Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kayaking in NE Florida

String lilies are common in Florida's wetlands.

Several kayaking field trips are offered as part of the program for the FNPS conference in May in Jacksonville. This one, about the Kayak Amelia Island, could apply to most of the others. Space is limited for the field trips so register sooner, rather than later, to reserve your spot.

By Kat McConnel

Northeast Florida has its share of valuable and beautiful tidal marshes; there are numerous meadows of brackish and freshwater marsh vegetation. As marshes are best observed from the water, paddling provides the best opportunity to access this overlooked aquatic natural community.

Spartina grasses intercept the waves at the shoreline.
Between high and low marsh, inches, not feet, cause a dramatic difference in vegetation community composition. Low salt marshes are regularly flooded on each high tide typically dominated by salt marsh cordgrass, (Spartina alterniflora). Other salt marsh plant species, such as needlerush (Juncus romerianus) cannot tolerate as wet a habitat, so they grow in slightly higher elevations along the fringe of waterways. Although salt marsh cordgrass is the dominant species found in low tidal saltwater marshes, other species share this habitat. Within slight depressions, a perennial herb called sea lavender, or marsh rosemary (Limonium carolinianum), grows along the upper edges of low marshes. It is a small to medium-size plant that grows up to 3-ft and is characterized by a basal rosette of leathery, fleshy leaves between 2 to 10 inches long. The tiny (1/8 inch wide) bluish flowers bloom from midsummer through early autumn. Dense populations of blooming sea lavender plants produce a hazy, almost ethereal mist of lavender. Saltmarsh morning glory (Ipomoea sagittata) is a low-growing twining vine confined to maritime marshes and interdunal swales. The leaves are alternate, 1 ¼ -in to 4 in long, narrowly 3-lobed, and well-spaced along the stem. The funnel-shaped flowers are 2 ½ -in to 4 in long and pink to rose-purple with a darkened center and flaring apex.

An egret behind a fringe of rushes.
Tidal freshwater marshes grow inland from the sea and up coastal streams, including Simpson Creek, where the waters grade from slightly brackish to mostly fresh. As salinity decreases, plant and animal diversity increases; many more species of plants and animals are found in tidal freshwater marshes than in saltwater marshes. Upper reaches of tidal influenced rivers are lined with narrow fringes of marsh containing many plant species. Color abounds with the blooms of blue flag iris (Iris virginica) growing in the shallows along the shore. Spatterdocks (Nuphar lutea) bear bright yellow globular flowers on large green leaves that float on the surface of the water. The white, fragrant water-lily, Nymphea odorata, also with large floating rounded leaves, is a plant of slow-flowing tidal freshwater ponds and shallow lakes. Golden nutlets of sedges (Cyperus spp) and the brown, sausage-like heads of cattails (Typha spp) contrast with the dazzling white of swamp lily (Crinum americanum) and bull-tongue (Sagittaria lanceolata) along with the vibrant purple of pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata).

With such a high quality of habitat comes a rich diversity of animals: small fishes come into the marsh streams on a flood tide, hiding and feeding on insects and other small invertebrates in the vegetation along the edges. Marsh rabbits feed on the rushes and, in turn, become food for raptors, alligators and snakes. Great blue herons, roseate spoonbills, various egrets, and ibis regularly comb the grasses and rushes. Tidal estuaries provide abundant opportunity to observe wildlife within a diverse plant community.

If you'd like to register for the conference and for one of our kayaking field trips got to Thanks.

Join your FNPS friends-old and new-on a kayaking field trip in May.

Thanks Kat for this highlight of the NE Florida waterways.
Posted by and photos by Ginny Stibolt.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"The Palmetto:" the FNPS magazine. Part 2

Hartley Press in Jacksonville, FL
In the first post about The Palmetto, we talked about the process that editor Marjorie Shropshire goes through to put the magazine together. We left off with the process of Marjorie's sending the file of the designed publication to the printer. Now we'll talk about what happens then.

