Saturday, February 25, 2012

10 Ways to Observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Florida

February 26 – March 3, 2012

What is an “Invasive Species”? It is a non-native plant, animal, fungus or other organism whose arrival causes or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm, or harm to human health. These “invaders” are aggressive species which grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major problems to the new areas in which they thrive.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week includes activities, briefings, workshops and events across the United States. It is focused on creating solutions to address invasive species prevention, detection, monitoring, control, and management issues at local, state, tribal, regional, national and international scales. Check for more details and further developments!  
10 Ways to Observe NISAW in Florida

Research invasive species.
1.   Do Some Research: You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home. Get on the internet and find out what’s invasive in your area, region or state. Identify which species might be growing in your backyard or neighborhood. Learn to recognize common invaders and keep an eye out for signs of new ones. Check trees, gardens, vacant lots, roadsides, yards, agricultural areas, wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Early detection is crucial to stopping the spread of invasive species! Start with the USDA Database.

2.    Join in an Eradication Effort: Many parks and nature reserves manually remove invasive plants (and sometimes animals) with the help of local volunteers. These outings are a great way to get some exercise, enjoy time outdoors, meet new friends, and gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are protecting your natural heritage. A list of activities is provided here.
Report what you see.

3.   Become a Citizen Scientist: Working out in the field can be a very rewarding way to combat invasive species. Whether you are collecting scientific data to be used by local, state, or national agencies and organizations or actually helping get rid of the invasive plants and animal, you will be able to see up close and personal the impacts of invasive species and the results of your efforts. Visit Citizen Science Central ( for more information. To learn how report sightings of invaders, visit the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System at

4.   Visit a Garden, Park or Nature Center: Spend an afternoon at a botanic garden, park or natural area and familiarize yourself with the native flora and fauna in your area. Take a guided tour of one of Florida's State Parks or National Parks.
Hit the books!

5.   Read a Book: Not an outdoor type? Not to worry, even bookworms can participate in National Invasive Species Awareness Week. One Florida-specific text about the impact and management of Florida’s invasive species is Strangers in Paradise (Island Press). In Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, the author makes a compelling, ecologically-based case for eliminating invasive alien species, using native plants, and replacing sterile lawns.

6.   Donate: If you can’t give time, you might be able to give money. Even small amounts can help local invasive species organizations with control and management and other costs. Local conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Florida Native Plant Society and Friends of Florida State Parks have invasive species programs.
Get gardening!

7.   Start a Garden: Replace your invasive landscape plants with native alternatives. Unlike many non‐native plants, native plants are hardy, less susceptible to pests and diseases and unlikely to escape and become invasive. The great variety of plants native to any region give gardeners options that work well in any type of garden design. Because maintaining native plants requires less work, they provide excellent choices for large commercial landscapes as well as residential gardens. Of course, native plants have other benefits. They help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save money on fertilizer and pesticides. Information on planting natives can be found at , and, including plant selection tools and information on where to purchase native plants locally.

8.   Legislate: Write a letter to your local state representative or get involved with an activist group. Support federal or state efforts to restrict the importation of dangerous species such as the four large snakes recently banned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help protect the Everglades. Let your lawmakers know your opinions about the impact of invasive species on our natural heritage. Work on the local level to ensure that your community implements Florida Friendly Yards landscape ordinances.

Don't allow hitchhikers!
9.   Take the Invasive Species Challenge: One of the most effective ways to manage invasive species is by educating recreational boaters/fishermen, hobbyist pet owners, hikers and gardeners about how to avoid becoming vehicles of dispersion. Here are some easy everyday things you can do to meet the Invasive Species Challenge:
  • Boaters: Clean, drain and dry your boat trailer and gear every time you leave a body of water.
  • Pet Owners: If you have acquired an undesirable pet or fish species for your aquarium or water garden, it is important not to release these plants or animals into the environment. Follow these tips from Habitattitude for aquarium hobbyists and backyard pond owners.
  • Travelers, Hikers, Bikers, Birders, & Campers: Do not move firewood and other harvested wood out of the local area, as this has been found to spread Laurel Wilt, an exotic disease of Red Bay and Avocado trees infected by the wood boring ambrosia beetle.
  • Gardeners: Not all are non-native species are bad, but some plants that look lovely in your garden might be harmful invaders that will make their way into natural areas. The Be PlantWise website has easy tips on how to manage your garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands. In addition, the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council website has easy tips on how to avoid purchasing invasive plants.
Get the word out!

