eastern coast is H. debilis ssp. debilis, while H. debilis ssp. vestitus occurs naturally on the gulf coast.  Over the past twenty years or so, H. debilis ssp. debilis has been cultivated as a native plant along Florida’s gulf coast.  Over time it has hybridized with the west coast variety, degrading the local indigenous germplasm (Bradley et al., 2004).  Optimally, these cultivated plants along with the hybrids will need to be removed, allowing H. debilis ssp. vestitus to recover.  Well-intentioned, but poorly planned native plant landscaping has caused severe disturbances within natural plant communities, and has artificially altered the genetic structure of indigenous species.  

In addition to the dangers of polluting the gene pool of wild indigenous plants, the cultivation of Florida native plants outside their historic range within Florida may have other unforeseen consequences.  In South Florida, indigenous populations of West Indian Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) are found in a narrow range including the upper Florida Keys and the coastline along Florida Bay.  This species has been cultivated from Palm Beach County westward across to Lee County, and south through the Lower Florida Keys.  It has been observed invading intact natural plant communities outside of its range in areas of The Big Cypress National Preserve, Mainland Miami-Dade County, and the Lower Florida Keys including Big Pine Key, where it is altering native plant community structure (personal observations, Steve Woodmansee).  This species has been in cultivation for more than half a century and it may have taken a long time for it to begin showing these impacts.  So impacts of cultivation of native plants outside their historical range may not be observed for several years.

Guidance for Restoration Policy

FNPS will continue to strive to provide to its members all the resources necessary to successfully implement these policies.  These resources include, but are not limited to, educational materials on Florida native plant species and natural communities, guidance on plant salvage, information on the historical range of Florida native plant species, field trips to natural areas, and access to a network of experts in the fields of botany and plant conservation.

Cultivation (Preserving a sense of place)
With few exceptions, FNPS does not advocate the cultivation of native Florida plants outside their historical range within the state of Florida.  For all restoration activities, Florida native plants should, at a minimum be native to the county in which they are being cultivated.  County nativity can be referenced using the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants* (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008) in combination with any additional scientific data that may be available (check with FNPS Education, Conservation and Science Committees, publications and herbarium specimens).  Plants with limited ranges in the state (either localized, or found in only a handful of counties) are only advocated for cultivation in the counties for which they are found or historical to.  Plants subject to hybridization due to their limited ranges should also be restricted to those areas and not be sold at FNPS or FNPS chapter sales events (eg. Lantana depressa complex, Helianthus debilis complex, and Dicerandra complex).  When cultivating Florida plants outside their historical range at educational facilities and gardens, care should be maintained to educate the public on the native ranges of these species.  FNPS chapters will be encouraged to promote or sell plants native to their area, and discouraged from selling plants native outside their area.
*Please note that the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants does not differentiate nativity of Florida plants which have become naturalized outside their native range, but fortunately at this time there are few examples.

Members of the Society are asked to abide by this policy as a matter of ethics.  Specifically, members are asked to inquire about the origins of plant material and not buy plants that have been transplanted from the wild.  Landscape architects and designers are asked, when writing plant material specifications, to specify only nursery-grown native plants.  Government agencies with jurisdiction over landscaping, mitigation, and restoration projects are asked to require those projects to use only nursery-grown native plants or those from on-site or nearby salvage operations.

Plant Salvage and Transplantation
Where land clearing activities are both imminent and assured, salvage and transplantation saves plants and genetic resources that would otherwise be lost.  It is expected, however, that salvage activities not take place until all possibilities for preservation have been exhausted and all planning approvals for the site and collection permits have been obtained.  Salvage and plant rescue operations should be undertaken only in compliance with all state and local native plant protection laws.  Prior to salvage, FNPS will work with a team of conservation partners (including land managers, government representatives, botanists, and local native plant nurseries) to identify an appropriate recipient site and to ensure that salvaged material can be hardened-off and/or prepared for introduction to the recipient site.  In addition, salvaged rare and/or endangered plants should either be taken to an institute involved in the research and preservation of listed plant species or there should be a plan in place for their introduction to a protected site.  Threatened and non-threatened salvaged plants should be taken to a habitat-appropriate recipient site that is protected and managed, such as a Preserve.  In addition, care should be taken to ensure that cross pollination of similar species is avoided.