The printing company is Hartley Press, a family owned company in Jacksonville, FL. They have been printing and mailing out the Palmetto magazines in full color for FNPS since Marjorie become the editor and designer in 2006. The previous rendition of The Palmetto included only partial color on slick paper, which was a step up from the first Palmettos. Those were printed in black and white on rough newsprint type paper. While the content has always been good as you can see on our Palmetto archive page on the FNPS website, we've come a long way over the years.

I took a tour of the facilities at Hartley Press a few weeks ago to learn more about how The Palmetto is produced.
Annette Watson, the FNPS rep explains that they keep the proofs
of each job for the last few years in this hallway.

Annette Watson, the FNPS representative, was my tour guide. One of our first stops was the room where they keep the proofs of print jobs for future reference.

The Pre-Press Process

So once Hartley Press receives Marjorie's file of the Palmetto in its formatted layout, the pre-press staff prints out both a reader proof and a high resolution proof and mails them back to her so she can see how the layout works on paper. The reader proof is a full mockup of the magazine printed in half tones on lightweight paper all trimmed and stapled together. The high-resolution proof is printed on single sheets heavyweight glossy paper.

At this point Marjorie makes more corrections and adjustments as needed on the proofs and also uses the high resolution proof to check out the colors against the Pantone™ Matching System so the printer knows exactly what color she is looking for so the pre-press staff can match it exactly.

After the corrections are made, they create a new set of proofs--called re-proofs--and sends them again to Marjorie. Also some corrections and adjustments are made electronically via PDF files and the like.
Using the light table to examine the proofs.

Two different proofs of the same page. The page on the left is the first proof and Marjorie has marked it to take out the top headline in the center box. On the right (on the re-proof), the headline has been removed and the other corrections have been made, but there is still more to be done. The proofs are important because seeing everything on paper changes your perspective.
Two proofs of the same page. The devil is in the details! The correction on the attached piece of paper on the left indicates that the underlining is offset by 1.5 points.
Marking up the reader proof.
Marjorie's checklist for the Palmetto.
The computerized control room for a large web press.

The Press Process

After all the corrections and adjustments are made, then our magazine is run through one of Hartley's presses and checked for quality. Once the run looks good then the final printing run is made and mail-merged with the latest FNPS membership list, which is sent from our administrative office.

The press machinery then trims, staples, folds, and bundles the Palmettos. The Hartley staff then loads the Palmetto bundles onto a pallet and takes it to the post office.
Hot off the press, a Hartley worker checks for quality.
One sheet contains eight pages--front and back.
This would be one issue of The Palmetto.
A rejected print run.
A strong vacuum system will suck up all these paper scraps and dump them into
a dumpster, which compresses and holds the paper scraps for recycling. There are
intakes for the vacuum system in many locations throughout the plant. This keeps the
paper dust levels down.
Here's a large job bundled and ready to mail.
Note the brown folder on the top ready to be filed.
I hope you have enjoyed this behind-the-scenes tour of the making of the FNPS Palmetto magazine. Thanks to Annette Watson at Hartley Press for her hospitality. And of course, thanks to Marjorie for all her hard work to make The Palmetto a quality magazine that speaks well for the Florida Native Plant Society!

Written and posted by Ginny Stibolt.
All photos are by Ginny Stibolt

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"The Palmetto:" the FNPS magazine

Marjorie Shropshire
Photo by Anne Cox
Marjorie Shropshire is an FNPS behind-the-scenes treasure! She's a longtime FNPS member, and since 2005, she's the one who puts together our slick little magazine filled with science, plant highlights, gardening, and more. While it's only sixteen pages, it is crammed full with useful and interesting content and it's a lot of work to put it together.

This particular issue from last year, with Dick Workman's instructions on how to make a basket out of one palmetto leaf, sparked a flurry of activity after it was posted on the FNPS Facebook page. It was shared more than 100 times and several people joined FNPS right then so they could receive this issue of the magazine with their new membership package. And now Dick will be running a hands-on workshop at the upcoming conference. It's limited to 25 people, so if you wish to join in, register today, because the workshop is filling up.