10. Spread Awareness: Take your National Invasive Species Awareness Week commitment beyond this week. Tell your friends, family, neighbors and others about invasive species! Have an invasive species dinner of Feral Hog, Lionfish or Asian Carp with Kudzu. It’s a big country and we can't get the word out to everyone without your help. Encourage them to get involved with National Invasive Species Awareness Week in their own way.

Florida-specific elements incorporated into National Invasive Species Awareness Week flyer by Fritz Wettstein, F.N.P.S. Magnolia Chapter President, and Laurie Sheldon

NISAW: Acronyms & Activities in Florida

February 26 – March 3, 2012

  • FISP: Florida Invasive Species Partnership, which has facilitated the formation of
  • CISMA(s): Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area(s) throughout the state
  • CWMA: Cooperative Weed Management Area
  • PRISM: Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management 
Florida map denoting the approximate locations of the activities listed below

1. North Central FL CISMA
Air Potato Round Up at Alligator Creek
Sat, February 25, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Edwards Road Sports Complex, 930 Edwards Rd, Starke

2. Invasive Plant Removal Workday
Sat, February 25 & Sun, March 11 from 9am –Noon
Angus K. Gholson, Jr. Nature Park,  Chattahoochee
Meet at the parking lot off Morgan Avenue, behind the Women's Club. Bring work gloves, a hand weeder tool if you have one, water, wear sturdy shoes or boots, and dress in layers for any kind of weather.
Sponsored by the City of Chattahoochee and the FNPS Magnolia Chapter
Contact LeighBrooks 850-663-4361 for information on volunteering
NISAW event
Old World Climbing Fern
Tue, February 28, 8:30am – 3:00pm
FP&L's Barley Barbour Swamp, 21900 Southwest Warfield Boulevard, Indiantown
Workday focused on removing old world climbing fern, Brazilian pepper
Invasive Species Workshop
Tue, February 28, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Ft. White Public Library, 17700 SW SR 447, Ft. White
Topic: Local Invasive Plants: ID & Control, Early Detection Rapid Response

Tues, February 28, 7:30 pm
Cogon Grass
Tallahassee Garden Club, 507 North Calhoun Street, Tallahassee
Identify which invasive plant species like Chinese Privet, Heavenly Bamboo, Chinese tallow, Cogon Grass or Coral Ardisia might be growing in your backyard or neighborhood and learn techniques for getting rid of them.

NISAW Exotics Workday
Wednesday, Feb 29, 9am – 2:30pm (volunteers are requested to put in a minimum of 3 hours)
Meet along the old road right-of-way at the north end of the Goodland Bridge of County Rd 92
Ten Thousand Islands Natl Wildl. Refuge, Conservation Collier, Rookery Bay NERR, Collier-Seminole State Park & the Southwest Florida CISMA will host a field workday to complete an invasive plant control project begun in April 2011. This will involve herbicide control of caster bean, lead tree, and Brazilian pepper.
Brazilian Pepper
Appropriate attire includes long pants, sturdy footwear, and a long sleeved shirt. Bring your own water and lunch, and leather or sturdy gloves if available.

2nd annual Central Florida Invasive Species Workshop
Thu, March 1, 12am – Fri, March 2, 12am
Circle B Bar Reserve, 4399 Winter Lake Rd, Lakeland
Popcorn Tree

8. Six Rivers CISMA
NISAW Workday in Niceville
Thu, March 1, 9am – 10am
Intersection of Bayshore Dr. & Everglade Dr. (1049 Everglade Dr., Niceville, FL)
We will be removing  popcorn trees on the Bayshore Dr. side  of  the intersection. DO NOT PARK THERE. Please try to make it; we need many helping hands.

