The purpose of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. This blog presents ideas and information to further the cause of Florida's native plants and ecosystems.
Up in Wakulla County, Arbor Day 2011 was a big success due to the efforts of two groups who joined forces so that they could make a substantial contribution to the goals of the event. The Sarracenia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Iris Garden Club of Wakulla County gave away over 500 trees in one-gallon pots this year, despite the really cold weather.
Their collaboration began four years ago when they realized that the little bareroot twigs given away as part of their community's Arbor Day celebration were too small to stand a good chance of even surviving the car trip home, let alone a chance of being planted and growing into a beautiful tree.
So the two groups made a commitment to collaborate that worked so well they have never looked back. The Garden Club put up the funds to buy 900 bareroot native trees from the local AFNN member nursery, Superior Trees. They bought enough potting soil to fill 900 gallon-sized pots. A local nursery operation, Just Fruits Nursery, owned by Ted and Brandy Cowley-Gilbert, who are members in both clubs, kindly offered space to do the potting, so the two groups met there to really get down and dirty! Once the trees were potted, the nursery also kept them under irrigation for the next 11 months. When Arbor Day came around the next January, some of the faster growing varieties of trees were four feet tall! Those trees were going to go out and get planted!
The trees were carefully chosen to meet the needs of a variety of settings, because Wakulla county includes habitats near rivers, wetlands, high sandy pinelands and coastal terrain. They try to stick to stick to plants that are vouchered as being native to their county, an important effort. Among the trees they gave away this year: redbuds, Ashe magnolia, bald cypress, blackgum, chichasaw plum, chinquapin, dogwood (Cornus florida), native persimmon, red maple, sycamore, white and shumard oaks, southern red cedar and sabal palmettos, an impressive list.
The collaboration continues on Arbor Day, when both groups are present to help people choose the right tree for their own yard. A bake sale and raffles are held, and toward the end of the day extra trees are available for purchase for a $3 per tree donation toward Arbor Day expenses. This year these combined funds brought in enough to pay for next year's trees, already slated for potting soon.
Great story of thinking outside the box and forging new bonds to make change for good!
Thanks to Jeannie Brodhead, Sarracenia Chapter Rep, for her help with this post.
Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) Lovely fall color, food for pollinators and migrating birds
Other Names: Dwarf Mulberry, Beautybush, Filigree, French Mulberry, Beautyberry
Introduction: Purple berries clinging around stems with bright green foliage make Callicarpa americana stand out from late summer to winter. It is easy to see how beautyberry got its common name. Don’t let its looks fool you though; Callicarpa is more than just eye candy. Callicarpa americana is useful medicinally and as food for wildlife and people. American Beautyberry is not fussy about location, soil or light requirements. This tough plant is an American Beauty in every sense of the word. Its name comes from Greek: Kalli, means beautiful; Karpos means fruit.
Historic Medicinal Uses:
Native Americans had many uses for beautberry, both internally and externally. According to Taylor (1940), Native Americans used beautyberry externally as a steam and topical application. All parts of the pla…
Australian pines seem to be everywhere in the coastal regions in the bottom half of Florida. Their name is deceiving because, while they are native to Australia, they aren't pines or even conifers. They are flowering trees with separate male and female flowers, and what look like needles are really green twiglets with close-set circles of tiny leaves that drop at the first sign of a drought. In the photo to the right, the light-colored lines are where leaves where once attached. Most of the photosynthesis takes place in the twiglets.
There are three species of Australian pine (Casuarina spp) that have been imported into Florida for various purposes. They were widely planted to soak up the "swamps" in Florida, stabilize canals, and hold beaches. Unfortunately for Florida's ecosystems, the "pines" accomplished all this and more--like seeding prolifically, growing five feet or more per year, producing dense shade, and emitting an herbicide that kills most a…
These perky natives have numerous and endearing charms. Authors and growers disagree about the proper Latin name, but they are in complete agreement that more people should use more coonties in their landscapes.
What's to like?
Coonties are spritely and graceful in their form, tough as the dickens, bright green all year, and host plant for the beautiful blue atala
hairstreak butterfly. In fact, coonties are the only larval food for atalas. You can use them as specimen or accent plants, mass them together for ground cover, or use them in a line as a border. And to top that off, they have an interesting sex life. A subject we hardly ever get to talk about around here. More on that later. See more in Roger Hammer's 1995 Palmetto article, The Coontie and the Atala Hairstreak.
Slow growers, coonties are more expensive to buy than some other natives by relative size, but don't let that put you off. They are well worth the investment. They can be planted in full sun or fairly …