Building a magazine

Here's a rough outline of the process:
1) She gathers the articles, which could be four pages, two pages, or one page. In each issue she tries to include a research article, which could be from the FNPS research grant winners, regional professors or other researchers. Then she includes a general interest article covering some aspect of native plants and maybe the wildlife that depend on the natives. Sometimes she includes a report of the landscape award winners, conference previews or highlights, and other FNPS-related topics such as land management reviews. Other pieces include book reviews, how-to's, or general gardening topics. Getting people to write the articles is the most difficult and time-consuming task. Marjorie even goes to science-oriented conferences to find topics and meet up with people who might have something interesting to write.
Marjorie at her desk outfitted with two networked Apple computers. A third
computer goes with her when she travels.

2) Once she has the content, she reviews it, and if the material is appropriate for Palmetto, she sends it to the science review committee.

3) After the science review committee checks for scientific accuracy and approves the articles for publication, Marjorie edits the articles for length, style, and grammar. She then begins the design process.
The Pantone Process Color Book is used to choose accurate color
for the magazine.
4) Palmetto is built using Adobe Creative Suite applications (InDesign for page layout, Illustrator for creating charts or graphics, Photoshop and Bridge for photo editing and retouching, Acrobat for final editing and communication with the printer.)

5) After the magazine is fully edited and formatted, it is read by an outside reviewer as a final check. Only then is it ready to go to the printer

6) When she's done with the editing and formatting, Marjorie sends the file to the printer, Hartley Press in Jacksonville. They create a reader proof and a high resolution proof and mail them back to her so she can see how the layout works on paper. She sometimes makes more corrections on the pages and also uses the high resolution proof to check out the colors against the Pantone™ Matching System so the printer knows exactly what she is looking for on press. Although the printer needs to have the proofs back before proceeding, much of the final correction process is done electronically, using PDFs, e-mail, and the Internet. See Part Two on Hartley Press and what happens on their side in the next FNPS blog post.

Palmetto wish list

Marjorie's wish list for The Palmetto is to expand the magazine in size and make it more science oriented so it becomes the “go to” resource for anyone looking for information about Florida Native Plant topics.

So here's what you can do as an FNPS member to help this happen:
a) Volunteer to write some articles about your FNPS activities, a plant profile, a book review, or how to garden with natives. This wonderful magazine goes to every member and it boasts a consistently high readership among the recipients, which provides good outreach and exposure for your work. Also, if you know a researcher, graduate student, botanist, or native plant enthusiast, even if they are not an FNPS member, share The Palmetto and encourage them to contact Marjorie about writing an article.
b) Most FNPS chapters and many FNPS committees participate in outreach, services, and other events, but do you ask people directly to join? We all need to be more proactive, especially when your chapter or your committee is performing a service like invasive plant removal, river/pond clean-ups, or butterfly garden plantings. It's up to us to build FNPS membership so don't be shy, ask the people in the groups you are helping to join.

Marjorie, the artist

Marjorie uses her drafting table for her wide variety of artistic projects. The landscape outside her window, currently planted with the typical south Florida non-native garden species, is in the process of being converted to a native plant garden for birds and pollinators. At this point, it is still in the design stage.
A study in colors.
Marjorie has drawers full of her art. these are small studies done in the field.

In addition to her skills in graphic design, Marjorie is a talented artist in various media and has a map cabinet filled with her art. Also some of her treasures punctuate her home's decor such as an amazing mosaic chair.

FNPS is fortunate to have our magazine in such capable hands. It's one of our most popular membership benefits.

Written and posted by Ginny Stibolt. Photos, except where noted, are by Ginny Stibolt.

P.S. Full disclosure: I hired Marjorie to illustrate my latest book, "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida."  She did a magnificent job!

The mangrove mosaic chair, designed and tiled by Marjorie. Marjorie's line art illustrations for my book add so much.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Evolution of a Herbarium

by Travis MacClendon

L. peruviana, the FLEPPC Category I plant
that ignited my "need for names" gene.
Photo by Matthew Merritt.
What is it?
In the early '90s I walked out of my apartment in Melbourne, Fl and became transfixed by a display of gorgeous yellow flowers in the nearby shrubbery. My immediate thought was, “what are those things?!”

