Showing posts from May, 2010

Edible Native Recovers from the Frost

As I surveyed our acreage in north central Florida after the months of frost damage, I wondered if the Opuntia would make a comeback in time to flower. As I walked about, I noticed the cactus pads were flat, “deflated,” and reddish. As the weather turned warm and then hot, it looked to me as if the Opuntia was suffering all the more. And then we received a few spectacular rain storms that seemed to revive the plant from its winter shock. And now the field around our house is covered with yellow blossoms the dog is once again limping toward me holding up his paw for spine extraction.

There are more than 200 species of Opuntia, which is endemic to the western hemisphere but has naturalized worldwide. Our native species include O. humifusa, O. stricta, and the rarer O. triancanthos (tropical), O. pusilla, and O. cubensis (tropical).

Opuntia species are nourishing food for gopher tortoise that luckily lack pain receptors in their mouths. For us the effort to prepare them may outweigh the …

The first-ever Summit of Southeastern Native Plant Societies

Gene Kelly, FNPS president, says, "It really presents exciting possibilities that so many NPSs are interested in forming a coalition. I will include a more substantial summary and discussion about the Summit for the upcoming Sabal minor as my closing 'presidential' letter." Meanwhile here is a short summary he wrote for us:

"The first-ever Summit of Southeastern Native Plant Societies was a very constructive initial meeting, with participants representing the states of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

"There was complete agreement among the participants that a second Summit should be conducted in association with the Cullowhee Conference to be held in July 2011 in western North Carolina. A series of committees will be formed between now and the 2011 Summit to develop strategies or propose courses of action to address these shared issues:

1) defending and/or expanding protections for endangered plant species;
2) promo…

Horizontal Cocoplum in the Landscape

Horizontal cocoplum makes a nice replacement for turfgrass; and here are some tips for establishing and using it in the landscape which were shared by Melissa McGaughey-Moyroud of Lorax Design in Lake Worth. 

The Moyroud's yard was opened to the public earlier this spring during a native plant tour, and this is the lovely sight that greeted visitors as they got out of their cars. The cocoplum is the plant with round-y leaves draping so beautifully over the rocks. I don't know about you, but this line does it all for me. It's simple yet elegant, natural, interesting and mostly native. I asked Melissa to share some of her techniques with me, and she gave generously of her time. 
Here are a few of the things I learned. The first year is critical. Melissa emphasized that this is true for any bed that is planted to replace grass. The gardener must be vigilant in keeping the new plants happy by making sure they are well hydrated and kept free of weeds. Cocoplum must be watered fai…

Conference coverage: Friday evening at Tall Timbers Research Station

Tall Timbers Research Station was originally Henry L. Beadel's quail-hunting plantation. Beadel had no heirs, so in 1958, Tall Timbers Research Station was established. In 1990, the Red Hills Conservation Association was formed as a program of Tall Timbers to conserve working lands that are used for forestry, agricultural, and recreational hunting. It focused its conservation efforts in the Red Hills Region located between Tallahassee, Florida and Thomasville, Georgia.

The 30-year FNPS members gathered for a photo shoot. Is it a coincidence that this weekend was also the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man? I think not.

Banquet tables, decorated with copies of herbarium specimens, were set out under a spreading live oak tree. The food was great and the company was fabulous. There were two plant identification contests, an easy one and a more difficult one. We found out the next day that the winner of the more difficult contest guessed only about 50% correctly. N…

We interrupt conference coverage with an "invasives" debate...

Our friends over at GardenRant ( opened a debate on invasives today.  Here's the start of their post:

"Challenging what we think about invasive plants

"'Don't Sweat the Invasion' is the attention-getting title of a conventional-wisdom-knocking article on that we somehow missed when it was first published last year. Thankfully it was republished in Landscape Architecture Magazine, where it naturally provoked a few letters to the editor.
"The author names a few scientists who are "challenging what they consider old prejudices about 'alien' species..."

So what do you think about this discussion?  It's time to weigh in.  Florida's problems with invasive species is worse than other states as we've been finding out here at the conference.  Please share your opinions here and on Gardenrant.  Thanks.

Ginny Stibolt

Blogging LIVE from Tallahassee

Just a quick post before dinner at Tall Timbers...

For folks wanting to attend just the 9:50am Bailey White/Gil Nelson presentation.  It will cost you $15 for this presentation only.  You may also register onsite for to attend the programs and presentations all day. 

See for details.

Wish you were here! Ginny Stibolt

Continue onto the next session, which covers the dinner and social at Tall Timbers with the band called The Weeds.

Blogging LIVE from Tallahassee

On the way over to the social on Friday night...
The gathering on Friday night on the 22nd floor of the Capitol Building was filled with conversations of every type. Lots of networking! And then some of us participated in a session of native plant Jeopardy!

Kariena Veaudry, Executive Director of FNPS is excited about the first ever summit of native plant society's from all over the SE US on Friday. Gene Kelly, president of the FNPS board of directors, initiated this meeting to take advantage of our location in Tallahassee this year. Kariena will report back to us here with a summary of this important meeting. Just think of the larger voice that all these Native Plant Societies will have as a group.

Ginny Stibolt

Continue on to thenext session of live blogging at the 30th Annual Conference.

Blogging LIVE from Tallahassee

This is a busy conference and there is so much to do and learn. If you have not pre-registered, you may register onsite. Registration is in the lobby of the downtown Doubletree Hotel Thursday night until 9pm or at the Leon county Civic Center on Friday or Saturday mornings starting at 7am. See for pricing and schedule of events. Hope to see you soon!

