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.
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Darwin and Lincoln - Two Peas in a Pod?
Abraham Lincoln, 1860
Charles Darwin, 1840
Today in History
by Laurie Sheldon
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:
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.
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…
by Eugene Kelly, Policy and Legislation Chair
Florida Native Plant Society
Have you heard about the “M-CORES Project”? If not, you may want to start paying attention because it will affect communities across much of Florida and will certainly impact native plants and native plant communities. Short for Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance, the project proposes to build more than 330 miles of new toll roads through huge swaths of rural land for the stated purpose of promoting economic development. The projects were proposed by the Florida Legislature and are not purported to meet any transportation need identified or vetted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The Suncoast Connector would extend from the northern end of the existing Suncoast Parkway a distance of at least 160 miles to the Georgia border in Jefferson County. The Northern Turnpike Connector would extend about 30 miles, from the current northern terminus of the Turnpike to the Suncoast…
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…