Let me digress. I believe that some people are born with a “need for names” gene, myself among them. I simply cannot see an unfamiliar star, beetle, or snowfall without feeling compelled to know its name. It never ceases. “What is it?” is practically my mantra. It often takes me twice as long as others to read a book or article because I am constantly accessing my smart phone to look things up using Google and/or Bing. And thank you, thank you STEM for that Droid, which has freed me of the burden of toting paper, pencil, and an unabridged dictionary.

Compulsory tools for the "name needer"
and "botanizer" in each of you.
Back to Melbourne… That afternoon I purchased Walter Kingsley Taylor's little masterpiece of 1992, “The Guide to Florida Wildflowers”.  After some discovery effort within those exciting pages, LO! There it was. I was so pleased. I had found and identified Ludwigia peruviana (Peruvian primrosewillow), a showy tropical alien. The resulting rush of adrenaline is still with me some 21 years later.

Getting Involved
One's knowledge builds. I joined the Conradina Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and eventually rose to a hectic year or two as President. For a while I was Vice President of Finance for the State, a position I held for a record setting seven years as I recall. Basically, nobody else wanted the job. I have a story to tell about all of this, but, in the interest of staying on-topic, I’ll hold back. Just ask me sometime.

Botanizing (going out into the field to find and key out plants) became a passion. I was sooooooo lucky to have the legendary Margaret Hames as my mentor, in addition to the companionship of Bill and Shirley Hills, an incomparable couple. I spent many happy hours in the great outdoors with these true experts and wonderful friends just tramping earth, making lists, and learning how to use that big book without pictures, “Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida” by Wunderlin and Hansen: first memorize the glossary, then go to page 1.

At some point, Karen (my beautiful wife) and I met the brainy Suzanne Kennedy of the Brevard County Natural Resources Department. She was the speaker at a Conradina meeting. The subject was, you guessed it, herbariums. She was starting one for the County and wanted volunteers to help collect plants. Right after the presentation, I went straight to Suzanne and said, “me, me, pick me,” or words to that effect.

Learning the Ropes
With her patient teaching and that of a talented and experienced botanical drifter named Jim Tear, Karen and I began collecting and mounting specimens for the Brevard County Herbarium. We collected three specimens of each plant, one as a voucher specimen for the University of South Florida, a “gratis” specimen for Fairchild Tropical Gardens, and one for the Brevard County Herbarium.

Proof positive of P. leucarpum in Calhoun
In the year 2005, some 320 specimens behind us, Karen and I precipitously up and moved to Calhoun County in Florida’s panhandle. One of the reasons we picked that very low density population county (more people went to Karen's church than lived in Calhoun County) was that only 800 or so plants had ever been formally vouchered there. Based on serious empirical evidence, that left maybe 400 or more plants to be discovered. And FYI, if a plant has never been formally vouchered at an accredited herbarium, science says it doesn't exist. For example, you and I know that Phoradendron leucarpum (oak mistletoe) exists all over the place, but it had never been collected in Calhoun County.

Early on, our new house hardly furnished, we asked the Director of the University of Florida’s Extension Service in Blountstown what he thought about having  his office sponsor our voluntary efforts to create a herbarium in Calhoun County.. He enthusiastically replied, “Great! Terrific!! How much money do you need? Let's do it!” Then, before I could respond, he said, “What’s a herbarium?” Anyhow, we all happily agreed to work together to make it happen, and have enjoyed a pleasant camaraderie with the folks in that office ever since, including its current Director, Judy Ludlow, and her able assistants (Peggy and Whitney).

A standard metal herbarium cabinet will ensure
that the collection outlasts the collector.
Setting Up Shop
After we’d determined we would start a herbarium, it made sense to acquire an air tight, bug tight (the curator's worst nightmare), humidity-controlled (if possible), rain, fungus, wind, and ungulate proof storage unit for our collections - in short, a herbarium cabinet. At the time, all we had was an old wooden cabinet (not so hot for a plant collection… we keep supplies in it now) so we had to spring for a bona fide herbarium cabinet, all 1000 pounds of it at about $1.50 a pound (includes shipping).

