Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Skyblue Lupine

Lupinus cumulicola
Text and photo by Roger L. Hammer 

From January to May each year the white sand scrub on the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Osceola, Polk, and Highlands Counties are adorned with the cheery blue flowers of the Florida endemic skyblue lupine (pronounced LOO-PIN). 

Some botanists consider it a synonym of Lupinus diffusus , but others argue that L. diffuses differs by its habitat, range, prostrate to decumbent stems, orbicular-reniform (kidney-shaped) standard, and a nearly straight beak on the pods. 

The stems of Lupinus cumulicola are usually erect with gray-green, silky pubescent, elliptic leaves that average 2”–3” long and about 1” wide. The pods have a curved beak.

Lupinus is taken from lupus, or “wolf,” and alludes to the curious belief that these plants consumed soil fertility, when, in fact, they improve the soil with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The species name cumulicola means “dweller on a heap or mound,” in this case, sand. It comes from the same root word for cumulus clouds that form billowing mounds in the sky. The seeds of some species were used in ancient Greece as a hallucinogen to psychoactively prepare people to commune with the dead.

The plant photographed was growing on a hill of white sand right alongside US27 in Polk County in mid-January 2015. When in flower, it’s hard to miss. Bees are the principal pollinator.

Roger is a member of the FNPS Dade Chapter and is currently working on a new Falcon Guide titled Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowers, due to be released in Spring 2018. His other wildflower guides include Florida Keys Wildflowers  (2004), Everglades Wildflowers (2nd edition, 2014), and Central Florida Wildflowers (2016).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Stimulate the Five Senses through Your Garden
Submitted by Jackie Edwards, Guest Blogger 

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden” (Robert Brault). 

Image courtesy of

Gardening provides many miraculous benefits for a child’s development including fine motor skills, math skills, responsibility, and science. Children that spend time outside are also happier as the landscape helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase attention. When combining gardening with the use of all senses, you can further increase the benefits.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Tennessee Leafcup

TENNESSEE LEAFCUP, Polymnia laevigata Beadle
Aster Family (Asteraceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer

Polymnia laevigata,  photo by Roger Hammer

The lower leaves of this species reach 6"–12" long and 4"–6" wide and are deeply and raggedly cut with pointed lobes, reducing in size up the stem with few or no lobes. The 3'–6' stems are glabrous (smooth). The flower heads are about ½" wide, subtended by a whorl of leafy bracts, and with 3-toothed ray florets and male disk florets.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Atlantic Pigeonwings

Pea Family (Fabaceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter

The upper leaves of this vining species have 3 ovate to ovate-lanceolate leaflets that reach up to 2½" long and ¾" wide. The violet or pink flowers reach 2" long. A similar, related, endemic species (Clitoria fragrans) has narrower leaflets, sweetly fragrant flowers, and is known only from the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Orange, Polk, and Highlands Counties.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In Touch: Teaching children to value and respect the wilderness and the creatures that live there.

Submitted by by Steve Franklin, Guest blogger

I feel certain that, like me, most of you can recall more than one occasion when you didn’t explain your thoughts about a subject as well as know you can. I’m currently experiencing one of those moments.

On the day before Earth Day, a few other volunteers and I conducted an educational field trip event for the first graders from Lake Alfred Elementary School. My portion of the program involved taking them for a short hike on one of the trails at Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve, which is located in the City of Lake Alfred.

Throughout the hike, I was discussing map reading, hiking safety, trail etiquette, and what it means to be a good steward of the land. However, I’m not certain that I did a good enough job of explaining the importance of being thoughtful and considerate of others when we’re out to enjoy the clean, wholesome fun that nature-related activities provide. Did I instill in them a new appreciation of nature and a concern for its survival, which will encourage them to value and protect it well into the future? With this article I’m tossing the ball into your court in hopes that you’ll make up for my shortcomings by enthusiastically discussing these topics with your children or grandchildren.

When I think of trail safety, I’m thinking about the wellbeing of both hikers and all of the other mortal beings who occupy the wildlands that we visit. It’s not just about people traveling on foot from point A to point B without getting hurt. It’s also about respecting the homeland of the wild creatures that live in our forests, scrub habitats, rivers, lakes, marshes, and swamps. It’s about developing a love of Nature that beckons us to return to her over and over again. We should be there to enjoy and appreciate the benefits that large trees provide---cool air and the sound of hymns being hummed as the wind circulates among their leaves.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday’s Wildflower: Seaside Gentian

Seaside Gentian: Eustoma exultatum
Submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami-Dade Chapter, resident of the lower Florida Keys

Seaside Gentian, photo by Beryn Harty

The beautiful Seaside Gentian, Eustoma exultatum, is a herbaceous wildflower found in brackish to fresh wet coastal areas, and inland in wet prairies. The stunning flowers are usually a shade of light to medium purple with a dark purple center, but some flowers appear almost white with dark purple centers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Southern Beeblossom

Southern Beeblossom, Onenothera simulans

Submitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.

