Showing posts from 2011

Florida Native Landscaping Class Starting 1/11/12 at Ft. Pierce

The Mexican firebush, Gumbo-limbo tree, and stokes aster may not seem similar but all three plants are featured in either of two botanic gardens situated at the University of Florida/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. The plants are native to Florida, require a minimum amount of care and were carefully selected and strategically placed for high aesthetic value.

More than 100 plants will be studied in “Florida Native Landscaping,” an upper division environmental horticulture course, the plants may be used in a wide array of landscapes. Offered to degree-seeking and non-degree seeking students at the UF Fort Pierce campus, many industry professionals, nursery owners and state employees have completed the course.

Registration for “Florida Native Landscaping” is taking place now for spring semester 2012. The course will begin Wednesday, Jan. 11, 3:30 until 6:30 p.m., and will continue each Wednesday through mid-April. “Florida Native Landscaping” is offer…


A post by Roger L. Hammer

Most everyone is familiar with morning-glories in the genus Ipomoea, and certainly everyone reading this has even eaten Ipomoea batatas, the common sweet potato.

The Morning-Glory Family (Convolvulaceae) is well-represented in Florida, with 67 species in fourteen genera. Of those, twenty-four species are naturalized exotics, and four species are endemic to Florida, found nowhere else. The genus Ipomoea is the largest in the family, with twenty-five species and one naturally-occurring hybrid of two native species. Exactly half of the species (13) in Florida are native.

Only two species are rare enough to be listed as endangered by the state of Florida, and these are the rockland morning-glory (Ipomoea tenuissima) and man-in-the-ground (Ipomoea microdactyla). Both are on the northern extreme of their natural range in Florida, and both are restricted to pine rockland habitat in southern Miami-Dade County.

All species of morning-glories are pretty in their own …

Plant Profile: Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student author: Rebecca Clark

Common Name: Crossvine

Scientific Name: Bignonia capreloata L.

Bignonia capreolata or crossvine belongs to the Bignonia family and is found throughout the central to northern parts of the state. It is a woody, semi-evergreen vine, or liana, that can grow to be as long as 50 feet, using tendrils to attach to surfaces. Crossvine is found in forests, swamps, hammocks, fencerows, and limestone escarpments.

Crossvine is a relatively low-maintenance plant. The plant has low to medium water needs and is drought tolerant. It does do well in moist, well-drained, and acidic soil but can tolerate other soil conditions. The best flowering occurs in full sun even though the plant can grow in semi-shady conditions.

The leaves are opposite and four to six inches long with two leaflets per leaf. In summer, they are dark green and reddish purple in the winter.


Learning About Natives

By Peg Lindsay, secretary FNPS

I moved to Florida about 10 years ago, from the state of Delaware.  The summer climate there is much the same as in Florida – hot and humid.  So I expected that the familiar garden plants I knew and loved would grow just as well here in Florida.  I went through several bottles of anti-fungal chemicals before I decided that, although I could coax those zinnias to bloom, gardening with chemicals was not for me, nor good for the environment.  Florida was lush and green before these chemicals could be commercially produced.  In fact, the name La Florida, given to this land by Ponce de Leon in 1513, refers to the amazing abundance and diversity of the wild flowering plants he observed here.  With the encouragement of my friends, I decided to try some Florida wildflowers in my garden.

The first native wildflower I added to my garden was Indian Blanketflower, Gaillardia pulchella.  This has a beautiful, red-orange-yellow daisy-like flower, blooms all summer and…

A look at Drosera

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student author: Keenan Carpenter.

Allow me to introduce you to an odd little group of plants of the genus Drosera, otherwise known as the Sundews. The Sundews belong to larger family group Droseraceae which encompasses the rest of the carnivorous/insectivorous plants. There are five species of Sundew found here in Florida: The Pink Sundew (Drosera capillaris), the threatened Spoon-Leaved or Water Sundew (Drosera intermedia), the Dwarf Sundew (Drosera brevifolia) , the Thread-Leaved Sundew (Drosera filiformis), and Tracy’s Sundew (Drosera tracyi).