Then there was the issue of supplies. We rounded up what we had access to locally, and purchased the remainder of what we needed from on-line biological supply houses. Once our order arrived, we were in business. Our inventory included:
Plant press with press straps
  • Plant press , 12” x 18”– eventually ended up with 3
  • Plant press straps, 2 per press
  • Plant press ventilators, 12 x 18, maybe 8 dozen
  • Plant press driers, 12 x 18, several dozen
  • Unprinted newsprint, 12 x 17 when folded, several dozen
  • Polyurethane foam, 12 x 18, several for pressing mean plants
  • Rag Mounting Cards, 11.5 x 16.5, several dozen
  • Fragment folders, 2.25 x 3.5 several dozen
  • Printed label paper, 8.5 x 11, 100 or so
  • Botanical glue
  • Gummed cloth tape, 0.5 inch, 200 yards, 1 roll
  • Drione insecticide dust for use against the horrors
  • Moth balls for use against the horrors
  • Desiccant for use against the insidious fungus
  • GPS (my Droid) –  calculate lat longs to WGS 1984 Spheroid for each specimen
  • Clipboard, data form for labels etc for field work
  • Plastic bags, trowels, clippers etc for collecting specimen
  • Binoculars (optional – good for birds)
As you may imagine, we developed different techniques for preparing, mounting, and collecting specimens as we became more experienced. These advanced approaches were ultimately facilitated with the use of a paper cutter and a loupe (hand lens, shown left).

Dr. Loran Anderson, Travis and Karen
MacClendon out collecting specimens.
Modus Operandi
Allow me to briefly itemize the process through which our plant specimens are prepared:
  1. Collect two (sometimes three) representative samples of foliage, preferably with fruit and/or flower. Usually the plant is not harmed. Acceptable specimens are limited to vascular plants (no bryophytes, fungi, or gremlins) found growing free and wild. Items found growing in a nursery pot at the local hardware store do not qualify, regardless of how neglected they are.
  2. Place the specimen between folded newsprint between 2 driers which are between 2 ventilators, and then into the press. For thorny, stout, or unbending plants use foam to assist in taming their “meanness” (plant characteristic as described by Dr. Loran Anderson ). Tighten plant press straps to flatten the specimens with just about all the strength you can muster. I can generally get between 12 and 15 specimens in one press - maybe more, but Karen won’t allow it, and if she catches me I’m in trouble.
  3. Dry specimens until crispy. During the summer, our barn can reach well over 100°F, so one week with the fan is usually enough. During the cooler winter months, this part takes a bit longer. And don't get me started on how to dry cactus.
  4. Mount one dried specimen artfully on a museum grade (acid-free) mounting card, along with appropriate label, accession number, and fragment folder.
  5. Concurrent with the curing and mounting process, create a line item in a database for the specimen. Our database has 15 fields, including items like scientific and common name, citation, latitude and longitude of where the specimen was collected, description of the plant and habitat, whether it is native or alien, et cetera.
  6. From the database, create labels for the specimen(s) recipient(s). We have up to three recipients: our own herbarium (Calhoun County Herbarium), a voucher specimen to the University of South Florida Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, and the Godfrey Museum of Florida State University.
  7. Mail one unmounted specimen, label included, to USF.
  8. If the specimen has never been collected in Calhoun County, give one unmounted specimen, label included, to Dr. Loran Anderson of FSU.
  9. Take a high resolution photograph of the mounted specimen for loading onto the Calhoun County Herbarium website.
His and Her Chores
There is a certain division of labor that has evolved between Karen and I:
  • Karen collects the specimens and places them in collecting bags.
  • I record data and get the GPS coordinates for each specimen.
  • Both of us sort collected specimens, make appropriate notations, and place them in the dryer (a table in front of a fan).
  • I enter all data into the database, create labels and accession numbers.
  • Karen mounts each specimen when it is dry with its corresponding data and accession number labels.
  • I create a cover letter and list of specimens attached (along with their unique specimen numbers) for mailing to USF.
  • I file the mounted and photographed specimens alphabetically by family, genus, and species in our Herbarium. Karen doesn't like to mess with these because of the herbicide/moth ball business.
  • We both give Dr. Loran Anderson appropriate specimens at meetings of the Magnolia Chapter of the FNPS or on botanizing outings.
Karen MacClendon (left) watching and learning from Dr. George Wilder (center),
and Dr. Loran Anderson (right). All of them have made significant contributions
to to the Calhoun County Herbarium. (Thanks!).
The Calhoun County Herbarium would most certainly be something less than it is without the happy and able assistance of Dr. Loran Anderson of Tallahassee, Bill and Marcia Boothe of Bristol, Fl., and Dr. George Wilder of Naples, Fl. They know plants!!