I'm here talking to Tom Greene, member of the Magnolia Chapter, who assisted on the field trip to Apalachee Wildlife management area and Three Rivers State Park. A total of nine folks went on this trip. Highlights: several sand hill communities and found a number of rare plant species. They talked about how burning is an important factor for some of the rare natives found there. After lunch and a hike in the state park they took another side trip into Chattahoochee Nature Park where looked at plants living in a ravine system: a watershed area of the Apalachicola River. Most of the participants were fr…

The Dirt on Mulch in Florida: Part II

Editor's Note: this is the second part of Steve Woodmansee's post on mulch, the first part can be seen here or you scroll down.
Organic Mulches

Yard Clipping and Leaves (stuff from your yard)
For permanent plantings, it is ideal to use clippings and leaves from your own yard. This helps prevent the overfilling of landfills, leaves no carbon footprint, and also saves money. Any leaves raked should be incorporated into the landscape. Pruned branches may be further cut up, and then spread over the area desired, or kept in brush piles (adding to the wildlife component). Larger branches may be left in a specific area for a time being so that the leaves fall off the dead branch and may be gathered later. When tree services are used, plan on keeping the mulch created. Lawn clippings may be also used; be aware that weed seed may be a component of them. Another source of green manure is excess algae and plants from your pond or water feature, this is best reserved for fruit trees and vege…

The Dirt on Mulch in Florida

Editor's Note: The author of this post, Steve Woodmansee, is the owner of Pro Native Consulting in Miami, and also the Vice President of Finance for the Florida Native Plant Society. Steve has written a comprehensive piece on the subject of mulch, which we are going to present in two installments. If you want to learn more from experts like Steve, come to the FNPS conference in Tallahassee, May 20-23. You can attend all days or single days. There will be great field trips, too, check the link!

Mulch can be an important part of landscaping and installing native plants.  Mulch is typically organic matter consisting of wood chips, twigs, bark, or leaves/needles. Some people also use gravel and rocks, or even products made from recycled tires in lieu of natural organic mulch. 

Benefits of mulch can include:
 Increasing nutrients to the plants, thus building the soil.Conserving water.Insulating the soil and plant roots (from both heat and cold).Stifling weed generation.Providing a habit…

White-Topped Sedge

The native white-topped sedge (Rhynchospora colorata) grows in many roadside ditches around the state, but it's sparser in the panhandle counties. It often grows with the native rain lilies (Zephyranthes atamasca) There are more than 50 species of Rhynchospora or beaksedges, but only three have white bracts. The other two are R. Floridensis, Florida whitetop, a south Florida native with short hairs on the bracts and R. latifolia, giant whitetop, with large bracts with their white area extended farther than an inch, which grows throughout the state.

Unlike most grass-like plants, this sedge is insect-pollinated and has developed showy white colorization on the bracts that surround its cluster of flowers in each head. The edges of the white bleed into the green color so it looks like Mother Nature spray-painted the white as an afterthought.

These sedges are a good addition to the edges of ponds or rain gardens. They are attractive, interesting, and tough. They can live in standing …

Interview with Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt, fellow FNPS blogger as well as book author and news reporter, will be one of the many fabulous presentors at our conference in Tallahassee. Her talk is at 11:15am Friday in room A-3. Although the announced title of her talk is "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," ( also the title of her wonderful new book) we have inside information that she'll be emphasizing rain gardens as part of a sustainable landscape.

Q. Ginny,
Many people today are tuned in to the fact that water is a precious resource we need to protect and use wisely, and rain barrels are being put to use in many yards. But what the heck is a rain garden?

A. A rain garden, also known as a bio swale, is planted in a swale or a low area where rainwater is directed. The purpose of rain gardens is to retain more stormwater on our properties where it then has a chance to percolate into the ground and isn’t whisked away into the stormwater systems. The swale could be natural or manufactured by digging and…

Spiderwort: Spring Beauty and Delightful Edible

A lot of Florida is decked out with the purples and yellows of spring. The landscape looks like an impressionistic painting with Lyre leaf sage (Salvia lyrata), cat’s ear (Hypochoeris radicata), false dandelion (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus), wild lettuce (Lactuca graminifolia), phlox (Phlox spp.), and spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) dotting our backyards and fields and popping up along roadsides.
One of my favorite spring plants, T. ohiensis in the Commelinaceae family, is not only beautiful but also edible! Known also by the names bluejacket and dayflower, T. ohiensis particularly likes moist meadows and the edges woodlands. You’ll find it in dry areas, too, but greatly diminished in stature.
This monocot grows in clusters and can reach a height of 30 inches. The lanceolate leaves are smooth with a deep ridge down the center. The rounded stem supports drooping clusters of flowers that have three blue petals and yellow stamens.

The flowers are yummy to eat as you walk along on hikes, an…

Ghost Orchid Controversy Resolved

Well, some of the controversy anyway! The beautiful and elusive Ghost Orchid, and its sale at a recent fundraiser turned out to be a topic that drew a lot of impassioned responses from readers with a range of issues.
First of all, yes: it was legal!
Rufino Osorio knew the law governing this action and replied to our question:  "The sale of Florida state-listed endangered and threatened plants is governed by  Florida Statute 581.185. The statute specifically states: (7) SALES BY NURSERYMEN - Licensed, certified nurserymen who grow from seeds or by vegetative propagation any of the native plants on the Regulated Plant Index, as provided in the rules of the department, are specifically permittted to sell these commercially grown plants and shall not be in violation of this section if they do so, as it is the intent of the section to preserve and encourage the propagation of these native plants which are rapidly disappearing from the state."
Rick Ehle, an FNPS chapter president, wro…