While it is unrealistic to think that FNPS can totally stop the practice of transplanting from the wild, it can supply needed leadership on this issue and, with the support of its members, help dry up the market for such plants.  It is critical that native plant communities remain as undisturbed and undamaged as possible.

Longleaf pine and wiregrass ecosystems are a part of "The Real Florida."

Policy Implementation

The Science and Conservation grant and Landscape award applicants will be made aware of this policy before applications are requested.  

Regarding plant sales:
  • A prohibited sales list of plants subject to hybridization with species or infraspecific taxa will be provided by the FNPS science committee.  
  • For each annual FNPS conference, a plant-sale committee shall be formed to work with vendors on signage and public education during the sale.
  • Prior to the opening of native plant sales at the annual conference or at FNPS chapters, the annual conference committee or local chapter shall inspect species to be sold to ensure that plants on the “prohibited sales list” are not being offered.
  • Chapters will work with local vendors at local/regional sales to promote the use of locally-sourced plant material.
  • Chapters and the Annual Conference Committee are encouraged to work with FANN members to promote the availability of suitable plant material.  One option is to make arrangement for nurseries to “contract grow” specific plants for sales events.
  • At each sale, range and habitat information will be provided for each species being sold.
  • A brochure addressing this issue will be published by FNPS by 2015. 


Bradley, K.A., G.D. Gann, and M.E. Abdo. 2004. Status survey of west coast dune sunflower,
     Helianthus debilis Nutt. subsp. vestitus (E. Watson) Heiser, in Florida. Report submitted to the U.S.
     Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecosystem Office, Vero Beach, Florida by The Institute for
     Regional Conservation.

Caballero, A., and Garcia-Dorado, A.  2013.  Allelic diversity and its implications for the rate of
     adaptation. Genetics.  Early Online, published on October 11, 2013 as 10.1534/

Frankham, R., Ballou, J. D., Eldridge, M. D. B., Lacy, R. C., Ralls, K., Dudash, M. R. and Fenster, C. B.
     2011.  Predicting the Probability of Outbreeding Depression.  Conservation Biology, 25: 465–475.
     doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01662.x"Germplasm." 

Glossary of Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture. UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
     May 25, 2014.

Hartnett, D.C., and Richardson, D.R.   1989.  Population biology of Bonamia grandiflora
     (Convovulaceae): effects of fire on plant and seed dynamics.  Am J Bot 76:361–369. 

Infraspecific.”  Oxford Dictionaries.  May 25, 2014.

Lynch, M., Conery, J., and R. Burger.  1995.  Mutation accumulation and the extinction of
      small populations.  The American Naturalist.  Vol. 146, No. 4.

Menges, E.S., McIntyre, P.J., Finer, M.S., Goss, E., and Yahr, R.  1999.  Microhabitat of the narrow
     Florida scrub endemic Dicerandra christmanii, with comparisons to its congener D. fructescens.
     J Torrey Bot Soc 126:24–31.

Richardson, M., J. Rynear, and C. Peterson.  2014.  Microhabitat of critically endangered Lupinus
     aridorum (Fabaceae) at wild and introduced locations in Florida scrub.  Plant Ecol doi:

Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. [S. M. Landry and K. N.
     Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute
     for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Add Native Plants to Your Landscape

by Donna Bollenbach

A few years ago my parents decided that they could no longer keep up with the maintenance of their home. They moved in with my sister, and asked my husband and I if we would like to live in their house. As we were between homes, we accepted. The move from a country home on a two wooded acres to a suburban home on a 1/3-acre lot with a tropical landscape was quite a change for us. We missed our native trees and shrubs and all the wildlife they attracted. The tropical vegetation was pretty, but had very little attraction for the wildlife.  

We joined the Florida Native Plant Society

Shortly after moving, we joined the Suncoast Native Plant Society. We learned that the native plants we took for granted in our rural home attracted more wildlife because they preferred natives for food and shelter. In our rural landscape we had very little grass, but lots of oaks, longleaf pines, beautyberry, firebush, pokeweed, dewberry, holly, sweetbay, Carolina willow, elderberry and other native plants. The wildlife in our yard included nesting owls and hawks, woodpeckers, a variety of song birds, hummingbirds, snakes, frogs, toads, gopher tortoise, an occasional deer or bobcat, and an abundance of bees and butterflies. While we knew we would not be able to attract all these animals to our suburban home, we did want to bring in the birds and butterflies, which seemed to be less attracted to the non-native plants.