Travis and Karen
That's about it. I could wax on and on but this gives you an idea. It is truly a labor of love. We get out in the countryside all over Calhoun County. It keeps us active. We've made many new landowner-type friends and perhaps encountered only 1 or 2 edgy types. Then there was that guard at the water plant who thought we were saboteurs…

Does your county have a herbarium? No? Then create one. It has most certainly been a satisfying, fun, and useful hobby for us. Still not sure how? No problem. Come up for a visit, go collecting, take our $2 herbarium tour, then eat cake (byoc).
Edited and posted by Laurie Sheldon

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Film premier: Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition Documentary

The Wildlife Corridor
By Ed Murawski, FNPS Heartland Chapter

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okefenokee Documentary Film 

On Sunday March 3, 2013, the Heartland Chapter attended the Tampa premiere of the documentary film, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okefenokee, produced by Elam Stoltzfus. This film documented the 100 day, 1,000 mile trek across the state of Florida from the southern edge of the Everglades to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge at the Florida-Georgia border. The journey was documented by photographer Carlton Ward Jr., filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus, conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, and bear biologist Joe Guthrie. The expedition team hiked, paddled, and rode horseback along their journey.

The premier took place at the Cotanchobee Park next to the Tampa Bay History Center.  Over 500 attendees braved the very cold and windy conditions to be the first to see this wonderful film.  I have to say, we just about froze solid, but it was well worth it.  The event also had several exhibit booths on display prior to the showing including a display of Carlton Ward Jr.’s photographs from the journey, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with information on recreational hunting and fishing, an animal exhibit from the Lowry Park Zoo, and exhibits on bears, panthers, and other Florida wildlife. 

The Expedition

This expedition was the centerpiece of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Initiative. The Initiative’s goal is to bring awareness of the need to establish a corridor from the Everglades to Georgia for the greater health of our watersheds, wildlife, and our citizens. The Initiative’s expedition documented the fragmented landscapes and watersheds throughout Florida, but also pointed out that while fragmented, a corridor does still have the potential to exist. The Initiative goals also include sustainability initiatives for the cultural heritage of our working farms and ranches that are critical to completing this corridor.

For me, the most compelling moment in the film was when the expedition team crossed Interstate 4 near the State Road 44 interchange. Interstate 4 does not have any truly established wildlife corridors and is in need of appropriate hydrological connections. These considerations are being reviewed and hopefully this expedition will drive this forward.

Some of the wildlife displays at the premier event.
The Initiative intends to bring awareness to the need to create, restore, and protect a wildlife corridor across our state through a public outreach program. You may have been aware of this Initiative and expedition through their social media campaign including their website, Facebook page, and/or Twitter account. I first heard of the expedition through a news story on National Public Radio.

Anna, Ed's daughter, had a chance to look wildlife in the eye.

A bear scull is compelling for sure.


Many organizations sponsored and endorsed the expedition, including the Florida Native Plant Society state organization and many of the local chapters. Please do not let the expedition teams work fall to the roadside; get out there and continue to support their work and share this information with your friends and family and most of all get out and enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes our great state has to offer.

You might be fortunate to see some of our wonderful wildlife, but I assure you that you will also find some of the most beautiful plants found nowhere else on Earth. WUSF Public Television, Channel 16 will premiere the film on March 28th, which will be followed by showings on other public television stations around Florida and around the country (dates to be announced).

It was a chilly evening in Tampa.

For More Information Visit: 

Home page:

Thanks to Ed Murawski of the Heartland FNPS chapter for his report of this event. Does your chapter have activities that could be reported here, too? Send the document and photo files to
Ginny Stibolt