Southern Bee Blossom flower, photo by Jean Evoy

Southern Beeblossom is a common wildflower of roadsides, fields, dunes and open woods in Florida.  It used to be called Gaura angustifolia, but a few years ago the evening primrose family underwent extensive revisions and G. angustifolia, was renamed Oenothera simulans along with several other species of that were included in the genus Gaura.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday’s Wildflower: Drumheads

Polygala cruciata, Drumheads
Text, photos and poetry by Donna Bollenbach. Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society


Some native flowers are greatly admired, but have yet to make it into our gardens. One is the showy Drumhead, Polygala cruciata. With a few exceptions, Drumheads are found throughout Florida. Like many members of the Polygalaceae or Milkwort family, they like moist, open habitats and are found in moist prairies, the edges of marshes, and wet  pinelands.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Methods to Remember: Concrete Steps for Teaching Conservation to Kids

Submitted by Jackie Edwards, Guest Blogger


Now more than ever, environmental conservation is a hot button issue. Despite the fact that it may feel like an individual contribution to cleaning up the environment is insignificant, enough individuals can effectively become a collective. This means that our kids have also got to be taught how to conserve their environment and care for their local plantlife. For kids it may be difficult to understand environmental conservation and why it is so important, but with these simple steps you can make it fun, simple and engaging while they're interacting with your garden or the local flora.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Tickseed, Coreopsis spp.

Tickseed, Coreopsis spp.
Submitted by Carol Mahler, Serenoa Chapter of Florida Native Plant Society

Coreopsis, photo by Carol Mahler
Although the orange blossom, Citra sinensis, was named our state flower in 1909, the legislature designated the genus Coreopsis as our state wildflower in 1991. According to the Netstate, the story began in 1963 as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) finished a project near Tallahassee that required sod. The sod field had previously been a pasture planted in red clover—a winter forage for cattle. When the clover blossomed in the new grass, people complimented FDOT for their “highway beautification.” That praise inspired FDOT to plant native wildflowers along Florida’s highways.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Withlacoochee Noddingcap

Triphora craigheadii Luer
Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)

Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society

The fragile, succulent stem of this native orchid averages 1"–2" tall with 1–4 broadly ovate, 3/8" leaves that are dark green above and purple below. 

Flowers are about 3/16" wide and last only 2 hours in the morning. Plants often produce 2 buds that open a week apart. What this means is that you need to be standing in front of plants in bud during June and July at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning and, if you’re lucky, a flower will open. A clue to a bud opening is it stands straight up the day before if opens. Otherwise the buds are nodding. If you miss it, you’ll have one more chance the following week. If you miss that chance, then you’ll have to wait another year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Coastal Groundcherry

Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis augustifolia
submitted by Carol Tebay, Longleaf Pine Chapter

I spent my first winter on the Intercoastal Waterway at Big Lagoon in Escambia County getting to know some of the plants in this scrub dune habitat.  I spotted one plant I couldn't identify. Then, in April, while searching the internet to identify some tracks I’d found in the sand, I came across a list of plants that beach mice depend on for food.  I’d recently spotted one of them, the Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis angustifolia (narrow-leaved).  In this harsh, coastal environment, where I tower over many mature runner oaks, Coastal Groundcherry hugs the ground. Just the right height for a tiny beach mouse.

The Groundcherry is a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. Photo by Carol Tebay
According to the Atlas of Florida Plants, there are ten native species of Physalis growing in Florida.   While Coastal Groundcherry seems to prefer Gulf Coast counties, at least one species of Physalis can be found in most Florida counties.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Short Plants in Sun: Natives for Urban Gardens

Submitted by Richard Brownscombe

Reprinted with permission from the April newsletter of the Broward County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society 

Plants under a foot high are very useful in the urban garden. You can avoid mulch if there are enough small plants to outcompete the weeds. Short native species may be the most interesting in a landscape because they are underutilized and seldom seen. All of the species below prefer full sun and are native to Broward County. Let's jump right into looking at a few species for drier soils and then a few more for average-moisture soils.