Thu, March 1, 1pm – 3pm
Learn more about the partnerships around the nation that are crossing boundaries and joining forces to battle invasive species by joining the webcast 
Watch the live NISAW webcast
from any computer with internet access
Password: NISAWstate1! event #: 674 316 733
Webcast Schedule:
  • 1:00-1:20 pm: Overview of National Invasive Species Organizations by Damon Waitt, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1:20-1:40 pm: State Coordination of CWMAs: Funding and Species Inventories by Doug Johnson, California Invasive Plant Council
  • 1:40- 2:00 pm: Benefits of Having a Paid CWMA Coordinator by Chris Evans, River to River CWMA
  • 2:00-2:20 pm: Early Detection and Rapid Response Success Stories by Tony Pernas, National Park Service
  • 2:20- 2:40 pm: Managing invasive species on tribal lands by Susan Kedzie, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • 2:40-3:00 pm: Panel Discussion, moderated by Chuck Bargeron (University of Georgia) and Kris Serbesoff-King (The Nature Conservancy)
Air Potato

9. Central Florida CISMA
Invasive Species Hike
Fri, March 2, 12am – Sat, March 3, 12am
Isle of Pine Preserve, 14032 Lacebark Pine Rd, Orlando
6th Annual First Coast Air Potato Round-up
Sat, March 3, 9am – 12pm
Come join the fun and help rid our natural areas of Air Potato vine and other invasive plants. Prizes awarded for the two largest potatoes found! 10 sites throughout Nassau, Baker, Clay, Duval, and St. Johns county. Follow this link to find the site nearest you:
Scaevola taccada
Sat, March 3, 9am – 12pm
Blowing Rocks Preserve, 574 S. Beach Road, Hobe Sound
Removing Scaevola taccada from private lands adjacent to preserve.

The National Association of Exotic Pest Plant Councils
Florida Invasive Species Partnership

Tallahassee-area activities provided by Fritz Wettstein, F.N.P.S. Magnolia Chapter President
Additional activities and map provided by Laurie Sheldon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Plant Profile: Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Figure 1. Tubular flowers of the coral honeysuckle.
Photo credit: Stan Shebs
 This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Krystal Dannenhoffer & Ashley Gustafson

“First year it sleeps, second it creeps, and then it leaps.” (FloridaGardner)

The coral honeysuckle is native to many parts of Florida and elsewhere in southeastern United States. It is widely planted and the vine grows best on trellises and fences and does well in slightly acidic soils and full sun.

Known for the bright, coral clusters of tubular flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer, the coral honeysuckle is a definite eye-catcher. They attract all sorts of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. During late summer and the beginning of fall, berries are produced and eaten by songbirds.

The coral honeysuckle is not a high-maintenance plant. In fact, it is tolerant of drought and does not attract pests. The vines can grow more than 20 feet and therefore, may require some pruning. It takes the coral honeysuckle two years to develop a strong root system. After those first two years, flowers should be abundant. Then, you can enjoy the beautiful flowers and the animals that they attract.

Should you want one to grow your own, please visit the following site for vendors:


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plant Profile: Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans)

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Shari Dillet, Devin Resko, Jonathan Kelly

Mangroves are found in Florida because of its sub-tropical environment. The humid, coastal regions of Florida offer ideal conditions for the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans). This particular tree can be seen along the intertidal salt marshes of St. Augustine down to the Keys. The increasing water temperatures of the Atlantic have contributed to the mangroves range expansion northward along the east coast of the U.S.

Avicennia germinans wood is a dark brown with square scales that aids in protection against harsh winds. Its leaves are 2-4 inches in length by 1 inch in width. The topside of the leaf is smooth and glossy while the bottom side is fuzzy. The black mangrove can grow up to 50 feet tall in Florida regions but that is rare. In Louisiana, the mangrove only reaches heights up to ten feet.

Figure 1. a. black mangrove. b. red mangrove. Photo credit: A. Tappert.;
The black mangrove has unique aerial roots called pneumatophores (Figure 1). Pneumatophores pop up around the base of the tree and provides a means to access oxygen from aboveground. Typically, the saturated soils are low in oxygen. By comparison, the red mangrove uses prop roots for similar purposes (Figure 1).
The specific epithet germinans refers to the seed germination process. Referred to as vivipary, the juvenile seed of the black mangrove matures and grows during the time it is attached to its parent tree. After the juvenile seed falls off the parent, it will float for a period of time, and then settle. At this time, the roots will begin to ‘germinate’.