As a member of the native plant society for nearly three years now, I also discovered there are two approaches to planting natives: Some people take the all or none approach: They rip up their entire yard, nix the lawn, and replant everything with natives. Unless you can afford to hire someone to do most of the work, the all or none approach is not practical. Furthermore, many people are not willing to give up their bougainvillea, bird-of-paradise and bottle-brush. We had the added consideration that my dad, a veteran gardener, was proud of this lawn and tropical landscape and his feelings would be hurt if we ripped it all up in one day.

We decided to go slow and integrate native plants into the landscape

The second, and more practical approach, is to integrate native plants into your current landscape. This is the method we adopted, and it is still a work in progress. Our first project was a previously landscaped area of front yard near a loquat tree. While not native, the loquat tree provides edible fruit for us and the wildlife, so we decided to keep it. But underneath it was a thick blanket of snake plant and philodendrons, which seemed to have little value for wildlife, except perhaps for Cuban (non-native) lizards to hide.  We pulled up all the plants in the bed, added a little topsoil, and went shopping for native plants.
Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) under the loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica).

Unfortunately, Hillsborough County does not have a native plant nursery, and while the big box stores have a “Florida Friendly” section, very few of the plants are true natives. We purchased our first natives from a native plant nursery in Sarasota County.  Since then we have purchased most of our plants at the SNPS semi-annual native plant sales, and we’ve picked up a few at the native plant auction following our chapter’s meetings.

We wanted plants that were suitable for the location that we were planting them without any added fertilizer or pesticides. One, pesticides are harmful to the birds, butterflies and bees that we were trying to attract. Two, when it rains the chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers wash into the ground and end up in our lakes, rivers and eventually, our drinking water, so they are not good for people either.
Our soil was average, neither moist nor dry, and drained well.  There were areas of shade, part sun and full sun in the bed. In the shaded areas we planted wild coffee. In the areas that received part sun we put in Simpson’s stopper. In the sunny areas we planted firebush, cassia, blue porterweed, blue mist, and a native mimosa. We planted red, white and pink salvia throughout.

Firebush (Hamelia patens)
Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea)

We watered the plants daily for a few weeks to establish them. (If planted in the right place, native plants need little irrigation, but like any potted plant, they do need water when they are first put in the ground or in the case of a drought.) Our plants grew like crazy, especially the blue porterweed. It turns out the porterweed we purchased was not the native species which stays low, but a non-native that grows tall and unwieldy. It did attract lots of butterflies though, and hummingbirds, as did the firebush and the salvia. We allowed the blue porterweed to stay until it started toppling over on the firebush. Then I removed it and replanted it next to a fence line where it is just as happy. A native garden, like any garden, is trial and error.
Monarch on blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).

The whole garden is filled with the color of wings and the buzzing of bees.

Scarlet wasp moth on blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum).

The integrated approach to planting natives works for us. It allows us the time to evaluate and enjoy each new area. And, our native plants did bring in the birds and butterflies. Sometimes the whole garden seems to be filled with the color of wings and the buzzing of bees.

Ground cover, Powderpuff (Mimosa strigillosa).
Our Florida (Mostly) Native Landscape


Posted by Ginny Stibolt.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who Will Be A STAR Chapter?

Everyone in your FNPS chapter is a winner when you encourage Landscape Awards applications submissions from your region. 

Help People Showcase the Beauty of their Florida Native  Landscapes…
That’s why we are members of FNPS, right?

Native plants bring life to this landscape!

Here’s all you do…

  • Check out the categories and criteria for the 2016 Landscape Awards.
  • Select a landscape or two in your area to represent your chapter.
  • Get moving – the deadline is March 4 of this year.

Here’s what is in it for you…

  • STAR Chapter recognition at FNPS Annual Conference in Daytona Beach May 19-21.
  • Prestigious local press release promoting your chapter.
  • Esteemed recognition in FNPS publications and website.

Increase your odds of success…

Print out the first two pages of the Landscape Awards application (back-to-back on the same sheet of paper) and create awareness by distributing to local organizations including:

  • Chapter meetings and events
  • Garden Centers
  • Elementary Schools with Butterfly Gardens
  • Master Gardeners
  • Local business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce
  • Other organizations
    • Notify your City and County Governments
    • Send a  Community Notice for radio announcements

Will you be a STAR Chapter? 