Sun/Drier Soils

We have identified four species for places in your landscape of Sun and Drier Soils. Sun means at least 6 hours including the hot midday sun. All drought-tolerant plants need water, but have evolved ways to retain it or roots to reach for it. Generally, well-drained sandy soils are suitable for these scrub species. Give them deep watering until the roots take hold. Wilting leaves or more subtle signs may help you see when they need water.

Coastalplain golden aster, photo by Shirley Denton
Coastalplain golden aster
Chrysopsis scabrella

The tallest of these short species is Coastalplain golden aster, Chrysopsis scabrella, at 12 to 18", but it may fall over. If so, go with this behavior and establish a mat of several plants. They begin growth as rosettes of wooly leaves and in the fall send up spikes with showy crowns of yellow flowers. Craig Huegel, author and one of Florida's most experienced native landscapers, says that they are easy to grow. Since they don't bloom year-round you may want to establish them with other scrub natives that also like open sand in full sun. This species is occasionally available from native nurseries. You may need
to hunt for it or request it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Buttonbush

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis

Submitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.

Dorantes skipper on buttonbush by Jean Evoy
Every spring I anxiously await the first sign of buttonbush blossoms.  Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, thrives in swamps, sloughs, marshes and along the edges of ponds and lakes  throughout most of North American and the West Indies. Even though the flower heads don’t look anything like modern buttons, their pincushion-like structures make buttonbush an interesting and attractive addition to our Florida landscape.

Buttonbush by Jean Evoy
Buttonbush is an understory shrub, or small tree with arching branches. It has attractive reddish-brown bark and opposite or whorled leaves.  The intriguing globular inflorescences contain numerous bisexual, sessile, white flowers. The fragrant flowers are 4-lobed, with 4 united sepals, 4 stamens and a single pistil. The styles extend beyond the flowers.  The entire inflorescences is about 3-4 centimeters in diameter.

In his book, Florida Ethnobotany, FNPS member Dan Austin noted that buttonbush was used by indigenous people to treat a variety of problems like dysentery, headaches, stomachaches, rheumatism and toothaches.  However, by the late 1800s the plant had fallen out of favor, as people began to realize that some of the side effects were worse than the problem being treated.  Later chemical assessments revealed that buttonbush contains toxic glucosides, volatile oils and tannins.

Dahana moth on buttonbush by Jean Evoy
The fragrant buttonbush flowers attract bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and flower beetles. Flower beetles and bees collect both pollen and nectar. During many years, buttonbush flowers are regarded as major butterfly attractors.  With the extreme drought conditions this spring, the attraction of buttonbush flowers has been diminished, or perhaps fewer butterflies have been around.  However, I still stop to look whenever I see a buttonbush in full bloom; often I am pleasantly surprised.

Other links:
USF Plant Atlas: Cephalanthus occidentalis
FNPS Native Plants for Your Area: Buttonbush
IRC: Common Buttonbush

Friday, June 2, 2017

Seeing Old Friends for the Very First Time

Submitted by Devon Higginbotham, Indigo Travel Company

Purple Wakerobin, Trillium erectum, Blue Ridge Mountains
I remember visiting the Appalachians for the first time.  It was 1971 and with my new driver’s license firmly in hand, I accepted an invite from my older sister and her girlfriend, Francie, to go camping in Vogel State Park in north Georgia.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Star Anise & Florida Anise

Illicium spp., Anise
submitted by Tom Palmer, Heartland Chapter

Florida has two native species of anise that look quite different and are found in very different regions of the state. Both bloom in spring.

Star Anise

Star Anise, Illicium parviflorum, Photo by Tom Palmer
The Yellow Anise Tree/Star  Anise, Illicium parviflorum, is found in hydric hammocks in a handful of Central Florida counties from Marion to Polk. It reportedly once occurred in Georgia, but has been extirpated. While classified as endangered in Florida, it is locally common in places such as the Marion Creek Basin in northeast Polk County.The type specimen was collected in 1799 in Marion County.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Eastern bluestar

Amsonia tabernaemontana Walter
Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae)