The black mangrove is ecologically important for a number of reasons. It takes up nutrients that run off into salt marshes. Also, it traps sediments from the brackish waters and builds banks, which prevents erosion. Mangrove forests are a haven for several species of birds such as, the Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) and the Yellow Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea). In June and July, bees take up nectar from the mangrove’s blooming flowers and their hives can be harvested for fine-quality honey.
The plant can be purchased from vendors at this site:
Work Cited:

1. Houck, M. (2009). Black mangrove Avicennia germinans. United States Department of agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retrieved from

2. Hill, K. (2009). Mangrove habitats. Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Retrieved from

3. Gann, G., Abdo, M., Gann, J., & Gann, G. (2005). Black mangrove. Natives For Your Neighborhood., Retrieved from

Also see our previous post: Florida's Marvelous Mangroves

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Darwin and Lincoln - Two Peas in a Pod?

Abraham Lincoln, 1860
Charles Darwin, 1840

Today in History
by Laurie Sheldon

Both Charles Darwin and Abe Lincoln were born today, February 12, in 1809. Darwin's influence on the study of the natural world is widely known, but Lincoln's is not. Sure, he successfully led our country through Civil War, preserved the Union and ended slavery, but he also made a lasting impact on the green front. Here's how:

Justin Smith Morrill, a Congressional Representative from Vermont, was an outspoken advocate for the democratic ideal that a college education should be available, at low cost, to all who desired one. The issue was dear to his heart, having been the son of a blacksmith who had to go to work at 15 years old because his family did not have the means to provide him with a higher education. At any rate, Morrill proposed a plan that called for the establishment of state agricultural colleges through the use of federal land grants, and, although the plan had passed in both House and Senate by 1859, President James Buchanan vetoed it (insert loud BOO here).
Florida Agricultural College at Lake City, Survey Class, 1896
The subsequent President, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Morrill Land Grant Act into law in 1862 (YAY). Under its terms, states were given 30,000 acres of public land for each Senator and Representative under apportionment based on the 1860 census. Proceeds from the sale of these lands were to be invested in a perpetual endowment fund which would provide support for colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts in each of the states. The Florida Agricultural College at Lake City was established in 1884 under the MGLA. In 1906, it became the College of Agriculture of the University of Florida. Almost 60 years later, Florida’s governing body for higher education reorganized the College of Agriculture, School of Forestry, Ag Experiment Stations, and Cooperative Extension Services into a single unit - the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Since then, IFAS has extended into every community in the state of Florida. Its mission is to develop knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and to enhance and sustain the quality of human life by making that information accessible.

Valentines Gifting Made Easy

by Laurie Sheldon

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. While some people may consider it to be a trivial or sappy holiday, I believe that it’s the perfect opportunity to tell your loved ones that they are an important part of your life.
Although it’s fairly standard to give your sweetheart a bouquet of red roses or a fancy box of chocolate, the truth remains that neither one has a chance of lasting into March (unless your love is allergic to chocolate). Surely, you want to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak. Why not consider giving something that stands the test of time, and can be a continued reminder of your enduring affection? No - I'm not talking about jewelry or a Keurig! Think GREEN. Bring that special someone a native plant. It’s the gift that says, “I’m in it for the long haul,” and “I’m too thoughtful to give you something I grabbed at a 24-hour drug store.” Aside from making his/her heart beat a little faster, you’ll be keeping Florida’s air cleaner and your bodies trimmer.

Plants to woo your valentine with in north Florida
Above: Woodland Phlox in full bloom;
Below: Eastern Redbud flowers, born
directly on its woody frame, are followed
with a flush of heart-shaped leaves.

Leslie Pierpont of Jacksonville's Ixia chapter suggests Phlox divaricata or Woodland Phlox. A native to north Florida’s sloping woods and bluffs, this evergreen groundcover bursts open its purple-blue flowers in February, and stands about 1 foot tall in bloom. Woodland Phlox likes moist, calcareous hammocks, and grows naturally on the Apalachicola River bluffs and ravines. In Jacksonville, it thrives in cool, shady areas with limey soil. Complimentary plants include native ferns, Parsley Haw and Oakleaf Hydrangea.

