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Showing posts from 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Withlacoochee Noddingcap

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WITHLACOOCHEE NODDINGCAPS Triphora craigheadii Luer Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society


The fragile, succulent stem of this native orchid averages 1"–2" tall with 1–4 broadly ovate, 3/8" leaves that are dark green above and purple below. 
Flowers are about 3/16" wide and last only 2 hours in the morning. Plants often produce 2 buds that open a week apart. What this means is that you need to be standing in front of plants in bud during June and July at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning and, if you’re lucky, a flower will open. A clue to a bud opening is it stands straight up the day before if opens. Otherwise the buds are nodding. If you miss it, you’ll have one more chance the following week. If you miss that chance, then you’ll have to wait another year.
It is endemic to mesic forests of Citrus, Sumter, Hernando, Highlands, and Collier Counties and can be regarded as one of the rarest wildflowers in th…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Coastal Groundcherry

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Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis augustifolia submitted by Carol Tebay, Longleaf Pine Chapter

I spent my first winter on the Intercoastal Waterway at Big Lagoon in Escambia County getting to know some of the plants in this scrub dune habitat.  I spotted one plant I couldn't identify. Then, in April, while searching the internet to identify some tracks I’d found in the sand, I came across a list of plants that beach mice depend on for food.  I’d recently spotted one of them, the Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis angustifolia (narrow-leaved).  In this harsh, coastal environment, where I tower over many mature runner oaks, Coastal Groundcherry hugs the ground. Just the right height for a tiny beach mouse.


According to the Atlas of Florida Plants, there are ten native species of Physalis growing in Florida.   While Coastal Groundcherry seems to prefer Gulf Coast counties, at least one species of Physalis can be found in most Florida counties.

Physalis are a member of the nightshade (Solan…

Short Plants in Sun: Natives for Urban Gardens

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Submitted by Richard Brownscombe Reprinted with permission from the April newsletter of the Broward County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society 
Plants under a foot high are very useful in the urban garden. You can avoid mulch if there are enough small plants to outcompete the weeds. Short native species may be the most interesting in a landscape because they are underutilized and seldom seen. All of the species below prefer full sun and are native to Broward County. Let's jump right into looking at a few species for drier soils and then a few more for average-moisture soils.
Sun/Drier Soils We have identified four species for places in your landscape of Sun and Drier Soils. Sun means at least 6 hours including the hot midday sun. All drought-tolerant plants need water, but have evolved ways to retain it or roots to reach for it. Generally, well-drained sandy soils are suitable for these scrub species. Give them deep watering until the roots take hold. Wilting leaves or mo…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Buttonbush

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Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis

Submitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.

Every spring I anxiously await the first sign of buttonbush blossoms.  Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, thrives in swamps, sloughs, marshes and along the edges of ponds and lakes  throughout most of North American and the West Indies. Even though the flower heads don’t look anything like modern buttons, their pincushion-like structures make buttonbush an interesting and attractive addition to our Florida landscape.

Buttonbush is an understory shrub, or small tree with arching branches. It has attractive reddish-brown bark and opposite or whorled leaves.  The intriguing globular inflorescences contain numerous bisexual, sessile, white flowers. The fragrant flowers are 4-lobed, with 4 united sepals, 4 stamens and a single pistil. The styles extend beyond the flowers.  The entire inflorescences is about 3-4 ce…
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Seeing Old Friends for the Very First Time Submitted by Devon Higginbotham, Indigo Travel Company
I remember visiting the Appalachians for the first time.  It was 1971 and with my new driver’s license firmly in hand, I accepted an invite from my older sister and her girlfriend, Francie, to go camping in Vogel State Park in north Georgia.

We loaded my sister’s manual-shift ‘68 Camaro, which started life brown but had recently been painted a striking shade of Canary yellow, with all our gear and set off.  My sister decided to give me a lesson in down-shifting and though I knew how to drive a stick shift on level ground, the mountains were proving a challenge and my sister’s patience soon dissolved.  Thereafter, my sister was happy for me to simply gaze out the window from the rear seat.

Growing up in Miami, I had never witnessed the transformation of spring and, to this day, I can still recall marveling at the translucent spring leaves as they fluttered in the breeze.  It was a transfo…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Star Anise & Florida Anise

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Illicium spp., Anise
submitted by Tom Palmer, Heartland Chapter

Florida has two native species of anise that look quite different and are found in very different regions of the state. Both bloom in spring.

Star Anise


The Yellow Anise Tree/Star  Anise, Illicium parviflorum, is found in hydric hammocks in a handful of Central Florida counties from Marion to Polk. It reportedly once occurred in Georgia, but has been extirpated. While classified as endangered in Florida, it is locally common in places such as the Marion Creek Basin in northeast Polk County.The type specimen was collected in 1799 in Marion County.

Star Anise grows to be a small tree, with inconspicuous greenish-yellow bell-shaped flowers. The common name refers to the yellow star-shaped seed pods.