Submitted by Roger Hammer

Eastern Bluestar, Rover Hammer, roadside ditch along SR65 near Apalachicola.
This perennial wildflower reaches 3' tall with smooth stems and lanceolate to elliptic leaves from 3–4" long and ¾"­–1" wide (the uppermost leaves are sessile). It can form large, multi-stemmed clumps and is easy to see when in flower. Pale blue, ¾", star-shaped flowers are in terminal clusters. Flowering season begins in March and lasts into August so look for it in the floodplain forests of the Florida panhandle east to Columbia, Alachua, and Levy Counties. It ranges across the eastern United States to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and is on its southern range extension in Florida.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Conference Field Trip Follow-up: Camp Lonesome Conservation Area

Camp Lonesome Field Trip Follow up 
Submitted by Jenny Welch, Sparkleberry Chapter

If you were swayed to go on the Camp Lonesome Field Trip by Jenny's pre-conference blog, then you were one of the lucky ones. Here Jenny provides a follow up on the plants and animals observed at this very special place: 

On our way to Camp Lonesome there were two crested caracaras beside the road, and we saw turkeys with cute babies. Beautiful bright yellow meadowlarks were singing melodiously, as if to welcome us as we drove up to the gate.  A loggerhead shrike was catching breakfast in the field as we gathered to begin our hike, and blue gray gnatcatchers, northern parulas, and cardinals were calling from the trees as we started to walk.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower Whitemouth Dayflower

Commelina erecta
submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami Dade Chapter

Commelina erecta, photo by Beryn Harty, Roadside, Ramrod Key, FL

Whitemouth Dayflower, Commelina erecta,  is a prostrate, herbaceous, perennial wildflower with very showy morning blooms which may bloom throughout the year. The flower is  quarter sized, bright blue, with two larger ear-shaped petals and a small white lower petal (the mouth).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Fewflower Milkweed

Asclepias lanceolata
submitted by Lynn Sweetay, Palm Beach Chapter

A. lanceolata is tall with a herbaceous stem that does not branch. Leaves are very narrow and lanceolate. Flowers are orange to red and yellow. Flowering occurs in early summer. It is a larval host plant for monarch and queen butterflies and a possible larval host for soldier butterflies as well as providing nectar for monarch and other butterflies and insects.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Learn About Land Management Reviews

The schedule for the 2017/2018 Land Management Reviews is out. Being a part of Land Management Reviews is an important part of the Florida Native Plant Society mission to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. It is also a very rewarding experience for anyone who has participated in one.

At the Florida Native Plant Society's 37th Annual Conference in May there will be a special field trip where you can Learn About Land Management Reviews. The site for the Thursday morning training will be Lake Kissimmee State Park. Led by Eugene Kelly and Eric Egensteine (Park Manager), this trip is designed to serve as a case study for the state’s Land Management Review process.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower:Spanish Needle

Spanish Needle, Bidens Alba
Submitted by Donna Bollenbach, Suncoast Chapter

Biden's alba, all photos by Donna Bollenbach
Nothing attracts more butterflies and bees than a simple white flower called Bidens alba. Also called Romerillo, Beggar’s Tick, Spanish Needle or Monkey’s Lice, this Florida native wildflower is the third most reliable source of nectar for pollinators in our state. There would be many starving bees and butterflies if not for the Bidens family of flowers. More so, Bidens alba and its sister plant, Bidens pilosa, are both edible and have medicinal value. Yet, many gardeners have a love/hate relationship the plant, and some even consider it a pesky weed. Why?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Scrub Lupine

McFarlin’s Lupine/Scrub Lupine, Lupinus westianus var. aridorum / Lupinus aridorium
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter

Scrub Lupine, photo by Tom Palmer

This pink-flowered endemic wildflower blooms in spring in a decreasing number of locations on the Winter Haven and Mt. Dora ridges in Polk and  Orange counties.  It is a federally listed endangered species, and unlike many scrub species, it is  unknown within the Lake Wales Ridge. 

Although this plant was first proposed to be considered a separate species by James Brigham McFarlin in the 1930s, it was not formally described until 1982 by John Beckner. It was later reclassified as a variety of Lupinus westianus by Duane Isley, but a current genetic evaluation of Florida lupines reportedly may result in changes in the nomenclature that may restore it to full species status.

Scrub lupines are easily identified by pink blossoms as well as the absence of stipules, which will L. diffusus, a more common Central Florida species, when the plants are not blooming.
help to distinguish it from

Young Scrub Lupine Seedlings at Lake Blue Scrub
photo by  Donna Bollenbach
Although Scrub Lupine was once found in scores of locations, the number of sites where it is still found has declined due to habitat degradation and development. The only protected sites where this lupine is found today are on a federal preserve that is not open to the public near Lake McLeod in Eagle Lake in Polk County and Bill Frederick Park, a county park in Orange County.