I'm rather partial to Cercis canadensis, or Eastern Redbud. This deciduous native will delight your special someone in late February when its bare stems and branches explode in a rose pink cloak of blooms. After flowering, Redbud unfurls its leaves, which look like wide, papery hearts because of their oval shape and cordate bases. It is hardy from Michigan south to central Florida, where it appreciates being planted in a shady spot - particularly during summer (don’t we all?) Cercis canadensis makes an excellent understory or specimen tree, which grows to about 25’ high, and is typically taller than it is wide. It is not picky about soil pH, and is tolerant of both drought and short-term inundation. As if that wasn’t enough to sell you on this lovely member of the Fabaceae family (no relation to the Kardashians - thank goodness), its leaves turn a golden yellow for additional fall color.

Species for your hot south Florida honey

Passiflora suberosa, or Corkystem Passion-Vine, would make a spectacular gift in the lower half of the state. In addition to its habit of blooming year-round, it is a larval host for longwinged butterflies (namely, the julia, gulf fritillary, and zebra longwing), and its flowers are followed by dark purple berries that birds are quite fond of. Its flowers have an unusual, almost extra-terrestrial or sea anemone look that is impossible to forget (but sort of hard to describe). It will tolerate full sun or shade, and, as long as the soil stays somewhere between moist and not-quite-dry, it will bring both you and your valentine many years of enjoyment.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trout Lilies Bloom Early

Can you imagine 10 acres of forest floor covered in Yellow-dimpled Trout Lilies (Erythronium umbilicatum)? It's a reality right now at the Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, the 140 acre area that boasts the largest and most concentrated occurrence of these little yellow beauties in the U.S.. Although they normally do not flower until mid to late February, an unseasonably warm winter has coaxed them into an early display that is not to be missed. Among the other rare and interesting wildflowers on the site are thousands of deep maroon Spotted Trillium (Trillium maculatum).

If you can visit the Preserve, it is highly recommended that you do so within the next week, before the blooms begin declining. It will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, February 11 & 12. If you wish to go on another day, however, the gate is kept closed, but not locked. Visitors should wear good shoes with treads, as the terrain is a sloped hardwood forest. Those with minor mobility problems should carry a walking stick and be accompanied by an able-bodied companion. The preserve’s website,, contains a wealth of information about Trout Lilies and the site's history, photographs, maps and directions, and an updated schedule of open days.

Thanks to a grant from the Georgia Land Conservation Program and the generous donations of former owners, nature groups, and other interested citizens, the Preserve was designated an official Conservation Area in 2009 by the Grady County Board of Commissioners. On Friday, Feb. 10 at noon, Dan Miller, the leader of the movement that acquired the property for conservation, will be giving a slide show and lecture about the preserve, trout lilies, other Spring wildflowers, and how to use them in the garden, at Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee. He will also have plants for sale. Miller propagates and promotes the use of native plants in home landscapes at Trillium Gardens, a small native plant nursery in Tallahassee. For more information about Goodwood and this program, go to

Photos simply cannot do justice to this one-of-a-kind site.
Guest blog by Beth Grant
Edited by Laurie Sheldon
Photos by Lou Kellenberger

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saving Florida's Symbol: Take Care of Our Sabal Palm

Properly pruned sabal palm.

It's not a well-known fact, but this most regal name for the Sabal palm (pronounced Sāʼbăl) (Sabal palmetto) originated with Native Americans, perhaps on seeing their first palm trees. With that being the case, it bodes for us to pay closer attention to the heritage of our state symbol.


These nobles began life in the Unite States in our southeastern region after having wandered north from the Caribbean area where they can thrive here today—with the proper care. They are also commonly called Cabbage, Palmetto or Hat palms, with 16 species spread across northeastern Mexico to Florida.

They find a comfortable habitat in open areas, where the dunes flow and flats tidal, savannas breeze, occasionally swamp shades and even—salt marshes!

How many of us know that the State of Florida has honored this tree by designating it as the official state tree—that happened in 1953—more than likely because it's all over the state. Then things finally came to a head, in 1970, when the Florida legislature declared the Sabal needed to replace the cocoa palm on the state seal.

