Showing posts from December, 2010

A Walk In the Longleaf Pines

Happy New Year to ALL!  Enjoy this piece by Eleanor Sommers, a member of the Paynes Prairie Chapter. If you or your chapter has a story to tell that includes something about Florida native plants, let us know. We'd love to host more guest bloggers. Email us at with your ideas and plant some Florida native plants to celebrate 2011.   Ginny & Sue

A Walk along a Longleaf Pine Trail

If you haven’t explored the Longleaf Ecology and Forestry Society’s (LEAFS) trails in eastern Alachua County near Waldo consider doing so next time you are in the area. This private demonstration project has been designed to show small private landowners (100 acres or less) how to “harmoniously and profitably” restore and sustain a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) habitat using fire, selective harvesting, and replanting of desired species. Once reestablished, the habitat can be “maintained and utilized for the production of forestry products (LEAFS brochure).” Fire is a major part o…

One Person CAN Make a Difference

As the year comes to a close, many folks rate the past year on items that they've accomplished or good deeds that they've done. This feel-good story, published in the Florida Times Union in Jacksonville shows just how much difference one man made...

Read the whole story here:  Willie Browne's Enduring Gift to Jacksonville: Nature
Here's a link to the Park Service website for the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
It includes Ft. Caroline, the Kingsley Plantation (the oldest plantation house in Florida) and miles of wonderful trails through the woods and over ancient shell mounds left from the Timucuan Indians.
Even if you don't own acres of undisturbed land to donate, you can, before the year ends, make a pledge to donate time and/or money to The Nature Conservancy of Florida, The Florida Wildflower Foundation, and of course, the Florida Native Plant Society. Read the end of year message from FNPS president Ann Redmond for a run down on the many ways that th…

Can the Birds Count on You???

Folks have been counting birds for decades, but can the birds count on you... to provide habitat filled with native plants that provide food, shelter, and places to raise their young?
This is the 111th year that Audubon Society has organized its Christmas bird count. This definitive data shows without a doubt that our native bird populations have decreased dramatically over the decades. Most of the declines are due to decreased habitat, but we are not helpless and we can all do much more than wring our hands in dismay.

Greg Braun from Audubon of Martin County in south Florida created a slide show which illustrates specific examples of how and why people of south Florida can make a significant difference for their birds. 
An important book that makes THE case for more native plants in the landscape for wildlife is Doug Tallamy's "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens." As our friend Ellen Honeycutt, an active member of the Georgia Native …

Winter Solstice and Hollies

Plants, especially evergreens, have long played a role in celebrating pagan and religious events and holidays. When celebrating the holidays this year think about planting some native hollies in your landscape. Evergreen hollies are good for screening and offer excellent habitat for birds, while deciduous hollies offer outstanding beauty of berries on naked branches.

Hollies are dioecious, which means that trees will bear either male or female flowers, but not both. The female trees bear those attractive berries. (Nurseries should label whether a holly is a male or a female. Be sure there is at least one male tree in the neighborhood or your female trees won’t produce berries.) Hollies grow best in acidic soil and once they are established, require little care. The USDA reports that the biggest destroyer of holly trees is not disease or insects, but people harvesting its branches for the Christmas trade!

End-of-Year Message from FNPS President

Ann Redmond sent out an end-of-year message to the membership. Read it to see how you can receive a 22-photograph theme for your Windows computer by our own Shirley Denton.

Here's how Ann begins her letter:

Dear Fellow FNPS Member,

We’re just finishing up our Thirtieth Year as the voice for Florida’s native plants! We’ve really leapt forward – a Resolution from the Governor and Cabinet recognized our contributions this year. Our efforts have spawned development of a confederation of NPS’s in the southeast. Our grant funding has fostered conservation and restoration of Florida’s natural lands. There have been recent scientific publications from research for which we provided grant funding. We are making a difference in many ways throughout Florida.

We entered the world of social media in May and that has been remarkably productive; we gain new followers every week. Our Facebook page has about 700 Fans, as well as almost 600 active weekly users of t…

Green Boots for FNPS

Want to hike and earn money for FNPS? There's an app for that!

