Friday, November 9, 2018

Why do we care so much about Warea?

Clasping Warea is a Federally-Endangered plant. Our mission is to protect the native plants of Florida, and there are no plants that need protection more than ones that are on the endangered species list! 

We have been working since 2012 on monitoring Clasping Warea on the Warea Tract of the Seminole State Forest. Tarflower Chapter leads volunteer outings and hikes in this valuable property that is otherwise closed to the public. 

We also monitor three other sites with Clasping Warea within the rapidly developing Central Florida area. We have decided to take action to protect the largest population of Clasping Warea in Florida. It’s unprotected and could be developed at any time. 

We’re calling this place “The Warea Area” because there’s so much of it, plus, it rolls right off the tongue. View our photo album of this beautiful piece of real Florida here

Help us save this endangered species by donating today.

Friday, October 26, 2018

What it's like to adopt a highway by Janina Shoemaker of Sea Rocket Chapter

Sea Rocket Chapter, North Brevard County, held our first Adopt-a-Highway litter pickup with a crew of four, Saturday, October 20, along Columbia Blvd (a major 4-lane to the Space Coast) in 77-80 F weather, (warm but not too humid). We collected a ton (*) of paper, plastic, and some metal trash in under 3 hours, totaling 12 volunteer hours for the society. 
Litter Crew: David Humphrey, Janina Shoemaker, and Jim Robey
The team considered this a trial learning experience and found that a single sweep of four abreast was more efficient than two pair working both shoulders. We discovered a gopher tortoise meandering along the highway, but also found the remains of a deer and an armadillo, stripped to the bones. Our area of pickup was both sides of the road, in some places about ten feet wide, and in others, a wider expanse past culverts up to fence lines. We noted many native species growing, healthy green-ways, preventing run-off. (The median is NOT included, DOT rules.) 
Our next litter pickup will be scheduled for February, and we encourage members and friends to join us. We feel this project is a good way to present our name to the public, to be visible in community service. We also attend various festivals with literature and native plants and continue to grow our membership. If you live in the area or are willing to travel to Titusville to volunteer, contact (*) an exaggeration 
Placing our "loot" under the highway sign for DOT pickup.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gardening with Natives Open Forum by Carolyn Gregsak

The Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society presented its first meeting of the season on October 9 at Lemon Bay Park in Englewood. More than two-dozen guests were in attendance at the Open Forum, a framework for an interactive, question/discussion session, between the audience and 4-person panel, concerning gardening with native plants in this area of SW Florida. Several first-time attendees were present and we look forward to seeing them throughout the coming season.

   The panel consisted of four members of the Mangrove Chapter: Bonnie Moore, Linda Wilson, Al Squires, and Gail Finney. Several questions, submitted prior to the meeting, brought the audience and panel into the full spirit of discussion and debate. Some of the most enthusiastic debate revolved around planting non-native plants with native plants, soil composition, and soil amendments.

   Meeting adjournment at eight o’clock seemed to arrive too soon, and many guests lingered to share their comments. Members are looking forward to the Open Forum becoming an annual tradition, starting off each new season at the October meetings.

Bank with Natives in Steinhatchee by Jaya Milam

Big Bend Chapter completed a native plant conversion for our local Citizens State Bank.  We transformed the garden beds from all non-native to all native! The bank's managers were delighted with the results. They were very pleased to know that there is very low maintenance and the garden beds will shine with natural beauty most of the year!

Through this project we were able to share much information regarding the quality and sustainability of going native with many in our community that go past our beautiful Native transformations and get to enjoy the natural beauty.  We were provided the privilege to put our Big Bend Chapter Sign discretely in the corner of each flower bed to encourage folks to consider native when gardening at their home or business facility.  We have received numerous compliments and commendations from many customers and folks just passing by....Go Native, it’s contagious!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Field Trip to Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation Institute

On January 20 2018 several members of the Paynes Prairie chapter traveled to Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation Institute (ABRPI). Chase Pirtle, the animal care specialist and habitat manager met us at the gate. Chase is an authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent and an instructor and private land manager for the Eastern Diamondback Conservation Foundation. He also holds a FWC venomous license.

We drove in to the Headquarters and met Maggie Curtis, also a biologist at Ashton who assists Chase in the management of the facility. The headquarters also serves as an incubator, nursery and cold weather shelter for the tortoise collection. In large tubs and kiddy pools filled with pine needles and turkey oak leaves are several Radiated Tortoises (native to Madagascar) and a Yellow Footed Tortoise (native to South America). 

Radiated Tortoises are critically endangered in Madagascar and these are the descendants of individuals collected for the illegal pet trade and confiscated at airports. Chase told us
that they move the smaller tortoises into the building when the weather turns really cold. 

They keep the lights off and the temperature cool to simulate winter so the tortoises behave normally as if they were outside. It seems to work since they were all hunkered down and not trying to escape. We toured the nursery room in which several bins hold young Radiated Tortoises of different sizes. They remain in the nursery from hatching until they reach 150-200 grams and are too big to become lunch for crows and
other predators outside. 

After reaching this threshold they get to live outside, unless the weather gets too cold. There is also a small incubator room where Leopard Tortoise eggs were hatching even as we watched. While the females will lay eggs outside, the hatching rate is very low and the few that do hatch rarely survive. Hatching and survival is much improved by incubating the eggs. 

