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Showing posts from June, 2012

Plant Profile: Devil’s Walking Stick, Aralia Spinosa

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By Nnamdi Ofodile

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

Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Family: Araliaceae
Genus:Aralia
Specific epithet:spinosa

Description
Aralia spinosa, Devil’s walking stick, is the only Aralia species in Florida (Figure 1) and is an aromatic spiny shrub/small tree of the Ginseng or Araliaceae family. You can find this plant in the northern and central counties of the state, and in moist soils that are partially shaded by a canopy, where it typically grows between 12 and 15 feet high.

Lean against the thin trunk of Devil's walking stick and you'll quickly figure out where the plant's name comes from. The stems are armed up and down with exceptionally sharp spines, hence spinosa (Figure 2). To add insult to injury, the petioles and surfaces of the pinnately-compound leaves, which can be 3 feet long and equally wide, are covered in pointe…

Pollinator Week Wrap-up: Advanced Butterfly Gardening

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By Laurie Sheldon

In the spirit of Pollinator week, the Ixia chapter invited butterfly breeder Edith Smith to speak at their meeting in Jacksonville last week. Two days later, Edith gave the chapter a tour of Shady Oak Butterfly Farm in Brooker, FL, which she and her husband Stephen own and operate.

At the Meeting
Because the majority of our chapter members are well versed in the basics of butterfly gardening, Edith's presentation focused on some of the more advanced concepts involved in butterfly and moth rearing, including nutritional requirements, parasitoids, and diseases of viral and fungal origin. She also made sure we knew that, contrary to popular belief, butterflies do not sleep in "butterfly houses" (bird houses with narrow vertical entrances).

Nutrition
"Puddling," a phenomenon wherein butterflies gather to sip from wet sand or soil, is an important activity to males of the species. They do so to get the nutrients they need to bolster their fertility.…

Plant Profile: Canada Goldenrod

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By Sarah Bailey

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

Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus:Solidago
Specific Epithet:canadensis
Variety:scabra

Botanical Name:Solidago canadensis var. scabra
Common Name: Canada Goldenrod

Habitat
Although Solidago canadensis var. scabra (Canada goldenrod) is found primarily in the northwestern portions of Florida, it grows in the state's interior as well (Fig. 2). You can find this plant in meadows, waterways, ditches along roads, and large fields that are not tended to or grazed by animals. Its growing season extends from July to October.

Characteristics
Canada goldenrod belongs to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family and can easily be identified by its panicles of bright yellow flowers (Fig. 3). Individual flowers are relatively small and found at the tips of the stems. Leaves are alternately arranged alon…

Celebrate Pollinator Week: Support your pollinators

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The US Senate unanimously approved the motion to designate the last week in June as pollinator week. Who says the Senate can't agree on anything? In the past five years the pollinator week celebration has become an international event. This year it's June 18--24.

Much of the focus of pollinator week is on our food supply.  Every third bite of food we eat depends upon pollinators. But since 2006, the colony collapse disorder of the European honeybees has alarmed the beekeeping experts. Honeybees have been used as pollinators for hire. Beekeepers move their hives into an area where a large crop (often a monoculture) awaits pollinators in order for fruit to be formed. For example, a female squash flower, needs to be visited eight to ten times by bees or wasps that have also visited the male flowers for a fruit to form.

The Pollinator Partnership is the sponsoring agency for the pollinator week. They encourage you to "Invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a po…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: 2012 Conference Highlights, Part 3

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By Laurie Sheldon

Sonny Vergara knows what he’s talking about… and he’s not one to mince words. As former Executive Director of both the St. Johns and the Southwest Florida Water Management Districts, and general manager of the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, he is one of Florida’s most experienced water managers. So when I learned that he was scheduled to give a presentation entitled “Water Management District Issues: What's Going On?” I sat front and center, and was all ears.

The Big Question

Sonny began his lecture by querying his audience: Can fiscal conservatism and environmental conservatism co-exist in a financially challenged Florida?

Prior to the economic collapse, fiscal conservatism meant limited taxes and government size, the promotion of personal wealth, support for sustainable initiatives, and the pursuit of an enhanced quality of life. The importance of our environment to the quality of our lives was recognized, and efforts were made to protect…

FNPS has a brand new website

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The Florida Native Plant Society's new website has been under development for years, but as of last week, it's live. While it's available for us to us now, the website committee is still adding new features. It's more than just a nifty new design; it's a whole new editor and content manager. This offers much more flexibility and many more resources for both the membership and the public.


On the home page there is a rotating header with live links to the four areas highlighted: education, research, landscaping, and natural lands.

Under the header is a varying list of news, and below that is the most recent post of this blog, with links back to the most recent blog posts.

The footer highlights some important sections of the website and offers resources for members and its chapters, including the FNPS handbook, which is now a series of wiki pages. (We'll cover the handbook in the later post.)

When you mouse over the top menu items, all but one (Chapters) displays …

Plant Profile: Eastern Purple Coneflower, Echinacea Purpurea

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By Summer Gagel and Raya Chouk

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

Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta    
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae/Compositae
Genus:Echinacea
Specific epithet:purpurea

Description
Echinacea purpurea, or eastern purple coneflower, is the only native Echinacea species in Florida, although it is found elsewhere in the United States and Canada. E. purpurea is endangered in Florida, where the only vouchered specimens exist in the calcareous hammocks of Gadsen County.

This perennial plant, which grows in clumps, may have individual stems of up to 3 feet high (Figure 1). Although you could probably guess that the specific epithet, “purpurea,” points to the purple tint of its ray flowers (Figure 1), did you know that its genus is attributable to the appearance of its inflorescence as well?Echinacea is Greek for hedgehog - a reference to its prickly, dome-shaped d…

The Florida Narrative: 2012 Conference Highlights, Part 2

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By Laurie Sheldon

Jeff Klinkenberg, The first keynote speaker of the 2012 FNPS Conference in Plant City, delivered without a PowerPoint or as much as a notecard, yet his message was no less vivid than those accompanied by fabulous macro images - a testament to his skill as a storyteller. The following is what I took away from his presentation, entitled “Skeeters, Poison Ivy and Other Things I Love About Real Florida.”

Today there are about 19 million Floridians. Perhaps the fact that we have the unique opportunity to die from an alligator attack makes us brethren, in a sense, while it differentiates us from New Yorkers. Beyond our potential-death-by-reptile commonality, however, our own narratives about Florida are as distinct as our fingerprints (some of which, incidentally, may be found in the bellies of alligators).

Early influences
As Floridians, our sense of place is derived from both the places we are exposed to and what we become attuned to while we are there. In Klinkenberg’s …