Seedlings that were propagated at Bok Tower’s Rare Plant Conservation Program have been brought to Lake Blue Scrub and Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Park in Polk County and to Wekiva Springs State Park and Tibet-Butler Preserve in Orange County, but whether these plantings will result in sustainable populations is still undetermined. 

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He has been referred to "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental." Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 

Other Links: 
Hawthorn Hill Wildflowers Blog: Scrub Lupine

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Conservation on a Working Ranch : Adams Ranch

FNPS Conference Field Trip Highlight: Adams Ranch
Day: Thursday, May 18 at 9 am.
Leaders: Anne Cox and Lee Ann Simmons

Rainbow over Adams Ranch,  Bud Adams/Photographer

Adams Ranch is a working cattle ranch with a long history of conservation. It is the model of a successful ranch that is also protecting and preserving environmentally sensitive lands. The ranch helps to preserve the rivers, swamps, marshes, prairies and wooded areas that are on its land, and in doing so protects critical habitat for native wildlife, such as bald eagles, alligators, bobcats, turkey, hawks, owls, Caracara and so much more.

Caracara, Donna Bollenbach/Photographer
This family owned business, established in 1937 by Alto Adams Sr, and his son Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr., is committed to preserving the natural vegetation, wildlife and its Florida heritage through environmental stewardship and a program of total ranch management. The ranch has won numerous conservation awards including awards from the Florida Audubon Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In a Tampa Bay Times article in 2015 by Michael Kruse, Florida rancher's wish: a legacy of his land pristine forever,  paraphrases Bud Adams:"What Adams wants, here near the end, coming up on 89 years old, is for the ranch land that bears his name, some 40,000 acres spread over four Florida counties, to remain the way it is — for his children, for their children, for the children's children." 

Come on this field trip to learn how a major agricultural operation can maintain valuable native habitats while running a quality cow/calf operation.  Ranches are a major component of natural connectivity in Florida, and this is a success story in merging ranching and environmental sustainability.

Adams Ranch, Bud Adams/Photographer

Your leaders are Dr. Anne Cox and FNPS past president.  LeeAnn Simmons is a 4th generation rancher and part of the Adams family.

To visit Adams Ranch, just choose Field Trip K when you register for the 2017 Florida Native Plant Society Conference. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Common Blue Violet

COMMON BLUE VIOLET, Viola sororia Willd.
Violet Family (Violaceae)

Submitted by Roger Hammer

Viola sororia, photo by Roger Hammer

The nearly orbicular, toothed leaves of this common species form a rosette measuring up to 3" across. The flowers reach ¾" wide and range from pale to rich blue (rarely white). It is not stoloniferous like many other members of the genus but may form dense colonies, especially along moist trails that bisect its habitat. It principally blooms from January through July in mesic forests throughout mainland Florida but plants may be found flowering throughout the year. In cultivation, it will spread from seed in pots and wherever there is moist, bare soil in shady situations. The seeds of many violets are explosively dehiscent and can be flung several feet away from the parent plant.

Viola is the classical Latin name for a violet and the name sororia means “sisterly,” alluding to its similarity to other violets. It is the state wildflower of Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Illinois, and New Jersey. Hover flies seek nectar from the flowers and are effective pollinators.

It was once called “lesbian flower” because, in the early 1900s, lesbians would offer flowers of this species to women they were wooing. This was called “sapphic desire” because the Greek poet Sappho (ca. 630–570 BC), who lived on the island of Lesbos (now Lesvos, and the source of the word “lesbian”) in the northeastern Aegean Sea, wrote a love poem about her lesbian partner wearing a garland of violet flowers, and violets still today remain a symbol for lesbian women. Sappho was a poetic genius who often mentioned Aphrodite, the goddess of love, in her poems, and would become the most acclaimed woman of ancient Greek history. After her death, Sappho was branded by the Christian church as a “whore” and her poetry was described as deviant works due to her “unnatural” love for other women. And all this became intertwined in the history of this simple violet flower, native to Florida.

Roger is a member of the FNPS Dade Chapter and is currently working on a new Falcon Guide titled Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowers, due to be released in Spring 2018. His other wildflower guides include Florida Keys Wildflowers (2004), Everglades Wildflowers (2nd edition, 2014), and Central Florida Wildflowers (2016).