From the incubator they go to the nursery and then outside. Sadly, there isn’t enough intact habitat on Madagascar to return them to the wild so at some point in time they may be exchanged with other certified organizations elsewhere. Just outside are the outdoor holding pens which are delineated by 2 foot tall fencing. They are mostly open with some natural vegetation. Tucked away in corner shelters are large adults (Radiated Tortoises, Leopard Tortoises and one Bolivian Red Footed tortoise) who can tolerate the temperatures. FYI, Red Foot tortoises like to have the rear of their carapaces scratched and Radiated tortoises like to have their bellies rubbed. One female followed Chase through the paddock after a nice belly rub.

We had a quick look at the raised garden in which Chase grows vegetable for the tortoises. Some beds are in very large basins and some were in refrigerators which Chase acquired for free and hollowed out and drilled holes in to make a perfectly fine raised bed for the vegetables. He intends to plant native fruiting plants around the perimeter of the garden and the holding pens to supplement their diets. 

We then piled into vehicles to tour the Preserve property as well as some of the adjacent property. Naturally it is all longleaf pine and scrub oak sand hill ecology. Chase has negotiated with some of the surrounding property owners to purchase the land or have the land designated as conservation easements. Ultimately he is trying to create a natural corridor from Goethe State Park to Watermelon Pond Wildlife Management Area.

There are roughly 500 gopher tortoises on the Preserve and the adjacent properties, all of which were hunkered down waiting until the temperatures rise to a reasonable 70° or so. If temperatures remain cold for extended periods the tortoises go into a hibernation-like stage called brumation. Gopher Tortoises are a keystone species and at least 411 other animal and insect species are known to use their burrows. Chase is fortunate to live in one of the facilities on the property. There is another facility for long term volunteers and researchers.

After our trip through the woods we returned to headquarters and took a quick look at a drift fence which is used for catching reptiles for collecting census data. This was an excellent trip. ABPRI does great work.

Ashton Biological Research and Preservation Institute, inc. (ABPRI) is a private, non-profit conservation area and research facility encompassing nearly 100 acres in North Central Florida. Information and a mission statement can be found at: 

Tours can be arranged and donations are always welcome.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Who Doesn't Love a Cocoplum?

Who Doesn't Love a Cocoplum?
By Ellen Broderick

Photo by Ellen Broderick

Easy to grow here in Martin County with dark purply-blue plums, occasionally white, or unusually pink. Wildlife hide and feast among the offerings of Chrysobalanus icaco. In the planned landscape cocoplum's full leafy branches work well as screens, or they can be shaped within garden islands, and even survive buzz-cuts in parking lots. Naturally they grow in South Florida swamps, moist forests, coastal beaches and thickets. Post hurricane their naked branches re-bud and grow new leaves without much fuss. 

If you've been around for a while you might know us as the "Cocoplum Chapter." The name was always Martin County but somewhere along the way we picked up the Cocoplum tag. For clarity and with a nod to the Martin County difference we've reclaimed our true name. But it's no big deal if you want to keep calling us cocoplums. They are, after all, very sweet in so many ways.

Photo by Linda Eastman

Photo by Linda Eastman

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

FNPS Citrus Chapter Member Honored

The Citrus Chapter awarded chapter member, Barbara McCormick the 2018 Green Palmetto Award for Education at our Sept. 4th chapter meeting. The nomination letter was read to the audience. The chapter also gave Barbara a gift card as a thank you for all she does for our chapter along with a bouquet of native bloomers. Barbara's nomination letter is below.

March 14, 2018
Citrus County Florida

Barbara McCormick, a native Floridian, veteran and former Army officer, joined the
Citrus Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society in 2003. She brought with her many
years of experience as a Master Gardener and horticulturalist at Walt Disney World’s
University of Disney Garden program while attending Valencia College.

In 2002 Barbara started her own nursery named Nature by Design which specialized in
native plants as well as Florida friendly plants. Unfortunately the nursery was
destroyed by the back to back storms of 2004. Since then, while working as a private
consultant for the landscape planning and maintenance of a small number of very
exclusive Citrus County estates, she has dedicated herself to the expansion of knowledge
and appreciation of Native Plants in Citrus County.

She volunteers at the Extension Service educating both adults and youth about Florida-
friendly landscapes. In 2016 she was awarded a grant from Keep Citrus County
Beautiful (KCCB) to put in a native plant demonstration landscape at the Extension
office in Lecanto, FL. It is one of the small jewels in Citrus County and would not have
happened without Barbara’s dedication to the planning, layout, planting and
continuing maintenance to have this showplace for others to enjoy. She also volunteers
at a monthly plant clinic at one of the big box stores and is active in the Chazzahowitzka
River Keepers dedicated to the restoration and care of the River. She also co-founded a
4-H youth group with a focus on environmental education through experimental
learning and she created a Native Plant Spotlight program where she shares
information at the monthly Master Gardener meetings.

One of her biggest contributions to the world of Native Plants is her monthly program
called “Barbara’s Bits” prior to each Citrus Chapter meeting. She packs over an hour’s
worth of information into her thirty minute interactive program each month to the
thrill of the twenty-five to thirty Native Plant enthusiasts, both members and guests,
who come early to the Chapter meeting for Barbara’s informative program. This is a
major draw for the Citrus Chapter and she continually receives rave reviews for her

Her knowledge about plants in general is spectacular and her willingness to share her
knowledge is immeasurable.

The Citrus Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society proudly and enthusiastically
nominates Barbara McCormick for the annual Green Palmetto Award for Education.

Gail Taylor, President - Citrus Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society