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Showing posts from July, 2012

Family Profile: The Convolvulaceae

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By Michelle Remogat and Alana Walker

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.

Characteristics
Leaves: Simple; sometimes lobed or compound
Fruit: capsule
Flower: actinomorphic, funnel-shaped corolla

Description
The Convolvulacaeae family is known as the Bindweed or Morning Glory family and is found primarily in the tropics and subtropics, but has become cosmopolitan. The family takes its name after the genus Ipomoea (Figure 1), but another 14 genera are also found in the state. In Florida, the family is home to 40 native and 27 non-native species (including varieties and subspecies). The state-listed endangered Bonamia grandiflora or Florida lady’s nightcap (Figure 2) is a member of this family.

You can recognize the Convolvulaceae by their trumpet-shaped flowers and many have a twin…

Grass-free and Deed-Restricted: An Impossible Dream?

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  by Nanette O’Hara
I hear it all the time. Folks who live in deed-restricted communities tell me they can’t remove even a blade of grass from their front yard for fear of recrimination from their evil HOAs.

But is this really the case? Probably not. I think acceptance of “non-traditional” landscapes depends largely on how you deliver your pitch, and the effort you put into making your case for an alternative to the typical turfgrass-dominated yard with a couple of scraggly palm trees and a neatly manicured hedge of shrubs along the front of the house.

State laws enacted in recent years make it clear that HOAs cannot prevent homeowners from implementing Florida-Friendly landscapes. Many homeowner associations may not be aware of this (especially if no one has bothered to inform them about it), and still more are unclear about what a “Florida Yard” looks like. They fear, understandably, a profusion of neglected yards filled with weeds, ugly bare patches or gravel. I don’t blame …

AGNET - The Palm Tree Whodunnit, Part 2

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By Laurie Sheldon
Based loosely on Robert Northrop's presentation at the 2012 FNPS Conference. (If you missed Part 1, click here.)
(Please start by playing the following video)

This is the city: Ruskin, Florida. Located on Florida’s central west coast, Ruskin occupies about 15 square miles of land in unincorporated Hillsborough County. From 1934 until the early 1950s, the major social event of the year was a Tomato Festival. We’ve stepped things up a bit since then, but we’re still something of a sleepy little town with a population of about 17,000… so when a deadly disease makes its Florida premiere in our backyard, I go to work.

Monday, December 11, 2006, 59°
I had just arrived at headquarters when I got a call from the lab Shannon and I sent tissue samples to the week before. Phil Shannon’s my partner at the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division. Our boss is Captain Crunch. My name is Sunday - Moe Sunday - I carry a badge.

8:45 A.M.
I phoned Shannon to give him the…

A request for help in locating spiderworts in Florida

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Polyploid complexes within the genus Callisia Loefl.,  section Cuthbertia (Commelinaceae)
By Iwan Molgo
Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida in Gainesville


Callisia is a genus in the Commelinaceae and is part of the 39 genera within the subfamily Commelinoideae (Burns et al., 2011). In this project, I would like to focus on Callisia section Cuthbertia, which consists of three species that are endemic to the Southeastern U.S.: C. graminea, C. ornata and C. rosea.

Giles (1942) documented that there are two types of Callisia graminea that differ in morphology, cytology and geography. One type is a diploid which occurs in the sand hills of both North and South Carolina. The other type is a tetraploid which occurs along the coastal plain from the Carolinas to Florida. Giles also found rare triploids and hexaploids within C. graminea.

