Friday, September 27, 2013

Call for Grant Applications, Research Papers and Poster Presentations


Did you know that the Florida Native Plant Society maintains grant programs for research and conservation?

Endowment Research Grants provide up to $1500 for a 1-year period to fund research that forwards the mission of the Florida Native Plant Society, "to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida." Like the Endowment Research Grants, Conservation Grants of up to $1500 are awarded for a 1-year period to support applied native plant conservation projects that promote the preservation, conservation, or restoration of rare or imperiled native plant taxa and/or communities in Florida. Proposed projects must be sponsored by a FNPS Chapter to qualify for a Conservation Grant.

Details regarding both of these grants can be found at The application deadline is March 7, 2014. Grant recipients will be announced at the F.N.P.S. Annual Conference in Fort Myers in May of 2014. Applicants are not required to be present at this event to receive a grant.

Research Papers and Poster Presentations

In addition to fabulous keynote guests, socials and field trips, the Florida Native Plant Society's Annual Conference includes both spoken and poster-format presentations of research focused on the preservation, conservation, and/or restoration of Florida's native plants and plant communities. The upcoming conference will be held May 15-18, 2014 at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. Researchers interested in presenting applicable work at this event are invited to email abstracts to Paul A. Schmalzer by February 1, 2014. These should be submitted as MS Word files, not to exceed 200 words in length, including title, affiliation, address, and whether the presentation will be delivered orally or as a poster. Oral presentations will be scheduled for Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17; researchers should be prepared to speak for approximately 15 minutes and answer questions for another 5. The poster session will take place on Saturday, May 17.
Posted by Laurie Sheldon

Friday, September 20, 2013

Invasive vs. Aggressive: They are not the same

In Florida if given a chance, Bidens alba will completely take over a disturbed area, but this doesn't mean that it's invasive. 

A polka-dotted wasp moth sipping nectar from a bidens floret.
For more information see An Exception to the Rules

Native plants are NOT invasive. 

They belong here and work well within the natural ecosystems. A pioneer plant like beggars' ticks (Bidens alba) is certainly aggressive and efficient at completely covering a disturbed site, but after a couple of years, it will give way to other plants in Mother Nature's succession parade, which  depends upon where it's found. The plants that take over could include broom sedge (Andropogon spp.), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), which then my be replaced by pines and oaks after a few years.

- An invasive exotic plant is a naturalized exotic plant that is expanding its range into natural areas and disrupting naturally occurring native plant communities.     
                         via Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council  (

Invasive plants may not be aggressive

On the other hand, as a gardener just looking at your landscape, you might not be able to determine which plants are invasive and which are not. Some relatively tame landscape plants like heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) are on the FLEPPC Category I list of invasives, while others like wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata) are aggressive in the landscape, but are only on the Category II list.

This mailbox planting of mostly nandina does not appear to be overly aggressive.

But the birds eat the berries and deposit them (with a
dollop of organic fertilizer) far beyond your yard.

Nandina domestica

You can purchase this plant in any number of big box stores and at plant sales throughout Florida, but it is invasive here.  FLEPPC has placed it on the Category I list as most invasive for all of Florida.It is also been proven to be toxic to birds.

If you have it on your property, remove it ASAP. Plant beauty berry (Callicarpa americana), one of the native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) or a shrubby holly (Ilex spp.) instead.

You can find natives grown from Florida stock at
Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) is highly invasive even though you might be able to control it
in your landscape.

Ruellia simplex

The Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) is widely sold and widely planted.  It's easy to care for and blooms throughout the season. You may be able to keep it trimmed back in your yard, but it's on the move into our natural areas. There is a variety that is sterile, but if it looks the same as the invasive type, who really knows what you're really buying?

Botanical note: R. tweediana and R. brittoniana are synonyms. See Florida's Plant Atlas

Natives to plant instead include dotted horsemint (Monarda punctata), Spanish needles (Bidens alba), and snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea).

Wedelia: the beautiful invasive

Sphagneticola trilobata

Wedelia or creeping ox-eye (Sphagneticola trilobata) can cover your whole landscape, so you might not be surprised to find that it's a Florida invasive, but it apparently has not invaded enough of our natural areas to be included in the top 76 invasives and so is classified as a Category II invasive, which is on the watch list.

Creeping natives for Florida include dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis), railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae), and sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa).
Wedelia can cover your whole landscape and invade your lawn.

A long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus) on a Bidens alba.

What can you do about invasives?

The problem with invasives is that their infestations will continue to grow unless we all act.  Remove invasives from your yard, don’t purchase them, and complain to the store management when you see invasives for sale.  Be part of the solution.  Don't be part of the problem.  When creating the priority list of what to in your landscape, removing invasive plants needs to be at the top of the list.

Meanwhile, enjoy the parade of pollinators on your natives including the aggressive, but not invasive, Spanish needles (B. alba). 

Hold still! A gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) enjoys a drink.

A honey bee (Apis spp.) stops by.

A Eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) hunts for prey.
For more info see, Attracting Damsels and Dragons
For more on invasives here is a group of FNPS posts by various authors, which cover a variety of topics:
Invasive vs. Aggressive... Part 1
Invasive Exotic plants
Invasive Species Week Feb 26th to March 4th
Removing Invasives in Mandarin a team effort
Mexican Petunia: a Plant Gone Rogue 
Good Plants Gone Bad
Australian Pine: One of Florida's Least Wanted

This is only about half of the posts on this topic posted on this blog since 2010. We are serious about educating you, and anyone you talk to, about how important this is. There are still people who argue, "Well it's not invasive in MY yard, so it's okay." 

Well, it's not okay and we are spending millions of dollars (both private and public) to fight this problem.  Again: DON'T BE PART OF THE PROBLEM! PLANT NATIVES!

Post and photos by Ginny Stibolt

Friday, September 13, 2013

Florida is Fabulous in the Fall: Get out and enjoy it!

The zebra longwing is a fall favorite throughout the state.

Fall is THE best time to enjoy Florida's natural areas.

The weather is cooler, the mosquitoes are fewer, and there are plenty of plants and animals to see in the fall.

Visit a bunch of Florida's state parks this fall. Your use and support will help financially and it will also help the parks to make their case to the state that they are worth saving.  You'll be voting with your dollars. And you'll be in the midst of "The Real Florida!" What could be better?
Find an FNPS chapter near you and join it--TODAY!

FNPS Chapters

If you're not a Florida Native Plant Society member, now is a great time to find a chapter. Fall is the beginning of their programs and field trips. There are 37 chapters across the state. Find your local chapter on our website

Many people appreciate the fine work our native plant society does for Florida and her ecosystems, but for some reason have not joined.  Now is the time to do so, because Florida needs you now.

The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.

Many FNPS chapters host native plant sales. There is always a plant sale at the conference.

FNPS members are knowledgeable and friendly.

Learn stuff!

Go on field trips to see some of the best parts of Florida.

Find hidden beauty in every ecosystem

Grow native plants in your own yard. Start with and easy-to-grow
blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella).

Learn stuff at FNPS Chapter meetings and at conferences. Dr. Jaret Daniels is an excellent speaker.

Learn to identify invasive plants and participate in work days to remove
 them from wild lands and parks. This is coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata).
See the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council website for more info on invasives..

A field trip with botanist Gil Nelson is always educational!

Learn how to make a wreath!

So what are you waiting for?

Join FNPS and there is no better time than today. Then become an active member to really help Florida with boots-on-the-ground activities.

Florida and her ecosystems will thank you!

 Posted by Ginny Stibolt, member since 2006!