Florida Anise
Florida Anise, Illicium floridanum, is found in slope forests,  creek forests and similar habitats throughout the Panhandle, such as the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines in Liberty County, as well as in parts of Geor…
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EASTERN BLUESTAR Amsonia tabernaemontana Walter Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer



This perennial wildflower reaches 3' tall with smooth stems and lanceolate to elliptic leaves from 3–4" long and ¾"­–1" wide (the uppermost leaves are sessile). It can form large, multi-stemmed clumps and is easy to see when in flower. Pale blue, ¾", star-shaped flowers are in terminal clusters. Flowering season begins in March and lasts into August so look for it in the floodplain forests of the Florida panhandle east to Columbia, Alachua, and Levy Counties. It ranges across the eastern United States to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and is on its southern range extension in Florida.
Amsonia commemorates English physician John Amson (1698–1763) who moved to Virginia and was mayor of Williamsburg from 1750–1751. The name tabernaemontana honors Jacob Theodor von Bergzabern (1520–1590), who changed his name to Jakobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus (literally “tavern in th…

Conference Field Trip Follow-up: Camp Lonesome Conservation Area

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Camp Lonesome Field Trip Follow up  Submitted by Jenny Welch, Sparkleberry Chapter
If you were swayed to go on the Camp Lonesome Field Trip by Jenny's pre-conference blog, then you were one of the lucky ones. Here Jenny provides a follow up on the plants and animals observed at this very special place: 

On our way to Camp Lonesome there were two crested caracaras beside the road, and we saw turkeys with cute babies. Beautiful bright yellow meadowlarks were singing melodiously, as if to welcome us as we drove up to the gate.  A loggerhead shrike was catching breakfast in the field as we gathered to begin our hike, and blue gray gnatcatchers, northern parulas, and cardinals were calling from the trees as we started to walk.
We could tell Camp Lonesome was very dry from the ongoing drought because the gallberry had dropped their leaves and the normally wet areas were completely dry. Even drought resilient ferns were brown. But, despite the drought we could smell the aromatically sweet fr…

Wednesday's Wildflower Whitemouth Dayflower

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Commelina erecta
submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami Dade Chapter

Whitemouth Dayflower, Commelina erecta,  is a prostrate, herbaceous, perennial wildflower with very showy morning blooms which may bloom throughout the year. The flower is  quarter sized, bright blue, with two larger ear-shaped petals and a small white lower petal (the mouth).

The typical habitat for Whitemouth Dayflower is scrubs and dry upland sites. The pollination strategy is complex: The bright yellow anthers have no pollen but attract bees who are dusted by the pollen on the smaller, less visible anthers. Insects and birds will also eat the small seeds.

Commelina erecta is named for three Dutch botanist brothers, the Commelijns.  Erecta means upright.

Beryn Harty is a member of Miami-Dade Chapter FNPS as there is no current Keys chapter.  She lives full time on Ramrod Key. 

Family Name: Commelinaceae
Genus/Species: Commelina erecta
Common Name(s): Whitemouth Dayflower, Slender dayflower
Native Range: North America South thr…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Fewflower Milkweed

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Asclepias lanceolata
submitted by Lynn Sweetay, Palm Beach Chapter




A. lanceolata is tall with a herbaceous stem that does not branch.  Leaves are very narrow and lanceolate. Flowers are orange to red and yellow. Flowering occurs in early summer. It is a larval host plant for monarch and queen butterflies and a possible larval host for soldier butterflies as well as providing nectar for monarch and other butterflies and insects.

It prefers wet to moist seasonally inundated sandy soils without humus.  This plant does not tolerate salt or drought and prefers full sun and low nutrients.   I grow one on my back patio in full sun in a pot placed in a tub of water.  It is a perennial so it will die back and then reappear. It is an occasional, but widespread understory plant in open freshwater wetlands and pinelands.

The range includes Southeastern United States north to New Jersey, west to Texas and south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland.  This milkweed can be found throug…

Learn About Land Management Reviews

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The schedule for the 2017/2018 Land Management Reviews is out. Being a part of Land Management Reviews is an important part of the Florida Native Plant Society mission to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. It is also a very rewarding experience for anyone who has participated in one.

At the Florida Native Plant Society's 37th Annual Conference in Maythere will be a special field trip where you can Learn About Land Management Reviews. The site for the Thursday morning training will be Lake Kissimmee State Park. Led by Eugene Kelly and Eric Egensteine (Park Manager), this trip is designed to serve as a case study for the state’s Land Management Review process.

Participants will serve as members of a mock Land Management Review team.  We will learn about the process while visiting numerous sites within the park. We will discuss the decision-making that guides natural resource management, habitat restor…

Wednesday's Wildflower:Spanish Needle

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Spanish Needle, Bidens Alba
Submitted by Donna Bollenbach, Suncoast Chapter


Nothing attracts more butterflies and bees than a simple white flower called Bidens alba. Also called Romerillo, Beggar’s Tick, Spanish Needle or Monkey’s Lice, this Florida native wildflower is the third most reliable source of nectar for pollinators in our state. There would be many starving bees and butterflies if not for the Bidens family of flowers. More so, Bidens alba and its sister plant, Bidens pilosa, are both edible and have medicinal value. Yet, many gardeners have a love/hate relationship the plant, and some even consider it a pesky weed. Why?

The word Bidens means two-toothed, which describes the needle-like seeds that flowers in this family produce in enormous amounts.  If you walk through a patch of Bidens that have gone to seed you come out looking and feeling that you were attacked by an army of little black needles, and good luck getting them out of your clothes.  The “hitchhiker” seeds are …