Showing posts from 2012

Celebrate Florida in 2013

Florida has so many wonderful parks and wild places to visit.
Show your support by visiting a bunch of them this year. The parks are working on slimmer budgets these days so your visits not only help them balance the budgets, but greater use also helps them justify their existence to the budget deciders in the state government. You can also support your state parks by volunteering on a regular basis and also by letting your state representatives know how you feel about our wonderful state parks.

Recently on Facebook, John M. sent us a message:

"Next week two of us from Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be traveling from Birmingham to Lee, FL, then to Florida Caverns State Park, and finally to the Pensacola area to participate in a sarracenia rescue. We are interested in visiting some botanically interesting areas along the way. Might you have any suggestions?
Kind thanks,

Instead of trying to answer the question myself, I posted it to the FNPS page to see what our fans had t…

Christmas in Florida


 Christmas in Florida
    by Jim Moore

The visitor sadly shook his head
As he basked in the tropical sun;
"Call this Christmas?" to me he said,
"Well, not where I come from."

"Christmas needs snow and ice and cold,
And the sound of the sleighbells ring.
As for me, I can't be sold
On weather that feels like Spring.

Santa Claus in a bathing suit?
No sir, it just isn't right.
Cranberry sauce and tropical fruit
I think it's an awful fright."

"My poor misguided friend," I said,
"Your lament does not ring true.
You're mixed up by the things you read
From a myth you take your clue.

For no snow fell on Bethlehem
On the night the star first shone.
There was no blizzard nor howling gale
That swept with a shriek and a moan.

The breezes were soft and what is more,
The night that the Christ Child came,
Hibiscus bloomed near the stable door
As Mary murmured His name.

Bougainvillea of a violet hue
Arched in a graceful bower,
Poinsettias wet with the midnight dew

When you plant a tree, you believe in the future.

On the Winter Solstice, 12/21/12 at 6:12am EST, the Mayan calendar stops. I can't decipher the calendar, so I personally don't have any way to verify that this assessment is true, but this impending date has engendered many interesting responses. As an example, see the dire weather forecast for this week, which has gone viral on the Internet.

So..., we'll see what happens tomorrow.

But if you believe in the future, you'll plant a tree before the day ends because… When you plant a tree, you believe in the future.
If we all plant at least one tree today, maybe our collective efforts will prevent the world from ending. Of course, I'd highly recommend a native tree from local stock. So go to the FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) consumer website, to find the nearest FANN member with the trees you'd like to plant.

Plant some more trees on Florida's Arbor Day, which is the third Friday in January. This year it's 1/18/…

Happy Holly-days

By Barbara Jackson

In search of a Florida native holiday tree, I found the perfect one: Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria). The form of this evergreen small tree, or large shrub, is upright, with multiple stems, making it perfect for holiday ornaments. I purchased one around 6 feet tall, and will plant it in my landscape after December.

The female Yaupon Holly produces small red berries in the fall and winter, if a male specimen is close by. The fruit is attractive to birds and other small mammals when natural food supplies are dwindling. It also produces dense clusters of tiny white flowers in the spring, and attracts pollinators. This holly is fairly fast growing, highly salt tolerant, and is also noted for its high hurricane wind resistance. It will reach a height between 8 and 25 feet tall and spread 5 to 15 feet. It can be planted as a single specimen, or kept in pruned hedges. Yaupon Holly is highly drought tolerant once established and will grow in full sun or part shade. It can b…

Family Profile: The Cactaceae

By Jennifer Hoffman and Chelsea Warner

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Plant Taxonomy students at Jacksonville University. FNPS blogger Laurie Sheldon assisted the students with their initial drafts, providing suggestions for editing and content development.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae

Leaves: typically reduced as spines
Fruit: berry
Flower: zygomorphic or actinomorphic, with tepals rather than sepals and petals

The cactus plant family or Cactaceae is specially adapted to survive in hot and dry conditions. For example, many species have sharp spines to protect them from predation, direct rain runoff towards their root system, and reduce internal heat loading by reflecting light away from the plant (Fig. 1). In addition, the dermal cells are thick-walled and lined with a cuticle or waxy layer. The cuticle helps the plant retain water and to reflec…

Good Plants Gone Bad

By Shirley Denton

We bemoan the prevalence of invasive species in our landscapes. From cogon grass to Brazilian pepper and Japanese honeysuckle, we don’t want them. I personally fight with natal grass, guinnea grass, skunk vine, and lantana, all of which insist on coming into my landscape.

But I love species such as water lily and red mangrove – and sometimes us humans have spread them beyond their native ranges. I thought it might be instructive to see how some of them have behaved in their new homes.

