Showing posts from April, 2012

Florida’s Mangroves: A Cross-family Comparison

By Lily Everson and Kara Cecil

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.

Mangroves are tropical trees that can grow well in both fresh and brackish water. There are four main species of mangroves in Florida: the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle, Fig. 2), the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans, Fig. 3), the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa, Fig. 4), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). This article will focus on the red, black, and white mangrove species.

Mangroves are traditionally found on the coasts of Florida as far north as St. Augustine. With the warming of temperatures, the mangroves have been spreading northward into salt marsh habitats dominated by Spartina alterniflora. This has become a topic of interest due to the ecological consequences of such a major…

An Ode to Volunteers

By Cindy Liberton, 32nd Annual FNPS Conference Planning Committee

Here we are again, between Earth Day 2012 and Arbor Day, holidays best spent outdoors.

Earth Day was originally intended as a date to commemorate humankind's relationship with the planet. Since its start in 1970, we have seen the event evolve, wax and wane, but, to me, April 22nd means a day for celebration, reflection, and lots of community events.  Each event, in every, community, wouldn't happen without volunteers.  And that is a big thing, and something to reflect upon.

2012’s Earth Day in Florida was especially remarkable to me because of some specific volunteers, both renowned and unsung. On this Earth Day, just over the Florida state line, four intrepid environmentalists completed day 97 of the "1000 miles, 100 Days”  Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition . Their efforts to spotlight the remaining greenways and wildlife corridors of Florida have made the news throughout the state. Jeff Klinkenberg cove…

Harvesting & Storing Seeds

By Steven W. Woodmansee, FNPS President
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to growing new native plant species is obtaining seeds and germplasm for them. Germplasm is a term used to describe any plant material used in propagation. It could be seeds, cuttings, air layers, or tissue (root or otherwise).  By and large, the plant nursery industry often prefers cuttings or tissue culture as they present the easiest/cheapest way to mass produce plants, as well as preserve certain plant characteristics. Seeds are generally the preferred method ecologically, as each seed will present a unique set of genetic material thereby assuring genetic diversity within a species and preventing things like artificial genetic drift (i.e. plants will no longer be selected for survivability), disease susceptibility, inbreeding, etc.
Not all plants are the same when it comes to harvesting, storing, & germinating seed/fruit. First things first, when harvesting wet or pulpy fruit, in general it is best to …

Plant Profile: Coral Bean, Erythrina herbacea

By Dakota Nielsen and Ciarra Slater*

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

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magniolophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Family: Fabaceae
Specific epithet: herbacea

Erythrina herbacea, also known as the coralbean, Cherokee bean and the cardinal spear, is a member of the Fabaceae or pea family. It is found throughout the state, growing in hardwood hammocks, open sandy woods, and even near saltwater.

The coralbean can grow to 3-4 ft tall and has prickly stems. To maximize exposure to sunlight for photosynthesis, they can change their orientation to the light, which is known as heliotropism.

The flowers are scarlet red and bloom in the months of May to June, attracting hummingbirds with sweet delicious nectar. Coralbean takes its name from the bright red seeds found inside each pod. The large seeds are eaten by birds and other animals in late summer and au…

The Evolution of a Conference Attendee

FNPS member Janet Bowers reflects on a half decade of conferences
I joined the Florida Native Plant Society several years ago to find out where to buy native plants. I decided to go to a chapter meeting a couple years later, which truly I enjoyed. A schedule change shortly thereafter prevented me from attending other meetings. Although I received the statewide newsletters and info about the yearly conference, I was hesitant to attend since I didn’t know anyone in the organization.

The first conference I attended was in Gainesville in 2007. I actually went as a vendor to volunteer at the Bok Tower plant sale table outside. The selection at the sale was incredible. Awed by the sheer volume of plants, I quickly filled my car with purchases. When I discovered that Janisse Ray was the keynote speaker, I read her books, prepared for a great talk, and was not disappointed. Her lecture was both inspiring and entertaining. I asked her to autograph my books and chatted with her for a few minu…

Cuscuta pentagona: The "Dodder" That Won't Leave Home

By Jeff Cassel

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

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Solanales
Family: Cuscutacea
Specific epithet: pentagona
Common name: Fiveangled Dodder

Cuscuta pentagona, or fiveangled dodder is a parasitic climbing vine, which means that it derives its nutrients from other organisms. Fiveangled dodder can be found throughout Florida in a variety of different habitats that include hammocks, dunes, and brackish marshes. You can recognize the plant by its yellow to orange stems (Fig. 1) and white, bell-shaped flowers (Fig. 2).

Because it is parasitic, dodder does not have chlorophyll and therefore does not photosynthesize. Dodder produces large numbers of seeds that depend on weathering or fungal attacks in order to germinate. These seeds can live in the soil for up to 20 years, waiting for the perfect conditions. Once…

Plant City: History in the Heart of Florida

by Cindy Liberton

Location, Location, Location
The Suncoast Chapter serves Hillsborough County, reaching from Tampa Bay north to Lutz, south to Ruskin, and east to Plant City, site of the 32nd annual Florida Native Plant conference. With so many places to choose from, some may wonder, “why Plant City? Is it the name?" If you only know Plant City as a blur south of the Interstate, you are not alone. After whizzing by it countless times, I finally slowed down to see what Plant City had to offer; it was truly a worthwhile decision. Here are some of the reasons why...

It turns out that Plant City is one of the few “walkable” towns in Florida, complete with historic buildings and murals. Though close to the urban sprawl of Tampa, it has retained the small town feel and heritage that flows from its unique history and location.

Plant City sits on I-4 between Lakeland and Tampa, and has about 35,000 area residents. Although it certainly is on the road to well-known tourist attractions, it…

Florida’s Fabulous Fabaceae Family

By Becca Massip

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.

The Fabaceae family is known as the Pea Family. It is the third largest family amongst flowering plants, containing over 16,000 species. There are 314 species in Florida alone, 168 of which are natives! This family is found in temperate and tropical environments all over the world however, most species prefer seasonally dry habitats. This family is very unique because it can directly fix atmospheric nitrogen with the help of root nodulating bacteria.

Leaves: simple, trifoliate, pinnate, or bipinnate
Fruit: legume
Flower: zygomorphic or actinomorphic
The Fabaceae family includes three subfamilies: Mimosoideae, Caesalpinioideae, and Faboideae. Species within Faboideae are common throughout Florida …

Love Is In the Air or What's All Over My Car?

A Story about Live Oaks, Pollen, and Understanding
By Laurie Sheldon
     Aah, spring… the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the oaks are leafing out and my neighborhood is plastered in yellow. No, we don’t have a Post-it® fetish. It’s pollen, and it’s earlier and thicker than usual this year. Don’t go hating on the oak trees, though - it’s not really their fault. They are simply responding to the climbing temperature. The fresh air and changes in wind which push out at least some of the pollen come from the cold fronts we normally have in early spring. These beneficial fronts have been m.i.a. this year, which has left us roosting in an inert yellow cloud.      On the bright side, however, is the effect that this abundance of pollen has had on my curiosity. It occurred to me that, while fairly knowledgeable about zoophyly (pollination by animals including birds, bats, and insects), I knew little about anemophyly (wind pollination) other than the fact that it seemed…