Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter 

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo by Tom Palmer

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) emerges in floodplain forests in most of Florida at the beginning of spring. The plant’s Latin name refers to its three prominent leaves that spread above the spathe that is the “pulpit” from which the common name (also known as Parson-in-the-Pulpit) derives.

Purple splotched spathe. Photo by Tom Palmer

The spathe ranges from green to purple. The plant also includes a cluster of red berries that ripen later in the year.

This plant is widespread, growing all over the Eastern United States and as far north as Nova Scotia. However the plant is not uniformly distributed and sometimes may be absent or infrequent in suitable habitat.

Arisaema triphyllum was once divided into two species (A. triphyllum and A. acuminatum) based on morphological differences described by Small and others. It was originally described as Arum triphyllum in 1753. Another common name is Indian turnip. The plant can be eaten as a root vegetable if it is dried and cooked. Eating the root raw can cause a “violent burning sensation,”  according to Small.  Other reports say eating the corm (fleshy taproots) raw can be fatal.

Native Americans reportedly used the plant for medicinal purposes to treat rheumatism, bronchitis and snakebites.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo by Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He has been referred to "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental." Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 

Additional links:

USF Atlas of Florida Plants: Arisaema triphyllum
FNPS Native Plants for Your Area: Arisaema triphyllum
Native Florida Wildflowers (C. Huegel) Blog: Jack-in-the_Pulpit

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reasons to Register NOW for the FNPS Conference

Submitted by Donna Bollenbach

Registration is now open for the 2017 FNPS Conference. If you know you’re going, you should register early. If you’re undecided, I'm going to try to persuade you! Consider this a sneak preview of what’s in store for you….

Reason #1: There’s Nothing Like It

South Florida Water Management Photo of Kissimmee River Restoration
Florida Native Plant Society President, Catherine Bowman sums it up: There is nothing like it:  You will be in a place of awe inspiring, thought provoking, energizing beauty in the heart of Florida.  The Kissimmee River and Everglades Restoration Areas will extend before you to the south, as the headwaters of the St. Johns River, with its restoration projects and recreational opportunities, flow to the north.  River Ranch, once a cattle trail stop, then a dude ranch, is now a comfortable resort in this rustic, history-rich part of Florida. From River Ranch, the Florida Trail will take you down to KICCO (for Kissimmee Island Cattle Company), now a ghost town with just a few sidewalks but lots of stories remaining.  From this central location, large diverse tracts of public conservation lands spread in all directions.  Field trips will guide you through these homes to threatened, endangered, and endemic plants and animals.  You will have opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from our honored guests as well as the naturalists, explorers, scientists, and educators who are among our FNPS family.  As we will learn about plant connections, we will learn more about our own connections with plant communities and with those who share our concern for native plants, their natural communities and the expanding areas where we are bringing them back to help heal our developed environments.  Come be surprised and be connected!

Reason #2: The Theme, Speakers & Presentations

The theme of the 37th Annual Conference of the Florida Native Plant Society is Connections: Above & Below. It will be held in the heart of Florida, and central to the largest river restoration project in the world! Many of our speakers and fieldtrips will address this restoration, what has already been done, and the challenges we face going forward. Whether your interest is promoting greenways, protecting waterways, or bringing a sense of place to your home landscape, you will leave with a better understanding where we are, where we need to be, and how you can help get it done.  See the preliminary schedule and read about all our great speakers, and presentation topics here.

Reason #3: The Field Trips & Workshops

On both Thursday May 18 and Sunday May 21 – you can choose from 20 field trips that match your interest and physical ability; from buggy rides to pontoon boats to strolling and hiking. Both full and half-day excursions are offered. Early registration increases your chance of getting your top choice of field trips! We will have trips that will let people see good land management practices and environmental stewardship on some of our working agricultural lands. These trips fill quickly—many will sell out! Register and choose your fieldtrips today.
Disney Wilderness Preserve, photo by Abel Valdivia
In lieu of a field trip, you can opt to learn something new or sharpen a skill by taking a workshop: FNPS conference photographer and Florida master naturalist, Vince Lamb, will be holding a Florida Wildflower Photography Workshop at Lake Kissimmee State Park. Palmetto editor and artist, Marjorie Shropshire, will teach Nature Journaling on and off the Trail, and James Stevenson, Extension Specialist in Pinellas County, will lead a class on Introduction to Plant ID.

Reason #4: The People

There’s something for everyone at the FNPS Conference:  Scholars, perpetual students, backyard naturalists, land managers, scientists, landscapers, butterfly enthusiasts, foresters, gardeners, outdoor lovers, and kids of all ages. The diversity of people and professions offer points of view that create a lively exchange of ideas in the sessions, halls, and socials. 

Janet Bowers, from Suncoast Chapter, supports that view: “I have attended the conference every year since the 2012 conference in Plant City. You never know who you will meet and are sure to find friends at the conferences.  It could be the conversation with a person you just met, or a new book about plants with the author who created it.  Come for the day, or come for the whole time, and experience a FNPS conference for yourself!”