Growing in some of the worst soil is no problem for the Sabal and it's known for its multi-tasking: food, medicine, and landscaping. Being a very big favorite with landscapers has promoted its availability through a host of commercial resources.

Floridians have a duty to the State Symbol. Let's keep it around as long as we can.
Just so everyone knows:

The Sabal Palm is in jeopardy!

Once the growing tip dies or is trimmed
away, the tree cannot grow back.

Bacteria are killing our favorite palm, carried by a vomiting bug. What a disgusting thought! Some of our horticulturists believe it was brought over from Texas. Others believe it arrived on another type of palm.

As of this time, there is no antidote for the horrible problem and the bad news is you can't tell it's there just by looking. If you have a regular landscape service, check with them to see if they can put a test on your Sabal to make sure it's healthy—especially if you have several. Perhaps you can have one tree destroyed before it has hit all the others.

Lastly, it's a good idea to inject your palms with antibiotics. Your nursery can give you instructions, depending on its age and dimensions.


The fronds are what feed the tree. Even the large brown frond bases need to remain. Apparently, there are specific methods for trimming these palms or we'll find another way to lose them.

Pruning that leaves an 11 to 1 profile (on the clock) will kill them! The standard is to leave a 9 to 3 outline. Keep the fronds, as many as possible. They supply the tree with nutrients. Did we say that before? If so, it's worth saying again: Leave as many fronds as possible.


One more thing, if you need to get up into the tree, please do use a ladder. A palm does not have the capacity for self-healing, as do other trees, so that if you wear spikes to climb these palms, you are doing permanent damage! Don't do that either!


One more time: use a ladder and get up into the canopy to remove them. Be sure to keep the lower part of the frond (where it widens) in place. This will become part of the tree's structure—they are important to the canopy's support when high winds occur.
Removing the dead frond stems (horticulturists call them "boots" as they form around the trunk, under the crown) will also kill them! Don't do that! They form the support for the crown. If your goal is to remove the flowers, refrain from removing the fronds. Use a pole-saw with a snap-head adjustment that allows you to bypass the fronds, reach in there and take out the flowers or fruit you want to remove.

This palm is somewhat over-pruned.

1. Prune correctly (or hire a professional)

2. Watch for disease

3. Don't climb with spikes

With all this in mind, you can help save Florida's state symbol and keep the beautiful Sabal palm as a specimen star in your landscape.

Guest post written by Pat Hogan, a landscaping enthusiast developing resourceful websites about trees in Orlando and trees in Miami.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Plant Profile: Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata)

Figure 1. Sea oats growing along the dunes.
This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Jennifer Scaduto and Lori Waite

If you have ever been to a sandy beach in the state of Florida then you have likely seen sea oats. This grass can grow up to 6 ft tall and the individual grass leaves can be as big as 2 ft long and 1 in wide. Like most grasses, the leaves are long and tapered.

These grasses are extraordinarily tough. Naturally growing in coastal dunes, they thrive in the hot sands, where the top layer can reach temperatures between 120⁰ and 127⁰ F. Unlike many other dune plants, sea oats are found along the dune crest and can tolerate daily exposure to sea spray. They even can withstand hurricane winds and periods of drought. The plant has a special relationship with vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi. The fungi bind to the roots (in a positive way!) and thereby increase access to nutrients for a plant growing in such a challenging habitat.

These plants are important in the preservation of Florida sand dunes. Once a plant is established, their roots can be very extensive (up to 30 feet in length!). The roots and rhizomes help to stabilize shifting sands along the foredune and dune crest, thereby preventing erosion.

By helping to protect the dunes, sea oats provide habitat for many plants and the seeds are food for animals such as the federally endangered beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) and songbirds. The base of sand dunes is where the highly endangered sea turtles lay their eggs.

Sea oats therefore have a great environmental and economic value to the state of Florida. In fact, these plants are protected by state law. The plants are far from being endangered, but it is still illegal to pick wild sea oats, even the seeds. So please, take care of our sea oats!

Work Cited:
Barbour, M. (2000). North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press.

Christman, Steve. (2004). Tallahassee, Fl.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.(2011).

Hill, K., (2001). Smithsonian Marine Station. .