Showing posts from October, 2010

FNPS Research Grant Money at Work

  A study funded by money awarded from a Florida Native Plant Society Research Grant was selected for publication in the prestigious American Journal of Botany this September. Two biologists from the University of Alabama, Darah Newell and Ashley Morris conducted extensive research in Florida on an endemic plant, the Illicium parviflorum , commonly known by the name Yellow anise. The big money usually goes to the rarer plants, says Shirely Denton, an FNPS board member. What is unusual with this award is that the plant being studied is not rare, exactly, although it is on the Florida Department of Agriculture’s endangered list. What’s of interest in this case is that the plant's most common way of reproducing itself is not by setting seed, but by a  clonal, or root sprouting, method. So a cluster of Illicium p . might be offspring of only one parent plant. Adding to the interest is that Illicium p ., although occurring naturally in a limited range in Florida, is both  highly ad

Save the Date! for FNPS Annual Conference on May, 19-22, 2011

FNPS 31st Annual Conference will be held on   May, 19-22, 2011 in Maitland Patios, Preserves and Public Spaces: Making Connections Hosted by the Cuplet Fern, Lake Beautyberry, Pine Lily and Tarflower Chapters Join us in May, 2011 for this exciting and comprehensive conference that connects Florida's natural values and conservation with the landscapes that we create in our personal and public environments. Registration begins 01/01/11 with discounts offered to FNPS members.  Now's a good time to join as our chapters have started their programs for the season.  Then by the time May rolls around, you'll have a head start.  See  for a preliminary list of field trips, social activities and workshops.  The conference offers opporunities for sponsors and vendors.  Hope to see you there!

Removing Invasives in Mandarin: a Team Effort

Search and destroy!   This was the mission for four hours on a Sunday afternoon, carried out by a group of 12 teens and 6 members of the Ixia chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, covering Duval, Clay & Nassau Counties.  The teens were members of the Jacksonville Teens Volunteer program, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA), and earned four hours of community service, plus they learned a lot about invasive plants.  Walter Jones Historical Park, on the eastern bank of the St. Johns River in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville, houses a restored farmhouse and various outbuildings.  There are some remaining citrus plants and other cultivars left over from its farming days. For more information, visit .  Pete Johnson, conservation chair for the Ixia Chapter of FNPS, lives nearby and had noticed the large number of invasive plants on this property.  He worked with Andrew Morrow, executive director for the Mandarin Mu

Executive Committe Meets

FNPS officers from all corners of the state met earlier this month at  Turkey Lake State Park outside Orlando. Discussions covered a wide range of topics: exciting new projects were being considered at the same time hard decisions had to be made over funding issues. I had to leave before the finish of the meeting, and these notes in no way constitute minutes.  Here are few of the the discussion topics: The Suwannee River Water Management District has continued to sell off surplus lands that many think are important for conservation. After FNPS wrote a letter of protest, the DEP did, too, and so did Gov. Crist, but to no avail. At this point, the District is engaged in adopting a rule that defines their concept of what "surplus" means, after which further action (filing suit) can be taken by others. Biofuels is a pet passion of Adam Putnam, a possible new Commissioner of Agriculture. Caution is advised: biofuel plants tend to be rampant growers, and most have not been te

Florida's Marvelous Mangroves

Too many native mangrove stands have been removed from the edges of Florida's waterways over decades of development, and as a result shorelines are more vulnerable to tropical storms and our native bird and fish populations are in steep decline. Mangroves growing in thickets along tropical and sub-tropical shorelines absorb the wave action from open waters, build new land as they slow down and hold onto passing sediment, and create fabulous habitat for many types of wildlife. Many types of birds inhabit mangrove thickets and some of them are endangered or have declining populations. Some examples are roseate spoonbills, limpkins, white ibis, herons, bitterns, anhingas, osprey, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles. Mangroves are so important for the health of the shorelines that Florida has passed regulations to govern their treatment.  We mentioned mangroves last week as one of Florida's important water resources and habitats in We ALL Live in a Watershed! Mangroves as far a

Florida Wildflower Foundation's e-newsletter

Florida Wildflower Foundation's Oct. 21st issue of its e-newsletter   Read the newsletter and be sure to download the Fall Gazette  with lots of great information such as: a full report of the sold-out symposium; "Fall color, Florida" style by Jeff Norcini; The Foundation's partnership with the Scenic Highway program; "Fall in the wildflower garden" by Claudia Larson; fall garden jobs, including how to collect wildflower seeds; and a plant profile of the partridge pea.  You can also read our report of the wildflower symposium that we posted here last month.