Pass the word to people, schools, communities, and businesses in your area to apply for this year's FNPS native landscape award.  Here's the link:

We look forward to hearing from you.

Renee Stambaugh
FNPS Landscape Awards Coordinator

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Native Plant Conservation Campaign – 2015 Achievements

The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is proud to be one of many native plant societies in the United States affiliated with the Native Plant Conservation Campaign (NPCC).  In 2015, I was honored to attend NPCCs first conference call with representatives from native plant societies across the United States.  It was inspiring to hear the passion in people’s voices as they described their plant conservation projects and endeavors.

The following is a summary of achievements for 2015 that was written by Emily Roberson, the Director of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign.


Juliet Rynear
FNPS Conservation Committee Chair

Florida's scrubs provide many ecosystem services including habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

2015 was an historic year for plant conservation in the United States – and for the Native Plant Conservation Campaign!

The Native Plant Conservation Campaign celebrated several milestones:

  • We held our inaugural NPCC conference call bringing together native plant societies and botanic gardens from throughout the country. We discussed challenges and successes and began to set priorities to improve cooperation and collaboration within the plant conservation community.
  • We welcomed new members to the NPCC advisory council: Nancy Morin of the California Native Plant Society and the Flora of North America, Leah Oliver of NatureServe,  Ileene Anderson of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Jake Sigg of the California Native Plant Society.
  • We revised and updated the NPCC webpage with a new look and new information, particularly regarding the ecosystem services supplied by native plant communities, the inadequacy of staffing and funding for plant science and conservation, and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
  • We launched an NPCC Facebook page. Please like us on Facebook!
  • New organizations joined the Equal Protection for Plants Project, calling for modernizing the federal Endangered Species Act so that it provides the same protections to imperiled plants as it does for animals.

Choose native plants based on their ecosystem services. A water oak (Quercus nigra) provides leaf drop & acorns in the fall.

Preference for Local Native Plant Materials is Now Federal Policy!

Years of advocacy by botanists and conservation advocates has borne fruit. In 2015, historic new initiatives mandated new federal policy that locally appropriate native plants be used in a wide range of land management activities, including restoration, rehabilitation, and pollinator habitat management:

  • The National Seed Strategy establishes a network of local native plant materials research, propagation and storage centers for wildland restoration and rehabilitation following wildfire, mismanagement, or other ecosystem damage
  • The National Pollinator Strategy encourages the development and expansion of pollinator friendly gardens and landscapes, also using locally appropriate plant materials

The goal of these strategies is to manage, restore, and rehabilitate diverse, healthy and resilient plant communities that can withstand climate change and continue to supply the ecosystem services that are essential to life.

***This is the first time that any nation has adopted such a policy or implemented these types of strategies to use local native plants for ecosystem management!***

Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration and Promotion Act of 2016

This bill, developed this year in collaboration with the Plant Conservation Alliance Non-federal Cooperators, would:

  • Codify the preference for locally appropriate native plant materials in federal land management
  • Increase training and hiring of botanists by federal agencies
  • Increase funding for imperiled plant conservation
  • Establish new programs for imperiled plant conservation
  • The NPCC and other organizations are working to generate support for this legislation among native plant science and conservation organizations and identify elected officials to sponsor it.

Endangered Species Act Intact for Now --  thanks to YOU!

The NPCC renewed our longstanding collaboration with the Endangered Species Coalition to help build a unified campaign to defend the federal Endangered Species Act against unprecedented attacks in Congress.

  • With the help of native plant societies, we defeated the attacks on ESA!
  • Native plant conservation groups joined a letter to President Obama asking him to oppose legislation that would weaken the ESA
  • Native plant societies are working with regional ESA defense coalitions, led by the Endangered Species Coalition
  • This work will continue, as we expect the Congressional attacks on the ESA to resume in 2016.

Ecosystem Services Value Must Now be Evaluated in Federal Plans!

In October, after years of effort by the scientific and conservation communities, the White House released a memorandum directing all Federal agencies to incorporate the value of natural infrastructure (aka natural capital or native plant communities) and ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision making. Agencies will develop policies that promote consideration of ecosystem services in planning, investment, and regulatory actions.

Native plant communities are essential to life on planet Earth and must be protected if we are to ensure our future well-being.
Ecosystem services include water purification, storm protection, pollinator habitat, soil fertility, flood control, pest control, and climate change mitigation. For more information, see NPCC News and the NPCC Ecosystem Services page.

Check out additional plant conservation milestones in the NPCC News Archives

Thank you for all your hard work, and we look forward to working with you to build on this in 2016.

Emily  B. Roberson, Ph.D.
Native Plant Conservation Campaign

~ ~ ~

Posted and formatted by Ginny Stibolt

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Giving Tuesday Recap

By Andy Taylor

The Florida Native Plant Society was happy to participate in 2015 #GivingTuesday!  What is #GivingTuesday you ask? It is a global initiative of giving back following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You can read more about #GivingTuesday here.

FNPS participated by using our social media pages to look back on some of the work the Society has done and opportunities to give, either financially or as a volunteer.

You can donate financially to FNPS at this link.

Did you know your employer could double or even triple your donation??  Until December 15, 2015, Double the Donation has made their database free to see if your employer makes donations.  Please check it out at

Sunrise at DeSoto Park by Georgia Wilson.

Some of the programs and projects we looked back at for #GivingTuesday:

FNPS chapter field trips: Georgia Wilson recently took this beautiful photo of the sunrise at Fort DeSoto park.  Most FNPS chapters take field trips, usually monthly. In September, the Pinellas chapter visited Fort DeSoto with an expert from Pinellas County to learn about the environmental restoration projects taking place there.

Website: Did you know gets thousands of hits every month? The most used page is  People visit all over looking for the name of that plant already in their yard or look what would fit best.

Research and Conservation Grants:  FNPS gives thousands of dollars every year in conservation and research grants!  Check out research page for 2016 deadlines for grants.

An FNPS-funded burn. Photo by Taylor Clark.
A gopher tortoise after the burn. Photo by Taylor Clark.
In 2015, one of our Conservation Grant recipients was Oakland Nature Preserve.  They used the grant to fund a specialized burn in a small area.  Photos are of the burn taking place and a post burn gopher tortoise foraging around newly growing wiregrass.  (Photo credit to Taylor Clark).

Education:  FNPS chapters are active in local schools teaching the next generation about native plants! The Florida Today highlighted the work funded by a grant from the Conradina chapter in this article: Butterfly project helps connect Brevard students to nature.

The Coccoloba chapter worked on a comprehensive initiative at Ft. Myers Middle Academy with numerous partners. Here are two photos featuring their work!

Dick Workman at Ft. Myers Middle Academy. FNPS chapter members work on a native plant installation.

Florida Native Plant Month: FNPS runs a comprehensive membership and outreach campaign in October.  This year, FNPS received 45 proclamations including from the state of Florida.  Here is a great photo from the City of Tallahassee proclamation presentation. Thank you to Mayor Andrew Gillum and Commissioner Nancy Miller for making it happen!

Scenes like this happened across the state as counties, cities, and towns declared October to be Native Plant Month. Gov. Scott also declared Native Plant Month for the state of Florida.
Conference: FNPS hosts an annual conference each year! It a great opportunity to learn, grow and network with others who love native plants! The 2015 conference was held in Tallahassee and the 2016 conference will be held in Daytona Beach from May 19-22. You can learn more at the: conference web page.

Conferences have native plant sales.
Conferences have interesting and informative presentations. This is Roger Hammer.
Conferences have socials where you can get to know FNPS Members from other chapters in relaxed settings.
A Palmetto from 1994

Member Benefits: Did you know ONLY FNPS members receive a quarterly magazine?  The Palmetto features everything from scientific articles, the latest tips on landscaping, and news on the Society. Here is a cover of The Palmetto from 1994. For more details on the Palmetto see this profile on our blog.

You can join FNPS as a member and start receiving your copy of The Palmetto on our website.

This is just a small sample of all that FNPS and the chapters do throughout the year! All of these activities could use your financial support OR your time as a volunteer.  We hope you will consider a financial donation or joining as a member of FNPS here.


Andy Taylor is the FNPS Development Director

Edited, formatted, and posted by Ginny Stibolt

Monday, November 2, 2015

Doing some online holiday shopping?

You can help FNPS while you shop and it won't cost you anything!

Use our Amazon links to buy
all your merchandise.
We have listed books here on the blog and on our website dealing with Florida native plants, native ecosystems, and sustainable landscaping with links to Amazon. If you use our links when you purchase these books, FNPS receives a referral fee.