Sundews are for the most part swamp and bog plants that have managed to work their way into a niche in their environments that not many other plants have been able to inhabit. The members of Drosera make their homes in moist, acidic, and nutrient deficient soil. However, the Sundews have developed a strategy to get the nutrients they n…

Wildflowers (and Persistence) in Jacksonville

By Barbara Jackson, President, FNPS, Ixia Chapter

“Nothing Is Ever Easy at the Shipyards”

This statement, from an environmental consultant in Jacksonville, has proven to be completely true. He should know. He has been involved in the Shipyards for over fifteen years, advising the City of Jacksonville and others about this almost forty-acre site. Luckily for our Ixia Chapter, he gave us free advice as we attempted to plant a wildflower garden at the Shipyards.

The Shipyards is in downtown Jacksonville and is situated on the St. Johns River. It was a working shipyard from the 1850’s until 1992. After its closure, two different companies purchased the land with the idea of development, only to be defeated by the economy. It was then claimed by the City of Jacksonville. The land sat idle for years, used for downtown event over-flow parking, surrounded by a chain link fence and full of weeds and debris. Just by chance last year, I saw an article in the local newspaper quoting the mayor, wh…

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) Profile

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student author: Tayler Massey

The trumpet vine, otherwise known as Campsis radicans, is a plant you’ve probably seen many times and don’t even realize you’ve seen it! The trumpet vine is a native plant to Florida, but can also be found in many areas throughout the eastern, southeastern, and southwestern parts of the United States.

The plant can survive at any time during the year, if it is given the right conditions to grow. The trumpet vine grows best in coarse to medium grain soils with neutral pH levels. So long as the soil remains moist, the trumpet vine does not need an abundance of water, but it does need a great deal of sunlight. It is best if planted in the open rather than in the shade.

Once established the trumpet vine is very tolerant to fluctuations in heat, cold, and rainfall. They can grow very rapidly and if not managed, can climb up and over other plants and str…

Orange Lake Native and Exotic Flora Activities

By Buford C. Pruitt, Jr.
In the summer of 2010, I approached Florida environmental agency staff at a Little Orange Creek Working Group meeting about volunteering to cut down and poison several species of invasive exotic trees (paper mulberry, Chinaberry, and Chinese tallow) that had colonized four spoil islands within the marshland in McIntosh Cove on the west side of Orange Lake. I also wanted to transplant from my yard some volunteer seedlings of black cherry, sweetgum, live oak, sugarberry, and cabbage palm in order to provide competition to discourage the three Chinese exotics from re-invading. I also wanted to provide some forested habitat on the islands that might possibly be used for nesting by the lake’s water birds. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff member Bruce Jaggers responded that the spoil islands were a byproduct of FWC’s effort to scrape down muck sediments from an adjacent area of Orange Lake. This would expose sandier sediments that would provid…

The Green Swamp - Should Hunting Be Allowed Here?

Editor's note: Thanks to the dedicated and ongoing efforts of people like Lorraine, the Hampton Tract is currently being recommended for no expanded hunting. However, there is one more public meeting where comments will be heard on Hampton and three other tracts. This post is a tribute to the fact that your voice counts. The following two links will take you to the SWFWMD's page on the hunting evaluation process and the specifics for the next meeting:

The next meeting is set for December 5th:

The Green Swamp, a huge Southwest Florida Water Management District property holding purchased over time for aquifer recharge and conservation is probably the second most important property collection in the state after the Everglades.  The Hampton tract is one of the newer acquisitions, not many of you know it, but my husband Don and I got to know a bit of it and to experience th…

Reflections on the "Real Florida"

A letter from Steve Woodmansee, FNPS president

FNPS members recently received my letter describing childhood adventures in South Florida's outdoors – memorable experiences made possible thanks to preserved lands and my parents' initiative. I dug up some photos of these family trips to share with you. The quality of these photos is not the greatest - they were scanned from prints - but many readers probably have photos like these (maybe even older!) and can relate to a time without cell phones, the Internet or cable television.