Reason #5: The Venue

Our venue, the Westgate River Ranch Resort, is an upscale dude ranch in the heart of rural Florida, just south of SR 60 and south of Lake Kissimmee. Its unique character offers a variety of lodgings to fit every budget: Basic and deluxe guestroom suites, glamping (luxurious air-conditioned tents), RV and tent sites. Rooms are filling fast, so visit the FNPS conference website to Make Your Reservation Now.

How to Register and Reserve Your Room:

For Conference Registration: Register online before May 10, 2017 for the best rates. Use the appropriate link for your attendance type: Attendees/Vendors/Exhibitors, or Speakers/Landscape Award Winners (Conference Volunteers will be sent a separate link to register.)

 Online registration ends on May 11.  Registration will close between May 11-16, 2017. Onsite registration will open May 17, 2017 at 5:00pm and registration rates will increase by $25.00/day. 

For Conference Lodging:  Make sure you get the room you want and the special conference hotel rate by reserving your room now! Call 1-877-502-7058.  Please be sure to use FNPS Group Code (61-528) when making individual reservations.  The Resort’s Call Center’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8am to 12am, Saturday from 9am to 8pm and Sunday from 10am-6pm. These hours are subject to change

What are You Waiting For?  Register Today!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Venus Looking-Glass

Triodanis perfoliata 
Bellflower Family (Campanulaceae)

Photo and text submitted by Roger L. Hammer, Dade Chapter

Venus’ looking-glass is a native herbaceous annual with hairy, ribbed stems and ovate to elliptic, alternate, clasping leaves that reach about ⅜"–¾" long. The axillary, sessile, 5-lobed flowers measure about ⅜" across. 

Look for this species from February into May, mostly along roadsides and other disturbed sites through the Florida panhandle, across the northern peninsula, and south in the peninsula to Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hardee, Polk, Osceola, and Volusia counties. Globally it ranges from Argentina northward throughout the United States into British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

Native Americans made a tea of the roots and leaves to help relieve indigestion and also “to make one sick all day” as a treatment for overeating. The leaves were also smoked during ceremonies.  
Triodanis means “three-toothed” and possibly relates to the 3 calyx lobes on some flowers or the pores on the capsules. The name perfoliata refers to the stems that seemingly perforate the leaves. Belgium-born botanist and reverend Julius Arthur Nieuwland (1878–1936) placed it in the genus Triodanis in 1914. The common name alludes to the shiny seeds that resemble a looking glass, or tiny mirrors. Bees and small butterflies visit the flowers while buntings, goldfinches, and sparrows eat the seeds. One other species in Florida, Triodanis biflora, ranges discontinuously across the panhandle south in the peninsula as far as Highlands County

Roger is a member of the FNPS Dade Chapter and is currently working on a new Falcon Guide titled Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowersdue to be released in Spring 2018. His other wildflower guides include FloridaKeys Wildflowers (2004), Everglades Wildflowers (2nd edition,2014), and Central Florida Wildflowers (2016).

Other Links: 
USF Plant Atlas: Triodanis perfoliata

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Florida Greeneyes

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

Lobed basal leaves and hairy stems, photo by Jean Evoy

There are a lot of plants that say “spring”, but one of my favorites is the endemic Florida Greeneyes, Berlandiera subacaulis, named for Jean-Louis Berlandier, a Swiss Physician who collected plants in the early 1800s.

Greeneyes, photo by Jean Evoy
Seedhead of the Greeneyes
photo by Jean Evoy

This drought tolerant plant grows throughout most of the Florida peninsula in sandhills, dry flatwoods, and disturbed sites in acid to neutral sandy or loamy soils.  The related Soft Greeneyes, Berlandiera pumila, grows in  the Florida panhandle and south to Marion and Volusia Counties.

Greeneyes flowers are a common sight along roadsides in central Florida. This short-lived perennial can be grown from root division or seeds that are quite easy to collect.  You may also find plants at native plant sales or nurseries.

Greeneyes plants have a deep taproot and hairy stems that may grow up to 20 inches tall.  The basal leaves are usually lobed and the flowers grow on long terminal stalks.

The bright yellow flowers are attractive to bees, wasps and  butterflies. Photo by Jean Evoy.

Other Links:
FNPS, Native Plants for your Area: Greeneyes
USF Plant Atlas: Berlandiera subcaulis

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why Sponsor the 

Florida Native Plant Society Conference?

Submitted by Andy Taylor
FNPS Development Director

It is almost time for the 37th annual FNPS conference! You may have been asked to be a sponsor of the conference, but why? What are the benefits for the sponsor?

First, the FNPS annual conference is a premier event on the calendar for Florida’s conservation and environmental community.  People from all walks of life will be in attendance, from homeowners and scientists, to government agencies and environmental professionals to other not for profit organizations. As sponsor you will be connected to a statewide network of environmental advocates. 

This year's conference is being held in the heart of Florida, and central to the largest river restoration project in the world! Our speakers are renowned leaders in the environmental community, both nationally and internationally.

