Showing posts from May, 2012

Plant Profile: Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower

By Kelsey Olsen and Stephanie Shankle

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

Going to catch some waves? If you're lucky, you'll see some beach sunflower, Helianthus debilis, also known as east coast dune sunflower. This Florida native and member of the aster family (Asteraceae) can be found on beaches and in dunes along the east coast and has been introduced up the coast to North Carolina. As its common names suggest, it can survive in dunes where it may be exposed to salt spray and salty soils. Despite its fondness for waterfront areas, Helianthus debilis does not do well in flooded areas.

Two subspecies also occur in the state. One of these, H. debilis ssp. cucumerifolius (cucumberleaf dune sunflower), is common in Florida's central and western counties, while the other,  H. debilis ssp. vestitus (west coast dune sunflower), is endemic, and found in six counties (from Pinellas south to Lee) along the …

Conference Tees!

So you heard what a great conference we had this May, but simply weren't able to attend? Well, you can still show your support with this great conference tee. Get 'em while they last, as sizes and quantities are limited.

$12.  You save $5.
Women's and Men's sizes in two colors at the following links:

When you wear or use FNPS logo merchandise, you spread the word on the importance of native plants, advertise our society, and you also support FNPS with your dollars!

Shop The FNPS Store!

Jaret Daniels and His Charismatic Pollinators

  Jaret Daniels is assistant professor of entomology at the University of Florida and assistant curator of lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History. He also established the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network and has worked to address declines in the endangered Miami blue butterfly.

Jaret was a speaker at the 2012 FNPS conference in Plant City, FL. I'd heard him speak twice before, but Jaret has so much information to share that there is always something new to learn or a different way of viewing ecological problems in our landscapes.

Charismatic Pollinators
He urged us to approach landscape conservation from an economic viewpoint and to emphasize the Charismatic Pollinators—butterflies and bees. 70% flowering plants need pollinators, including more than 100 crops worth more than $20 billion/year.

Native pollinators are filling the gaps left by colony collapse disorder for honeybees. Unlike the European honeybees that are highly managed and carried to specific cro…

2012 Conference Highlights, Part 1

By Laurie Sheldon
Foreword Before getting into the body of this blog, I’d like to take a moment to describe my experience last weekend at the FNPS conference in Plant City. For starters, this was my first conference, so, aside from knowing the lineup of speakers, socials, and field trips, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I kept recalling a sketch I saw on late night television many years ago in which Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviewed a gathering of Star Wars fans, and did just what anyone would expect of a talking, cigar-smoking, bow-tie wearing canine - he made fun of them. Granted, nerdy adult men in Ewok costumes are fairly easy targets, but still… I couldn’t help wondering if I was headed into a variation of that scene, less the dog and light sabers, of course. “Jeez, I hope not,” I thought, “since I really don’t care for science fiction.” After receiving an invitation to report about the event to the blog-reading world, I booked a hotel room, packed my ba…

Live blogging from the 2012 FNPS conference.

After more talking out on the boardwalks. Sunday lots of attendees went on field trips around the area. And so ends another fantastic Florida Native Plant Society conference.  Next year the Ixia chapter will host the conference in Jacksonville. Make your plans now.  It'll be great!

We hope you enjoyed the live blogging series from the conference. We will post more detailed pieces on individual presentations and and other conference topics in the next several weeks. Ginny Stibolt.

Doug Tallamy at FNPS

Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home: What You can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants,” is speaking to us this morning about the problem of isolation of habitats and what happens to wildlife populations, especially small ones.He suggests that we restore all of the landscapes in between corridors. Use more plants, but any plant won’t do.Choosing native plants makes all the difference for the insects.

Think about your yard as an opportunity to perform ecosystem services.

He showed us an impressive number of butterflies and their larvae. And most important… the plants that are needed to support them.And insects support birds, toads, frogs, and the insect eaters support the higher predators.

Tallamy suggests that we reverse the “normal” landscaping so that there be turf only where you walk with bunching grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees—both tall and understory species.