My Ph.D. project will investigate the relationships between C. graminea (diploid, triploid, tetraploid and hexaploid), C. ornata (diploid) and C. rosea…

Plant Profile: Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan

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By Shannon Sardisco and Shannon Tapscott
This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.
ClassificationKingdom: PlantaeDivision: MagnoliophytaClass: MagnoliopsidaOrder: AsteralesFamily: AsteraceaeGenus:RudbeckiaSpecific epithet:hirta
DescriptionRudbeckia hirta, or black-eyed or brown-eyed Susan, is one of nine species of Rudbeckia native to Florida. As with many of the Asteraceae, the flowers are found on a head with both ray and disk flowers (Figure 1).  The ray flowers are golden yellow and as the common name suggests, the disk flowers are dark brown.  Black-eyed Susan blooms during the months of July through October, offering nectar to pollinators such as butterflies and bees. The bristly stems (Figure 1) are 1-2 feet tall, with oval leaves.
Black-eyed Susans are not only grown for their beautiful flowers. Their nectar and seeds (Figure 2) attract wildlife, and their leaves can serve as a host plant for some butterfly larvae…

AGNET - The Palm Tree Whodunnit, Part 1

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By Laurie Sheldon
Based loosely on Robert Northrop's presentation at the 2012 FNPS Conference.
(Please start by playing the following video)


This is the city: Ruskin, Florida. Located in Hillsborough County on the south shore of Tampa Bay, it has all of the charm you’d expect from a town with a population of about 17,000. Founded on the shores of the Little Manatee River, its pristine estuarine preserves, untouched natural areas, and mild winters combine to make Ruskin ideal for quiet, peaceful living… so when I get a phone call from a hysterical woman screaming about a killer on the loose, that's when I go to work.


Friday, November 24, 2006, 65°
I was on field patrol, Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division, with my partner, Phil Shannon. Our boss, Captain Crunch, was out fishing. My name is Sunday - Moe Sunday - I carry a badge.

8:45 A.M.
Our day got started in a hurry. "Lady, calm down," I said, "did you see the perpetrator?" "No - only …

Born in the U.S.A.: Myrica cerifera, Wax Myrtle

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What could be more all-American than native plants? This is the last of our Independence Day posts, in which we've featured species with red, white, or blue flowers or fruit. We hope you've enjoyed it!

By Veronica Gajownik

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

Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Family: Myricaceae
Genus:Myrica
Specific epithet:cerifera

Description
Myrica cerifera is commonly known as the southern wax myrtle or southern bayberry. It grows throughout Florida, from Key West through the panhandle, where it thrives in sandy areas, upland woods and swamps. It is also found on both the Atlantic and Gulf coast, a testament to its tolerance of salty conditions.

Its leaves are relatively narrow (Figure 1) and are composed of yellow tiny glands. They can be either gray-green or yellow-green, depending on the time of the year. Female and male flowers appear in late winter. Male flowers grow to about…

Born in the U.S.A.: Blueberries

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Happy Independence Day! What could be more all-American than native plants? We don't know.That's why we're featuring species with red, white, or blue flowers or fruit this week, so stay tuned!

By Steven W. Woodmansee, FNPS President

While shopping at my local grocery store in Kendall, I bought some blueberries to make a pie. I was surprised at how expensive they were, even when on sale ($2.50/half pint). Unaware that blueberries were grown commercially in Florida, I was even more startled when I read on the label that these were from Winter Haven (near Orlando). After thinking about it, it seemed fairly reasonable, especially given how many native species occur here. I am uncertain what species of blueberry I purchased (they were delicious), but was reminded of a blueberry which is found in almost every county in the state (Figure 1).  
Blueberries are in the heath family (Ericaceae), a temperate plant family whose species usually grow in acidic, nutrient poor, soils. Thirty…

Born in the U.S.A.: Barbed-wire cactus, Acanthocereus tetragonus

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What could be more all-American than native plants? In honor of Independence Day, we'll be featuring species with red, white, or blue flowers or fruit this week, so stay tuned!



By Daneisha Hawkins

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: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus:Acanthocereus
Specific epithet:tetragonus


Description
Barbed-wire cactus, or Acanthocereus tetragonus, is typically found along the coast from St. Lucie County southward to Lee County, including the Keys. Interestingly, the plant is not vouchered in Broward County. Of the 12 native cactus species in Florida, only two are listed as threatened - A. tetragonus is one of them. This plant is found growing in sandy, coastal hammocks.

The barbed-wire cactus gets its name from its dangerous-looking white to gray spines (Figure 1). Despite their ominous appear…