Showing posts from December, 2012

Celebrate Florida in 2013

Little Talbot Island by Shirley Denton Florida has so many wonderful parks and wild places to visit. Show your support by visiting a bunch of them this year. The parks are working on slimmer budgets these days so your visits not only help them balance the budgets, but greater use also helps them justify their existence to the budget deciders in the state government. You can also support your state parks by volunteering on a regular basis and also by letting your state representatives know how you feel about our wonderful state parks. Recently on Facebook, John M. sent us a message: "Next week two of us from Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be traveling from Birmingham to Lee, FL, then to Florida Caverns State Park, and finally to the Pensacola area to participate in a sarracenia rescue. We are interested in visiting some botanically interesting areas along the way. Might you have any suggestions? Kind thanks, John Instead of trying to answer the question myself,

Christmas in Florida

 American holly ( Ilex opaca )  Christmas in Florida     by Jim Moore The visitor sadly shook his head As he basked in the tropical sun; "Call this Christmas?" to me he said, "Well, not where I come from." "Christmas needs snow and ice and cold, And the sound of the sleighbells ring. As for me, I can't be sold On weather that feels like Spring. Santa Claus in a bathing suit? No sir, it just isn't right. Cranberry sauce and tropical fruit I think it's an awful fright." "My poor misguided friend," I said, "Your lament does not ring true. You're mixed up by the things you read From a myth you take your clue. Yaupon holly ( Ilex vomitoria ) For no snow fell on Bethlehem On the night the star first shone. There was no blizzard nor howling gale That swept with a shriek and a moan. The breezes were soft and what is more, The night that the Christ Child came, Hibiscus bloomed near the stable d

When you plant a tree, you believe in the future.

The Mayan Calendar for sale in a Mexican shop. On the Winter Solstice, 12/21/12 at 6:12am EST, the Mayan calendar stops. I can't decipher the calendar, so I personally don't have any way to verify that this assessment is true, but this impending date has engendered many interesting responses. As an example, see the dire weather forecast for this week, which has gone viral on the Internet. So..., we'll see what happens tomorrow. An interesting weather forecast! But if you believe in the future, you'll plant a tree before the day ends because… When you plant a tree, you believe in the future. If we all plant at least one tree today, maybe our collective efforts will prevent the world from ending. Of course, I'd highly recommend a native tree from local stock. So go to the FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) consumer website, to find the nearest FANN member with the trees you'd like to plant. . Plant some m

Happy Holly-days

My Yaupon Holly Christmas Tree! Photo by Laurie Sheldon. By Barbara Jackson In search of a Florida native holiday tree, I found the perfect one: Yaupon Holly ( Ilex vomitoria ). The form of this evergreen small tree, or large shrub, is upright, with multiple stems, making it perfect for holiday ornaments. I purchased one around 6 feet tall, and will plant it in my landscape after December. The female Yaupon Holly produces small red berries in the fall and winter, if a male specimen is close by. The fruit is attractive to birds and other small mammals when natural food supplies are dwindling. It also produces dense clusters of tiny white flowers in the spring, and attracts pollinators. This holly is fairly fast growing, highly salt tolerant, and is also noted for its high hurricane wind resistance. It will reach a height between 8 and 25 feet tall and spread 5 to 15 feet. It can be planted as a single specimen, or kept in pruned hedges. Yaupon Holly is highly drought tolerant on

Family Profile: The Cactaceae

By Jennifer Hoffman and Chelsea Warner Figure 1: O puntia corallicola , semaphore pricklypear. Photo credit: T. Ann Williams. This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Plant Taxonomy students at Jacksonville University. FNPS blogger Laurie Sheldon assisted the students with their initial drafts, providing suggestions for editing and content development. Classification Kingdom: Plantae Division: Magnoliophyta Class: Magnoliopsida Order: Caryophyllales Family: Cactaceae Features Leaves: typically reduced as spines Fruit: berry Flower: zygomorphic or actinomorphic, with tepals rather than sepals and petals Figure 2: The specific epithet of Harrisia fragrans   may allude to its sweet smelling flowers. Photo credit: Keith Bradley. Description The cactus plant family or Cactaceae is specially adapted to survive in hot and dry conditions. For example, many species have sharp spines to protect them from predation, direct rai

Good Plants Gone Bad

By Shirley Denton We bemoan the prevalence of invasive species in our landscapes. From cogon grass to Brazilian pepper and Japanese honeysuckle, we don’t want them. I personally fight with natal grass, guinnea grass, skunk vine, and lantana, all of which insist on coming into my landscape. But I love species such as water lily and red mangrove – and sometimes us humans have spread them beyond their native ranges. I thought it might be instructive to see how some of them have behaved in their new homes. Global Invasive Species database I just scanned through 3065 records in the Global Invasive Species database looking for Florida natives that can misbehave when moved into areas where they don’t grow natively. I found a dozen of them, but since I was scanning through the list, there could be more. And this is just the species that are considered to be problems in the areas where they are introduced. Some of these I knew about. Others were surprises. A couple, I didn’t even know