Green Boot Media is a new organization providing funding and publicity for non-profit environmental groups. They raise revenue from advertisers who pay to be featured on the ad stream that runs while you are walking.

FNPS is officially signed up, and we got our first exposure from Green Boot when they welcomed us on their Facebook page, with a link to us, which went out to all the other Green Boot members nationwide.

In Florida, The North Florida Land Trust, Tampa Bay Watch, Apalachacola Riverkeepers, the Conservation Trust for Florida, and the DuMond Conservancy are also using Green Boot.

You have to have an iPhone to use it so far, but we are hoping it will morph over soon. So if you do have an iPhone, go to the iTunes store where you can download the Green Boot app for free. If you have friends who have iPhones, ask them to do it, too; you do not have to been an FNPS member to get steps credited to us.

This is anoth…

Native Plant Wreath Making

Native plants make nifty wreaths! The FNPS's Conradina Chapter was creativity in action Monday night as the members, along with their friends from local garden and herb clubs,  joined in a convivial group to fashion wreaths and other seasonal decorations using native plants.

As you will soon see, a wide variety of methods and styles, both conventional and un,  were successfully employed.

Chapter president Martha Steuart started us out by introducing all the plants, and we had an excellent selection, including:
Simpsons stopper, sea grape, magnolia - leaves and pods, satin leaf, yaupon holly, yellowtop, southern red cedar, coontie, spanish moss, salt bush, palm fronds, several grasses, dried ferns and polypody, pine cones, and some native-found treasures like feathers and shells.

 Martha gave snippets of information with many of the plants: coontie and spanish moss were among Forida's first cash crops. Simpson's stopper is sometimes known as Naked bark because on a mature tr…

Prizes, Politics, and Passion

Kariena Veaudry, our own FNPS Executive Director, spearheaded the effort to save 17,000 acres of pristine Florida habitat in Osceola County, winning her an award from the Sierra Club. Here's the story of how one woman used passion, determination, and political savvy to battle bad decisions by government and corporate interests. Kariena shares her top three tips you can use to influence Florida's public input process.
Kariena waxed passionate in her explanation of how this award came about. She began with the observation, “ Investigative reporting is largely gone everywhere, and it left Osceola county extra early." Commissioners there are bent on a huge development project that will benefit one large land owner, destroy one of the most critical areas of conservation in the state, and negatively impact the citizens of Osceola County most of whom know nothing about it. This development is being pushed forward in a county that still has 103 years of growth left before anything…

Field trip to Torreya State Park with Gil Nelson: Part 2

This is the second part of a summary of an FNPS field trip with Florida plant guru Gil Nelson.  Click here to read Part 1.

Gil thinks that sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) should be more widely planted. Particularly because of its year round interest including its unusual salmon-y fall color. It's a panhandle plant, but might also do well farther east.

We saw quite a bit of leatherwood (Dirca palustris) which makes quite a show this time of year with its yellow leaves. Gil explains that its common name leatherwood refers to the pliable stems, and that Native Americans used these twigs instead of leather to make ropes or thongs.  It's only found in a few Florida panhandle counties.

We found some partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) groundcover, but very few patches still had their bright red berries. This occurs throughout north and central Florida.

As we came out of the woods, we met up with a troop of boy scouts having lunch at the stone bridge. Some of us chatted with the scout…

Field trip to Torreya State Park with Gil Nelson: Part 1

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 25 members from three different chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society joined up with Florida plant guru Gil Nelson at Torreya State Park. The park, located west of Tallahassee,  borders the Apalachicola River. You may have noticed that several books that we recommend over there on the right hand column are by Gil.
What a great way to spend a beautiful north Florida November day--out in the woods with folks who are interested in not only plants, but the bugs, snakes and the whole ecosystem. After posing for the initial photo (Gil is on the left of this group photo.), we were off into the woods.  (Note: For this post, I have included links to webpages with more information on the specimen being discussed.)

Here Gil shows folks how to look for hairy undersides of leaves to help identify this tree that many people confuse with oaks, but instead it's a gum bully (Sideroxylon lanuginosum). It also has thorns and bluish berries, which might be a …

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