Global Invasive Species database

I just scanned through 3065 records in the Global Invasive Species database looking for Florida natives that can misbehave when moved into areas where they don’t grow natively. I found a dozen of them, but since I was scanning through the list, there could be more. And this is just the species that are considered to be problems in the areas where they are introduced. Some of these I knew about. Others were surprises. A couple, I didn’t even know grew in…

Apply for Grants and Awards

Do you have a pet native plant project that needs recognition or some funds to get it off the ground? Now is the time to apply...
Native Plant grants FNPS is inviting researchers on Florida native plants to apply for small grants to support their research.  Research grant applications are granted on the basis of importance to the protection, preservation and restoration of Florida native plants and subject to funds availability.  The deadline for the 2013 grant cycle is March 1, 2013.  For more information on the grants and submittal process, please view and download the award application.  For examples of past grant recipients, please see:

Native Plant Conservation Grants
FNPS invites you to apply for a Florida Native Plant Conservation Grant. When funding is available, grants will be awarded to applied plant conservation projects that will promote the preservation, conservation, restoration, and/or protection of Florida’s rare or imperiled native p…

Plant Profile: Populus deltoides, Eastern Cottonwood

By Jeffrey Petterson and Ashley Knight

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Plant Taxonomy students at Jacksonville University.

Family: Salicaceae (Willow)

Populus deltoides (figure 1) is a North American hardwood tree. It is usually found by rivers or mud-banks and in canyons or valleys. They specifically like the swamps of Florida’s panhandle.

Cottonwood bark is yellow green in the adolescent stage and gray when mature. The alternating leaves are large and triangular with toothed edges (figure 2). The tree is dioecious or having male flowers on separate trees from those that have female flowers. The flowers bloom in the spring with purple male catkins and green female catkins. The ‘male’ cottonwood produces pollen, which is carried by the wind to fertilize the ‘female’ cottonwood. The ‘female’ trees have a cottony seed inside the capsule that matures in summer. These seeds create cotton- like clouds that are helpful for wind-disper…

A Post-Thanksgiving Post

By Laurie Sheldon

I’m a firm believer in themes - both as literary devices and design tools. Themes provide one’s ideas with structure and organization, and assist in the creation of meaning, whether expressed linguistically or artistically. That said, when I realized that this blog was to be posted on Thanksgiving, I felt the need to write something relative to the holiday - a thematic piece. Naturally, I put way too much time into finding a topic that could be both compelling and informative.


First I considered exploring the connection between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans as a means of transitioning into some deeper statement about natives in general. A day of research later and I tossed that idea out the window. Truth be known, the REAL Thanksgiving story isn’t half as lighthearted as the one we’re taught in grade school, and, quite frankly, I’d rather not be “Debbie Downer” on a national holiday.

The advice I was given as a design student - “K.I.S.S.” (keep i…

Shoreline Restoration and Habitat Creation in Palm Beach County

The Snook Island project, a public/private restoration in Palm Beach County, was dedicated on November 2, 2012.  This project includes, planting mangroves, spartina grass, and other native plants on the shoreline and on islands and jetties built with rubble from the old drawbridge here. Some of it had been left in place after the new bridge was built and had been used for many years as a fishing pier, but it had become unsafe. So instead of transporting the spoils to a landfill, the cement blocks were used to create the substrate for the plantings and as an artificial reef for the new fishing pier. Other niceties included here are the benches, a boardwalk along the mangroves for the birdwatchers, a launch platform for kayaks and canoes, water taxi docking stations, and reconfigured parking for the trailers. So now instead of a rotting cement bridge and an eroding shoreline of the public golf course, the local residents have a beautiful recreational resource and cleaner water in the La…

Plant Profile: White Mangrove, Laguncularia racemosa

By Kelsey Cooper, Rebecah Horowitz, and Katie Kara

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Laguncularia Specific epithet: racemosa

Laguncularia racemosa, or white mangrove, is a sprawling, woody shrub found in coastal habitats along West Africa, Northern South America, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and Florida. It can grow to be approximately 40 feet in height. In Florida, it is known to occur along the coast from Volusia County, around the southern tip of the state and northward on the Gulf side to Levy County. Laguncularia is a monotypic genus.

White mangroves' paddle-like leaves are oppositely arranged along the stem (figure 2). They have extra-floral nectaries -  glands at the leaf base that produce a sugary substance that wasps and ants like to eat. In turn, it is believed that these in…

Veterans Day, Flowers, and Inspiration

By Laurie Sheldon

The Eleventh Hour
A popular expression to indicate something done at the last minute (like when I wrote this blog), the root of this phrase dates back to November 11, 1918, when an armistice (an agreement to cease hostilities) between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, signifying the end of "the war to end all wars" - World War I. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the date as "Armistice Day", a day of parades, pride in our country's heroic servicemen, gratitude for its victory, and silent reflection at 11am. In 1938 it became a legal holiday, and in 1954 it was re-named "Veterans Day" to extend the holiday's respect to those who served in World War 2. Members of the British Commonwealth of Nationsnow refer to the date as "Rememberance Day," and both France and Serbia continue to observe the date as it was originally named.

A …