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The endangered Florida Torreya tree struggles along Apalachicola ravines

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by Lilly Anderson-Messec, Director of North Florida Programs and TorreyaKeepers Coordinator. Originally published in the Tallahassee Democrat November 11, 2021 ( link ) The large female Torreya cones take 18 months to mature and female tree of reproductive are extremely rare. Nestled in the unique and biodiverse steephead ravines along the mighty Apalachicola River, an evergreen tree found nowhere else in the world teeters on the brink of extinction. Since European colonization, Torreya taxifolia has been known by many names; Florida Torreya, stinking cedar, Florida nutmeg, polecat wood, fetid yew, and gopherwood. Many of these refer to the tree’s pungent odor when the leaves are bruised, or the wood is cut. To me, the scent is similar to the aroma of tomato plants but much more concentrated. Its Latin name honors New York botanist John Torrey, who first acknowledged it as a new species based on samples sent in 1833 from Florida. At that time, Florida Torreya was a standard component o

Kirsten Sharp-Ortega's Pollinator in a Pot - Update

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 In August I visited landscape architect and small business owner Kirsten Sharp-Ortega at her home to film her creating three pollinator gardens in a pot for our Lunch and Learn series. Since filming and the airing of the Lunch and Learn (which you can view here ) the pots have been happily growing for three months. For higher resolution images, check out the Flickr album .

A Tribute to Richard Turk Poole

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Richard Poole was one of the original members of the Florida Native Plant Society’s Cuplet Fern Chapter , established in 2010. His longtime experience in plant and bird biology led to his love for propagating native plants, making bird boxes, and sharing his knowledge of plants and bird life in Florida. At our monthly meetings, Richard would bring a variety of plants for members to take home. He would explain how the plants would grow and support Florida birds, insects, and butterflies, which would encourage more backyard birdlife. At every plant sale, he would display his posters featuring bird migration patterns and local bird nesting. Children and adults alike enjoyed the wonderful photos of young nesting birds. Richard always had several homemade bird boxes to take home. He would explain how certain native plants were food sources for birds and encourage people to add them to their butterfly gardens. Richard was passionate in promoting how the relationship between bird biology and

In Memory of Allen Wise, Sumter Chapter

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Left to Right - Ruth & Dean Leferink, Allen, Diane Reppert & Sandi Wise. Allen Wise ran Shady Oaks Gather All, an old-style roadside plant nursery on Highway 301 in Sumterville where he offered a mix of native, edible and Florida-friendly plants. His many loyal customers will continue to remember what he taught them about the plants that he nurtured. By making Florida native plants available to homeowners, Allen was a wonderful advocate for attracting pollinators and supporting butterflies in home landscapes. While volunteering as a Sumter County Master Gardener, Allen annually put together a native plant exhibit at the Sumter County Fair. He was always eager to donate his time at native plant shows and for 20 years was a faithful member of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries ( FANN ). He was a founding member of, and for years served as an officer for, the Sumter County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society ( FNPS ), which disbanded soon after Allen found he had

Action Alert - This is “make it or break it” time for restoration of the Ocklawaha River!

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We’ve never been so close to success in a decades-long effort to restore the Ocklawaha River and 15,000 acres of floodplain forest that were lost or damaged when the river was dammed in 1968 as part of the disastrous Cross Florida Barge Canal project. FNPS is one of 60 organizations that comprise the Free the Ocklawaha Coalition, and this is the make-it-or-break-it moment when we need to show the Governor, Legislature and FDEP that citizens want to restore the Ocklawaha by breaching the Kirkpatrick Dam. The St Johns River Water Management District is coordinating an online public survey to gauge support for restoration and we are asking you to take a few moments to complete the survey and let Florida decisionmakers know you support restoration of a free-flowing Ocklawaha. A link to the survey and information to help you answer the survey questions are provided below. Even if you have never experienced the natural beauty and ecological splendor of the undisturbed, natural reaches of the

Jim Thomas, 1930-2021

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Longtime Florida Native Plant Society member, Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) founder and past president of the board, Jim Thomas died Sunday, September 19, quietly at his home in Winter Garden after a long debilitating illness. His wife of 60 years, Margaret (Ms. Peg), was with him. A fifth generation Floridian, Jim was born in November, 1930. He grew up filling his pockets full of critters as he explored the outdoors, which he loved so much. This love of nature followed Jim into his adults life, and he continued his education in biology and environmental studies receiving his B.S. from Florida State University and MS from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also attended Yale University, University of Florida, North Carolina State University, University of Puerto Rico and Rutgers University for additional graduate studies. In 1990, he settled with his family into the West Orange Community and showed us that many positive things are possible, and quality of life can b

Legislative Delegation Season 2021

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WHAT A Legislative Delegation is an office within (most) county governments and the group of state-level legislators that represent that county. This group holds public meetings once a year in the Board of County Commissioners chambers or some other public meeting place. This meeting is in the winter, between December and February. Members of the public who wish to speak must submit a completed Public Hearing Form well before the meeting, although in most cases citizens can show up and file a card on the spot to speak to the delegation. Every county in Florida has a legislative delegation, which consists quite simply of the members of the Florida Legislature that represent that county and its residents. Each of us lives in a House District and a Senate District, with the boundaries of those districts drawn so as to ensure that each of the 120 Representatives in the Florida House, and each of the 40 Senators in the Florida Senate, represents an equal number of Floridians. If you live