For more information see Tallamy's website:

Purchase your own copy on …

Live blogging from Gigis Garden in Plant City


Live blogging from FNPS conference

Live from Plant City!

And we're off!

By Laurie Sheldon

After a day of travel, field trips, and an exceptionally well attended Board of Directors meeting, FNPS conference attendees headed over to the Red Rose Inn Ballroom, where they showed that, contrary to what you may have heard, they're not JUST about natives...

...they like cheese, fruit, crackers, drinks, socializing, and - most importantly - showing off their plant smarts! FNPS Jeopardy, a perennial favorite among members from across the state, was the featured entertainment, and believe you me - the stakes were high.

Well, sort of. Nevertheless, the competition was so fierce that we had two hosts officiating over the crowd of green-thumbed hand-raisers. Beat that, Alex Trebek! Although Ray Wunderlich did an outstanding job as scorekeeper, everyone was a winner as far as I was concerned. Perhaps that's why I felt the urge to blurt out one of the answers without raising my hand (oops)!

We concluded the evening with a guitar serenade, and wandered off to ou…

Live Blogging from FNPS in Plant City Part 1

The 2012 FNPS Conference theme "Preserving the Natural Heart of Florida" and has this cool logo and you can purchase on a tee shirt.

The conference offers something for everyone.  Bunches of folks are out on field trips today. Tonight is the welcoming Social. Thesessions start tomorrow. More on them later.

You may register onsite for one or two days, plus there is an inexpensive homeowners' option for one session. More information here:

Live blog post by Ginny Stibolt

Family Profile: The Lauraceae

By Lucas Hill

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 individually with their initial drafts, and provided them with editorial feedback and guidance for content development.

Leaf: simple, entire, alternate (leaves on opposite sides of the stem and do not attach at the same point), and spiral (rotating in position along the stem)
Flower: bisexual or unisexual, radial, usually small and pale
Fruit: berry-like drupe

Members of the family Lauraceae are mostly trees and shrubs, with one genus (Cassytha) that is a parasitic vine. Many are rich in aromatic ethereal oils that have terpenoids and alkaloids (organic chemicals that have many uses to the plant, including defense). This family consists of 50 genera, 8 of which are found here in Florida. The red bay (Persea borbonia var. borbonia, Fig. 1), silk bay (P. borbonia var. humilis, Fig. 2)…

It's All Good

By Steve Woodmansee
President, Florida Native Plant Society

Members have raised over $1,000 for the Florida Native Plant Society with their everyday actions, namely, cruising the internet, shopping, and eating! You can show your support for the Society everyday too, by using GoodSearch, GoodShop, and GoodDining. They're free, they're easy, and they're secure.

By using GoodSearch as your primary search engine, you can raise a penny per search for the Society. Powered by Yahoo, it’s not only a great tool to surf the net, but an easy way to generate revenue to fund our programs. Just go to GoodSearch and select the Florida Native Plant Society-Melbourne to get started. Better yet, make it the default search engine on your homepage and watch those pennies add up to dollars in no time!


Purchasing power has a new definition! Make a gift more meaningful and your online shopping go further by registering the Florida Native Plant Society-Melbourne as your charity …

The Fabulous Florida Fish Fuddle Tree

By Steven W. Woodmansee, FNPS President

More commonly known as the Jamaican Dogwood, Florida Fish Fuddle Tree (Piscidia piscipula) merits attention in the landscape as it is indeed a showy flowering native tree. Flowering in May, it holds its own with another member of the pea family (Fabaceae), the Madagascar native Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia). Tree branches become covered by papillionoid (butterfly shaped) flowers possessing a blend of rosy white with green spots (Fig. 1). Also similar to many showy flowering trees, it typically sheds its leaves before flowering (Fig. 2). Fruits are chartaceous (papery) winged seedpods, beige in color (Figs. 3,4). Jamaican Dogwood is a large tree to 45 feet in Florida, and is constituent of rockland hammock and/or shell mound habitats along the coast line from Miami-Dade County, through Monroe County including the Florida Keys, north along Florida’s west coast to Pinellas County in addition to the Tropical Americas. It does not tolerate freezes, …