The Florida Native Plant Society is acknowledged by like-minded environmental groups to be a highly effective, science-based conservation organization, and was chosen as the Conservation Organization of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation. The Federation chose FNPS because of the high quality conservation work conducted by the organization year after year. As a sponsor you will be recognized for helping our organization to continue to provide quality conservation work in Florida.

There are a wide range of options to participate as a sponsor in our annual conference at the level that works best for you. The levels start as low as $50 making it easy for individual or small companies to help contribute to the success of the conference while being recognized online and in the program.  
Is your organization bringing several people to the conference already? You can sponsor at a higher level to include conference registrations and be recognized with your logo placed in a larger ad in the conference program and on the FNPS website. 

Do you want to go further and have a representative on site to discuss what you do with conference attendees?  FNPS has sponsor levels that include exhibitor tables to make sure your organization has that access PLUS still being seen in the conference program.

We have now made it more convenient than ever to support the FNPS annual conference by accepting payments online.  You can click here to see our sponsor packages and pay online.  For any questions about sponsorship, please contact FNPS Development Director Andy Taylor at or 813-416-6880.

The FNPS annual conference is THE place to be for Florida’s environmental community and we hope you will join us in supporting the conference. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday’s Wildflower: American White Water Lily

Nymphaea odorata
Submitted by Lynn Sweetay, Palm Beach Chapter

White Water Lilies, Linda Sweetay, Palm Beach County 

One of my very favorite wild flowers is Nymphaea odorata, commonly known as the American White Water Lily.  As the name suggests this is a floating aquatic plant (Nymphaea = water sprite; odorata =fragrance) with large, fragrant, white or pink flowers and flat, round, floating leaves. 

The leaves are bright green above and purplish beneath.  It is native to Eastern North America from Florida to Canada.  It can be found in still shallow water (5-7 ft deep) with mucky bottoms.

The flowers open in the morning and remain open until around noon.  There is one flower to a stem, each flower is 2 to 6 inches wide with many rows of white petals.  Petals are ¾ to 4 inches long and pointed at the tip. There can be more than 25 petals to one flower!

White Water Lilies, Linda Sweetay, Palm Beach County 

The abundant pollen of the flowers attracts small bees (mainly Halictid), various flies, and beetles Turtles also feed on the leaves, petioles, and fruits/seeds of water lilies, as well as muskrats and deer.

It can be easily grown in a water garden or pond. I like the look of it floating among the small cypress trees at Sand Hill Crane Park in Palm Beach Gardens.

This plant flowers from February to November, or almost all year!

White Water Lilies, Linda Sweetay, Palm Beach County 

Family: Nymphaeaceae

USF Plant Atlas: Nymphaea odorata

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Blackberries

Native Blackberries, Rubus spp. 
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter

Blackberry Flower, Rubus spp. Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter

The lovely white blooms of Florida’s various species of native blackberries (Rubus sp.) in late winter and early spring offer plenty of food for wildlife ranging from Florida black bears to songbirds in late spring.

Bee visiting a Dewberry Flower,
Photo by Donna Bollenbach
The flowers attract bees and other pollinators.

Wild Blackberries
photo by Donna Bollenbach
Blackberries are common in dense thorny patches along roadsides and in natural areas throughout north and central Florida. The fruit is composed of drupelets that vary in the sizes of the drupelets and the size of the fruits. Although fruiting in central Florida typically occurs in late May or early June, I have observed some fruiting as early as late March.

For people, the flowers offer the promise of cobblers and pies at Fourth of July picnics.

Any blackberries you harvest can be eaten fresh or frozen for later use in pies or cobblers and processed to make jams or jellies.

Here’s a recipe for blackberry cobbler from Farm Journal’s Pie Cookbook
Blackberry Pie, courtesy of Wikipedia
  1. Put the berries in a 10 x 6 x 2 cooking dish. 
  2. Mix 1 cup of boiling water with 1 cup of sugar and one tablespoon of cornstarch and pour the mixture over the berries.
  3. Cover the berries with soft dough.
  4. Sift 1 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1-1/2  teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cut in ¼  cup of shortening until the mixture resembles cornmeal.. Stir in ½ cup of milk and spread the mixture over the fruit.
  5. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. 


In addition to the native species of blackberries, a number of commercial cultivars have been developed to provide larger berries at Florida farms. Some farmers offer U-pick opportunities to the public. 

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He is  rightly described "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental. And it's not just a work thing. Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. Some of that community involvement arises through his volunteer work with the Ridge Rangers and for the Great American Cleanup." We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 

More Florida Native Blackberry facts: 

Dewberry blossom,
photo by Donna Bollenbach
Family: Rosaceae
Native Species: Rubus cunefolius,  Sand blackberry; Rubus pensilvanicus, Sawtooth blackberry; Rubis trivialis, Southern blackberry or Dewberry
Fruits: Native blackberry fruits are smaller, but those who have eaten them will tell you they have more flavor than cultivated varieties. 
When is a berry not a berry? Answer: When it is a blackberry, a strawberry or a raspberry.  Scientifically speaking, blackberries are not true berries, but aggregate fruits, or fruits that develop from multiple ovaries of a single flower. So, what fruits are true berries? The answer might surprise you. Read more about it on