At this time of year, we are grateful for our families, and also organizations like FNPS, which works every day, through grassroots volunteer members, to preserve, conserve and restore the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. As I said in my letter, my childhood experiences led me to being part of FNPS, because I believed in the mission before I even knew there was an FNPS.

You know FNPS, our mission and the many great things we do, de…

Plant Profile: The Sensitive Fern-Bead Fern

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Jennifer Hoffman and Marie Chrest

Common name: Sensitive Fern- Bead Fern
Scientific name: Onoclea sensibilis
Classification:  Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom:  Tracheobionta
Division:  Pteridophyta
Class:  Filicopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Onoclea L.
Species: Onoclea sensibilis L.

Onoclea sensibilis’s name is derived from the Greek root words “ono,” meaning “vessel” and “kleio” denoting “to close,” referring to the ferns reproductive gametes present in the sealed vessel-like beaded pinnacles (Figure 1). The second half of the ferns name sensibilis which is Latin for “sensitive,” is from the plants vulnerability to quickly wither and die at the first sight of frost in the winter. Onoclea sensibilis is found in the southern states of the US such as Florida. The fern is typically associated with swamps, marshes, floodplains, and dit…

Fragrant Ladies’-Tresses

 A post by Roger L. Hammer

There are eighteen species of Spiranthes native to Florida, along with two varieties of one species, and three intergeneric, naturally-occurring hybrids involving five different species. All are known as ladies’-tresses because of the spiraling habit of the flowers up the stem, which superficially resembles braided hair.

One of my favorite members of this genus is the fragrant ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes odorata) and this past Wednesday (11/16) I encountered a flowering colony of them in the flooded prairies of Everglades National Park, where I’ve seen them each Fall over the past two decades. The species name, odorata, refers to the intensely fragrant flowers, so it’s very worthwhile to get your feet wet to get a whiff of the perfume that emanates from the flowers. It’s quite intoxicating.

Although very localized, this native orchid is frequent throughout much of Florida, except the Florida Keys. Look for it in wet prairies, along river banks, edges of p…

Searching for Florida's Indian Pipes


John Freudenstein and Mike Broe from the Ohio State University Herbarium asked us to pass along this research request:

We will be visiting Florida in mid-December on a plant collecting fieldtrip. We are specifically looking for Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora), the white form and particularly the pink to dark-pink forms. This research is part of a worldwide study on the monotropoid group of plants. If any of your members could supply information on locations where we might find these we would be most grateful! We have found that local knowledge can be crucial to successfully locating monotropoids. You can contact us at

Indian pipes and their close relatives (pinesap, pinedrops, pigmypipes, etc.) are fascinating because they completely lack chlorophyll: this means they depend on other plants for food. It used to be thought that they were parasites, but in fact they are part of a three-way symbiosis: an underground fungus forms a bridge between the roots of the In…

Enticing new members with dinosaurs and smiles

The Naples FNPS Chapter knows how to attract new members! This account is by Karyn Allman, membership chair, and Philip Tadman, The Coontie Man.

Last year the Naples Chapter, with the gracious help of native plant grower and FNPS member Philip Tadman, gave away small nursery trays with 11 native seedlings as an incentive to join the plant society at an Earth Day festival. During the event, we gained three new members, and all three greatly enjoyed their new native plants.

As the new 2011-2012 season of the Naples Chapter rolled into action in September, so did Philip. This time around, Phillip had the help of Mr. K.C. Klein from Duck Lake Trees and Shrubs, and they were able to gather twenty-five 3-gallon Zamia pumila (coontie) and have them ready for the two day Collier County Yard and Garden show in Immokalee in October. Prior to the event, Harriet Heithaus of the Naples Daily News interviewed Philip and placed an informative article in the local newspaper. The article not only let…