Showing posts from September, 2010

Butterfly Release Controversy

What we unwittingly released was a  firestorm when we published the butterfly releasepiece last week. Turns out there is a  dark side to the practice, and we want to share with our readers what we have come to know.....and hey, folks, this is one of the reasons the blog exists! It gives us a great forum to talk with, question, and learn from each other! 

The butterfly world is kind of divided in two camps on this issue. On one side are members of IBBA, theInternational Butterfly Breeders Association, who say that the practice of releasing butterflies is safe, both for the butterflies themselves, and for their impact on the environment they enter. On the other side are a number of people, including members of the Xerces Society, and the North AmericanButterfly Association (NABA).

Xerces is  a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The Xerces site is very informative, and one of the things you will note if you go there…

Wildflower Symposium 2010: Highlights

There was a lot to learn at the 2010 Wildflower Symposium presented by the Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) held at the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs building in Winter Park.

Starting with the annual meeting, we learned that over the life of the wildflower license plate program (since 2000), more than $2.3 million has been raised and the majority of that money has been spent on research. This year the board has decided on a more balanced budget with more money spent on wildflower planting projects--the blue piece of the pie.  (Green: administrative expenses, gold: education, rose: research.)

Jeff Caster, FWF president filled us in on the inner-workings of the foundation's activities, the new information-rich foundation website, and how Florida's native wildflowers are enriching lives.

Then Brightman Logan reminded us about the importance of plant provenance. Even though the species may be the same, plants that originate from northern stock will not do well in Florida&#…

Butterfly Bonanza at the Florida/Georgia Line

"Butterfly bonanza" was the report on a recent field trip to Simmons State Forest by the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.  The members of this Jacksonville group identified 26 different butterflies and were treated to a rare sighting of a Cofaqui Giant Skipper, which they even caught on camera - see below!   If your group has been on an interesting adventure and you have good photos of native plants or wildlife (like Bill's fantastic skippers) let us know.  We'd love to post it here.   Ginny Stibolt

Ixia Chapter Field Trip: Simmons State Forest. September 12, 2010Written and photographed by Bill Berthet

Waving hands, Cheshire smiles were aglow as I was greeted by 7 other members
of the Ixia chapter at the Burger King parking lot in Callahan. We headed North to Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest. We picked up another Ixia member on the way and had a "TWO CAR" caravan.

Located in Nassau Co. in Northeastern Florida on the Florida-Georgia bo…

Mexican Petunia: A Plant Gone Rogue

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: before you today stands the Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, of the family Acanthaceae, a blue, long-flowering plant used copiously in landscapes throughout Florida. What we will attempt to show you today, is that this plant, which invaded our fair state from foreign countries, is not a part of a sustainable ecosystem here, and in fact, has gone rogue with deleterious effects in a wide variety of habitats.

In other words, it may look good, but it's a bad choice. In fact FLEPPC (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council) has listed it as a category one invasive plant. This bad actor goes by many names: Ruellia tweediana, Ruellia brittoniana, Ruellia coerulea and Ruellia malacosperma are all names for the same culprit. In case you've forgotten, a Category I invasive plant is found doing some or all of the following:
altering native plant communities by displacing native specieschanging community structures or ecological functionshybridizing with natives…

People ARE interested in Garden-oriented events

In my guest rant on today's, I maintain that many people ARE interested in gardening events. This is in response to a NYTimes article a few weeks back that botanical gardens have had to cancel their garden-oriented events, because there's not enough interest. I took part in eleven (11) garden-oriented events in Florida over this past year where up to 20,000 people attended. I've summarized some of the best ideas for holding successful garden-oriented festivals. I've also included a link to a photographic tour. Enjoy!
I was quite pleased to see that various FNPS chapters were organizers or participants in the majority of the Florida garden fests. What a great way to reach out and educate the very specific group of folks--the gardeners!
If you have more ideas or would like to share your experiences, please leave a comment.

Ginny Stibolt

Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

Learn more about butterfly farming: read A butterfly hobby takes wing and brings in $300,000 a year. Be sure to watch the beautiful video of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis.

While we can attract butterflies to our own yards by planting more native plants--particularly larval food plants for butterflies, sometimes we might wish for more butterflies for special occasions. This is when having access to a butterfly farm like White Oak comes into play. I thought it was interesting that they ship adult butterflies in folds of wax paper in chilled containers to "mimic a cool spring morning." In my tour of 11 Florida garden fests this past year, several included butterfly houses and/or butterfly releases. Just beautiful!

One other note on welcoming monarchs to your yard: Don't plant scarlet milkweed, an exotic from South America that is commonly sold in big box stores, because the scarlet milkweed is more tropical than our natives and continues to bloom for a longer period…

American Beautyberry: Purple Now

Callicarpa Americana
American Beautyberry                                                               
Other Names: Dwarf Mulberry, Beautybush, Filigree, French Mulberry, Beautyberry

Introduction: Purple berries clinging around stems with bright green foliage make Callicarpa americana stand out from late summer to winter. It is easy to see how beautyberry got its common name. Don’t let its looks fool you though; Callicarpa is more than just eye candy. Callicarpa americana is useful medicinally and as food for wildlife and people. American Beautyberry is not fussy about location, soil or light requirements. This tough plant is an American Beauty in every sense of the word. Its name comes from Greek: Kalli, means beautiful; Karpos means fruit.

Historic Medicinal Uses:
Native Americans had many uses for beautberry, both internally and externally.  According to Taylor (1940), Native Americans used beautyberry externally as a steam and topical application. All parts of the pla…

The Garden Professors Define Terms--alien, native, invasive & more

Holly Scoggins, one of the garden professors posted an interesting piece on the defintions of terms including alien, exotic, invasive and aggressive.  The discussion in the comments is also worthwhile.

We discussed it here a few posts ago: Invasive vs. Agressive... Part 1.

Say, here's an example of some invasives: wild taro (Colocasia esculenta) and wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata).  >>
So the discussion continues...

Buy your books (and other stuff) here

As you may have noticed, we have listed several books over in the right-hand column. If you use our Amazon links to purchase books FNPS will make some money depending upon the price of the item. If you use Amazon to purchase other items, you can still link to one of the books and then navigate to any other item to earn some cash for your favorite group.

On another note, if you wish to suggest any other books that you think folks would be interested in that relate to Florida and its native plants, let us know.

Thanks for your support.

PS., if you would like to suggest a topic or if you'd like to be a guest blogger, we'd love to hear from you.