BUT you can also help FNPS when you purchase anything from Amazon. Just use one of our book links to get into Amazon and then search for other items on your list from there. FNPS will receive referral fees for your whole shopping list.

See? Wasn't that easy??

Here are some new or interesting books you many be interested in for yourself or as a gift:

Principles of  Ecological Landscape Design
by Travis Beck
Your Florida Guide to Butterfly
 A guide for the Deep South

by Jaret Daniels
Attracting Hummingbirds and
Butterflies in Tropical Florida

by Roger Hammer

Everglades Wildflowers: A Field Guide to
the Wildflowers, Trees, Shrubs and
Woody Vines of the Florida Keys

by Roger Hammer
Native Florida Plants for
Shady Landscapes

by Craig Huegel
Forgotten Grasslands of the South
by Reed Noss

The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape by Ginny Stibolt (Note: 50% of the royalties will be paid directly to FNPS.) Native Florida Plants by  Robert Haehle & Joan Brookwell Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants 200 Readily Available Species for Homeowners and Professionals
by Gil Nelson
Your donation supports the FNPS Mission

As the year draws to a close, please remember to support your Florida Native Plant Society with an extra donation.
FNPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is FNPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax deductible. To provide funds that will enable us to protect Florida's native plant heritage, please consider joining or renewing at the highest level you can afford.. 

The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.

The Society fulfills this mission through:
  • Support for conservation land acquisition
  • Land management that enhances habitat suitability for native plants
  • Education
  • Public policies that protect our native flora, especially rare species
  • Research on native plant species
  • Encouragement of local landscaping practices and policies that preserve Florida's native pla

Thanks to all our members, a group of hard working and dedicated volunteers who work on behalf of our beautiful state.

Written & posted by Ginny Stibolt

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Walk in the Florida Dry Prairie

A FNPS Education Committee Project

By  Debra L. Klein, Chair with members Richard Brownscombe, Ellen Broderick and Kirsi Johnson


A Walk in the Florida Dry Prairie began serendipitously at the May 2014 FNPS conference while at the Saturday night dinner social.  The Education Committee had an impromptu meeting with Richard Brownscombe, Ellen Broderick, joined by Kellie Westervelt, Cammie Donaldson and myself in attendance.  The idea of filming a field trip was floated with proposals of who should guide and what location.  Cammie suggested that the Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park had asked Roger Hammer to guide a field trip planned for November 1, 2014.  Subsequently, Craig Huegel was also asked to join. Christina Evans of both the Florida Native Plant Society and Friends of KPPSP suggested that we use Jennifer Brown of Into Nature Films to do the video shoot.

Work Plan

With the whole team assembled, the Education Committee produced the following Work Plan with assistance from the Executive Director, Kellie Westervelt, and the Communications Committee:

Project Title:  “Walk with the Wildflowers” at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Project Description:  This project will film the above titled field trip hosted by Friends of the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park on November 1, 2014.  The film will capture well-known naturalist and Society member Roger Hammer as he describes the plants, habitats and history of the preserve.  Mr. Hammer will be accompanied by other Society members, such as Craig Huegel.  The field trip will be filmed by Jennifer Brown of Into Nature Films.

Craig Huegel addressing the field trip attendees
• To educate a broad audience about Florida native plants and Florida native plant communities through the medium of film.
• To promote the Society’s mission, membership and field trips that provide education about Florida’s native plants in their communities and habitats and special places like Kissimmee Prairie.
• To develop a pilot film/prototype to test effectiveness of the medium and distribution in promoting the Society in general and FNPS field trips specifically.  If successful, could launch a film series showcasing a variety of excursions into nature led by knowledgeable and personable FNPS members and/or partners.
• To create an educational and marketing tool as a springboard to develop or expand other FNPS programs (e.g. educational field trips; existing field trips; education and outreach).
• To record for prosperity footage that captures Florida’s unique landscapes as they exist today and document the botanical knowledge, personality and style of some of our most iconic field trip leaders through a series of videos. 

Target Audience: General adult and young people curious about native plants, teachers, local population and visitors to the Prairie, individuals who have never attended a FNPS field trip, CPALMS (a clearinghouse for educators sponsored by the State of Florida).