Being True to Place

Many people enjoy planting “odd” things in their yards. In the world of native plant landscaping, this has often meant planting things that seem unusual … and what this has often meant is planting species that may be “native” based on occurring naturally somewhere in the state or in some landscape other than the one we’re working on. I’ve been there. Sometimes, I still can’t resist the beautiful plant in a pot that is being sold at the latest native plant sale. But, over time, I’ve had the opportunity to rethink this. I began landscaping with native about 30 years ago. At that time, I owned a home in southern Michigan. All lawn and old field weeds – about two acres of them. I went on the warpath against mowing by converting much of the lawn to old field and then began planting trees which I gathered locally, often from uncleared parts of the property. Many years later, after I’d been in Florida for about 10 years, I got a call from a woman who had bought the property and tracked me

We all live in a watershed! 10/15/2010 Blog Action Day topic is Water

North-central Florida has been blessed with fantastic and seemingly endless crystal-clear springs. The Floridan aquifer is close to the surface in this area and water pressure caused by water percolating into the limestone formations already filled with water flows to the surface. Some springs  discharge more than 65 million gallons of water per day.  Several state parks have been located to include these springs. Swimming with anhingas in Rainbow River  The springs support many types of wildlife: fish, water birds, snakes, turtles, and the placid manatees.  This manatee winters in Homosassa Springs   The anhingas, aka snake birds, are particularly fun to watch as they spear their fishy prey with their beaks underwater and then come to the surface where they expertly flip the fish from their beaks into their gullets. You can see the lump in their long necks as the fish slide down.  See DEP's website for more information, di

Natives:The REAL Right Plants

Okay! Now let’s talk about the real Right Plants! Kudos to IFAS for the new Florida Friendly publication with all its great information for waterwise gardening and smart landscape design principles. In my opinion, however, you have ripped the heart out of the very concept when you fail to mention the advantages of native plants each and every time you repeat the mantra, “Right Plant, Right Place.” In fact the whole world is waking up to the fact that native plants are critical elements in the great jenga tower of existence, not quaint items we would like to catalog in a museum. If you need the statistics and the whole argument, please read Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home. You can read a summary and a review right here on the bottom of our homepage . You can read a simple explanation on Wildlife Garden’s blog page from last week. Plants that come from Mexico, South America, or China, may be able to survive in Florida; they may even need relatively small amounts of water

Everything you need to know about the Florida-friendly program, but were afraid to ask: Part 2

This is Part 2 of an interview with Mike Thomas, Ph.D., P.E., who works at the Florida DEP, about the Florida Friendly Landscaping program.  Link to Part 1 here , where we asked Mike about primary objectives of the Florida-Friendly program and its law (HB2080), rain gardens, and Tallahassee's TAPP (Think About Personal Pollution) program. 5) There is quite a bit about landscape design included in the new, 104-page online and print book ( The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design ). Who is the intended audience and how will you market it? The primary target of the new book is the homeowner, but the highest priority is the HOA landscape and architectural control committees, so they will have a good reference to what many FFL options look like. We hope that this book will help to dispense with the notion that sustainable landscapes are necessarily weedy and unkempt. Many of the most beautiful gardens in the world were maintained in Charle

When Choosing Plants, Think Food Chain

Image Our own Loret T. Setters, an active member of our Pine Lily Chapter, has joined the great new group blog Wildlife Garden with her first post, When Choosing Plants, Think Food Chain . When she participates in outreach programs, she usually collects interesting bugs and other critters from her yard to take with her.  She displays them in jars with their favorite food and proper humidity and they serve as conversation starters.  Later she releases them back into her yard. At a recent event, someone remarked that not many folks could come up with eight different critters so quickly.  Well, she's planned her landscape so lots of bugs have access to their favorite foods. And if you want to invite birds to your yard, first you invite the bugs! Read her post and follow her on Twitter.  She has a wonderful, chatty writing style and we're sure that folks all over the country are looking forward to her next set of observations.  Thank

Everything you need to know about the Florida-Friendly program, but were afraid to ask! Part 1

You may have heard the term "Florida-Friendly" used in articles about the controversial law (HB2080) that passed last year and in presentations by your agriculture agents, and you may even have visited the Florida Yards website.  I thought I was fairly well educated on the topic, but when I met Mike Thomas in Tallahassee earlier this year on my book tour, I realized that there was so much more to think about.  And now with the new 104-page book, "Florida Friendly Landscaping," I thought you'd be interested in knowing more, too.  This is Part 1 of my interview with Mike.  Please feel free to ask more questions and leave your comments.  Thanks for reading. Ginny Stibolt An interview with Mike Thomas, Ph.D., P.E. on the Florida-Friendly program, a state-wide effort to educate homeowners and property managers to have less impact on the environment. Their nine principles of better and water-wise landscaping practices cover a wide range of topics from attractin

Sweet Everlasting

“What is that sweet smell?” I wondered, as I walked the trail on our property with our lumbering Lab, Max.  Just a subtle, gentle odor of something recognizable; perhaps the dog brushed against something as we walked. Ah, then I noticed it— Gnaphalium obtusifolium, recently renamed Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, and commonly called sweet everlasting. This is one of my favorite end-of-summer native species of the Asteraceae family. And it’s more than a fragrant delight. Sweet everlasting has a solid history as medicinal ally. Linnaeus named this genus in 1753, according to Daniel Austin in Florida Ethnobotany . Native people mixed the plant with smoking tobacco, and even Julia Morton in Folk Remedies of the Low Country (1974) noted its use in pipes by “old timers” in the southeast. Sweet everlasting is notable near summer’s end and reaches 24 to 36 inches. The leaves are alternate, narrow and lancelet, lacking stalks. They are green above, white and hairy below. The difference

Read the FNPS newsletter, Sabal minor

Learn the news at our society; read a message from our new president; and see pictures of the red admiral butterfly in its various stages. Did you know that the red admiral rarely visits flowers for nectar, but feeds on sap and decaying vegetation instead? Download your copy of Sabal minor here: