The purpose of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. This blog presents ideas and information to further the cause of Florida's native plants and ecosystems.
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A Pine can have lightning scars that run down the trunk. Why doesn't an Oak?
by Cecilia Catron, Tarflower Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
(reprinted with permission from the August 2016 issue of Tarpaper)
When days are hot, as they have
been for the past month, it seems like a sensible idea to lie in or around
the pool all day, like a motionless alligator. Curds of bright, white
thunderheads rise higher and higher, expanded by the increasing heat.
Gradually air pushed from the east and west coasts meets in the middle of
the peninsula. By mid-afternoon it becomes charged by the collision of
the fronts and summer lightning is created, with or without a storm.
Have you ever noticed a stripe spiraling down the
trunk of a pine tree where lightning has stripped the outer bark off? You
may have also noticed there is no such stripe on the trunk of an oak tree.
Oaks and Pines, both dominant here in central Florida, have different
lightning survival strategies. Most pine species have long, straight
trunks. They are relatively fast-growing with soft wood. Oak trunks on the
other hand are often twisted and full of knots. They grow more slowly (except Laurel Oak, Quercus laurifolia) and the wood is very
hard, dense, and heavy.
Lightning is attracted to the tallest
tree, regardless what species it is. Energy is conducted down the
trunk of a typical pine with little to stop it since the cells are
constructed in long, continuous rows. Knotty oaks on the other hand
do not have such unobstructed cellular highways. When a knot is struck it
may explode, but a lightning bolt's energy is spent before it can progress
down the trunk, limiting damage. Good planning, oaks. Also a case for
organisms that create knots on oaks - part of the ecological give and take.
New pines grow relatively quickly to replace trees that are destroyed,
which is also a viable strategy.
Be that as it may, never take shelter under any tree to escape a storm.
Especially here in Lightning Alley nature can put on an awesome show, but
it's important to remember that a tree may be a target.
Austrailian Pine fruits Australian pines seem to be everywhere in the coastal regions in the bottom half of Florida. Their name is deceiving because, while they are native to Australia, they aren't pines or even conifers. They are flowering trees with separate male and female flowers, and what look like needles are really green twiglets with close-set circles of tiny leaves that drop at the first sign of a drought. In the photo to the right, the light-colored lines are where leaves where once attached. Most of the photosynthesis takes place in the twiglets. There are three species of Australian pine ( Casuarina spp ) that have been imported into Florida for various purposes. They were widely planted to soak up the "swamps" in Florida, stabilize canals, and hold beaches. Unfortunately for Florida's ecosystems, the "pines" accomplished all this and more--like seeding prolifically, growing five feet or more per year, producing dense shade, and emitting
by Bob Silverman Blanketflower, Galliardia pulchella You don’t have to travel far to see one of the hundreds of native flowers that make Florida stand out. They’re nature’s roadside attractions, and many can make for colorful additions to your yard. Consider these natural wonders: Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana - this shrub dazzles with its clumps of purple fruit that will draw birds to your yard. Black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia spp. - with a brown center surrounded by petals of yellow, golden, orange, or red petals, is perfect for attracting butterflies to your garden. Firebush, Hamelia patens var. patens - with its bright red flowers, can serve as a beacon for hummingbirds, butterflies, and songbirds (which like to feed on its berries). Tickseed, Coreopsis spp. - our state wildflower, sometimes called Coreopsis, comes in 12 species native to Florida. You’ll find all of them in the northern part of the state, but South Florida is limited to Leavenworth’s tickseed, Co
Man-in-the-ground ( Ipomoea microdactyla ), fantastically beautiful morning glory for southernmost Florida. A post by Roger L. Hammer Most everyone is familiar with morning-glories in the genus Ipomoea, and certainly everyone reading this has even eaten Ipomoea batatas, the common sweet potato. The Morning-Glory Family (Convolvulaceae) is well-represented in Florida, with 67 species in fourteen genera. Of those, twenty-four species are naturalized exotics, and four species are endemic to Florida, found nowhere else. The genus Ipomoea is the largest in the family, with twenty-five species and one naturally-occurring hybrid of two native species. Exactly half of the species (13) in Florida are native. Only two species are rare enough to be listed as endangered by the state of Florida, and these are the rockland morning-glory ( Ipomoea tenuissima ) and man-in-the-ground ( Ipomoea microdactyla ). Both are on the northern extreme of their natural range in Florida, and both are re