Distribution: Shoot film at the highest resolution possible to keep all distribution options open.
• FNPS Website (page dedicated to field trips with unique URL).
• All FNPS social media outlets.
• Write blog, Facebook, and other online articles about film with download link or link to embedded video and employ viral strategies to direct traffic (e.g., email contacts, twitter, etc.).
• You Tube:  FNPS can create a You Tube Channel, where this, and any subsequent films can be uploaded and number of hits tracked, e.g. the Knowledge Network.
• Educational Websites such as CPALMS and LEEF
• Possibly PBS/Public Television
• Physical Installations like Visitor Centers (DVD format).

Evaluation Mechanisms: 
• Track number of hits from FNPS Website, YouTube Channel, Twitter statistics on “film” hashtag; etc.
• Track number of teachers using the film through CPALM (need to determine how and what they capture from downloads)
• Include question on how participants learned of FNPS field trips using Survey/Sign-In formats to determine films effectiveness at promoting field trips.
• Develop Field Trip page on FNPS Website with a unique URL so number of hits can be determined.

The Work Plan was a good starting point and guide, although it was modified as needed while filming guide  in order to achieve the best final product.

Filming and Editing

Ultimately, the title was changed to “Walk in the Florida Dry Prairie." Jennifer Brown began  filming on October 31, 2014 - the day before the walk was scheduled to take place.  She interviewed Roger Hammer and Craig Huegel while they scouted out the best areas for viewing wildflowers and other interesting components of the Dry Prairie Ecosystem.

Roger Hammer and filmmaker Jennifer Brown
November 1, 2014 was the official field trip day. It was cold, windy, beautiful, and FUN! Two walks took place - one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The number of people who could attend each walk was determined by the maximum capacity of the swamp buggies that took them into and out of the prairie while providing a rich panoramic view.
Filming the field trip and its participants

After filming was over, the drafts were reviewed by the Education Committee, Shirley Denton and Craig Huegel.  The first draft was presented to the FNPS Board of Directors and Council of Chapters 2015 February Retreat at Archbold Biological Station. The film was finally finished after the Education Committee considered all feedback and comments and made any necessary corrections. We hope you enjoy it! Here's the link again, for good measure: A Walk in the Florida Dry Prairie

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why Florida Native Plant Month?

A New Initiative

As the weather turns nicer and chapter events start increasing, the Florida Native Plant Society is starting a new initiative for the fall this year.  Welcome to the first ever Florida Native Plant Month!   You can find a list of events at

The St. Johns County Proclamation of October being Florida's Native Plant Month 
We are working on a coordinated outreach and membership campaign to tell everyone we can find in the state about the work FNPS does.  As part of this, we are building relationships with local elected officials, media and organizations who may not know much about us.

The proclamation document.
There are currently 36 scheduled proclamations across the state for an event FNPS decided to proceed with in late July.  We have already found people that share a similar mindset as FNPS who were not members.  One of the coolest stories so far is a City Commissioner reaching out to us because he wanted to do a Florida Native Plant Month proclamation.

St Johns BOCC Chairwoman Rachael Bennett said “My backyard, much to the dismay of my HOA, looks very much like a natural Florida environment.” A nice touch from the Sea Oats members in attendance to give a loud round of applause after that line!

In Highlands County, we were able to highlight our friends at Archbold Biological Station’s use of native landscaping that won a 2015 FNPS Landscape Award.

Proclamations are purely ceremonial but allow for promotion of the FNPS mission state and reach the general public on the benefits of native plants.  They are a great tool to be in front of your County Commissioners or your city elected officials to talk about native plants and celebrate the work that your chapter does. You may be surprised how many people keep an eye on what happens at their local government meetings.

Tips to use your proclamations: display at plant sales and chapter meetings, press releases with a picture of your members receiving the proclamation to your local media (especially newspapers with an ‘Around Town’ section).

Florida Native Plant Month aids, including press release templates, digital logos and flyers/posters can be found at here. The organizing committee still has some of the original printed posters that can be sent. Remember there are FNPS membership brochures available for you to have at events.

One of the reasons we were able to have printed materials is the support of our generous sponsors that believed in a first year program. Thank you to Conversa, NAUI Green DiverInitiative, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Please contact FNPS Development Director Andy Taylor or committee chair Donna Bollenbach for details on Florida Native Plant Month.

Florida Native Plant Month sponsors:
We thank our sponsors.

Post by Andy Taylor.