Other links: 
USF Plant Atlas: Viola sororia

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Common Torchwood

Amyris  elemifera, Common Torchwood
Submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami-Dade Chapter 

Photo by  Beryn Harty, Taken on roadside, Ramrod Key, FL

Family Name: Rutaceae
Genus/Species: Amyris elemifera
Common Name:  Common Torchwood (Another common name is Sea Torchwood, which is deceiving because  it's salt tolerance is rather low. According to the IRC, " It grows near salt water, but should be protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation."

Native Range: Eastern peninsular Florida, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America (Belize)
What kind of plant is it? : A flowering tree?
Any interesting history: Green wood used as torches, twigs are burned as incense.
What is the shape, color and size of the flower? Clusters of tiny white flowers, new leaf growth often very dark purple

What is the typical natural habitat? Hammocks
What benefits does it have with wildlife? Provides food and cover for wildlife. Larval host for Bahamian and Schaus Swallowtail butterflies. Birds and mammals eat fruits.
Propagation: (seed, seedling)
Availability: Grown by some native nurseries.  Growing from seed sometimes successful (I’ve done it, myself).

Beryn Harty is a member of Miami-Dade Chapter FNPS as there is no current Keys chapter.  He lives full time on Ramrod Key. 

Other Links
IRC link: Common torchwood, Sea torchwood
USF Plant Atlas: Amyris elemifera
FNPS: Torchwood

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter 

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo by Tom Palmer

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) emerges in floodplain forests in most of Florida at the beginning of spring. The plant’s Latin name refers to its three prominent leaves that spread above the spathe that is the “pulpit” from which the common name (also known as Parson-in-the-Pulpit) derives.

Purple splotched spathe. Photo by Tom Palmer

The spathe ranges from green to purple. The plant also includes a cluster of red berries that ripen later in the year.

This plant is widespread, growing all over the Eastern United States and as far north as Nova Scotia. However the plant is not uniformly distributed and sometimes may be absent or infrequent in suitable habitat.

Arisaema triphyllum was once divided into two species (A. triphyllum and A. acuminatum) based on morphological differences described by Small and others. It was originally described as Arum triphyllum in 1753. Another common name is Indian turnip. The plant can be eaten as a root vegetable if it is dried and cooked. Eating the root raw can cause a “violent burning sensation,”  according to Small.  Other reports say eating the corm (fleshy taproots) raw can be fatal.

Native Americans reportedly used the plant for medicinal purposes to treat rheumatism, bronchitis and snakebites.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo by Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He has been referred to "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental." Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 

Additional links:

USF Atlas of Florida Plants: Arisaema triphyllum
FNPS Native Plants for Your Area: Arisaema triphyllum
Native Florida Wildflowers (C. Huegel) Blog: Jack-in-the_Pulpit

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reasons to Register NOW for the FNPS Conference

Submitted by Donna Bollenbach

Registration is now open for the 2017 FNPS Conference. If you know you’re going, you should register early. If you’re undecided, I'm going to try to persuade you! Consider this a sneak preview of what’s in store for you….

Reason #1: There’s Nothing Like It

South Florida Water Management Photo of Kissimmee River Restoration
Florida Native Plant Society President, Catherine Bowman sums it up: There is nothing like it:  You will be in a place of awe inspiring, thought provoking, energizing beauty in the heart of Florida.  The Kissimmee River and Everglades Restoration Areas will extend before you to the south, as the headwaters of the St. Johns River, with its restoration projects and recreational opportunities, flow to the north.  River Ranch, once a cattle trail stop, then a dude ranch, is now a comfortable resort in this rustic, history-rich part of Florida. From River Ranch, the Florida Trail will take you down to KICCO (for Kissimmee Island Cattle Company), now a ghost town with just a few sidewalks but lots of stories remaining.  From this central location, large diverse tracts of public conservation lands spread in all directions.  Field trips will guide you through these homes to threatened, endangered, and endemic plants and animals.  You will have opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from our honored guests as well as the naturalists, explorers, scientists, and educators who are among our FNPS family.  As we will learn about plant connections, we will learn more about our own connections with plant communities and with those who share our concern for native plants, their natural communities and the expanding areas where we are bringing them back to help heal our developed environments.  Come be surprised and be connected!

Reason #2: The Theme, Speakers & Presentations

The theme of the 37th Annual Conference of the Florida Native Plant Society is Connections: Above & Below. It will be held in the heart of Florida, and central to the largest river restoration project in the world! Many of our speakers and fieldtrips will address this restoration, what has already been done, and the challenges we face going forward. Whether your interest is promoting greenways, protecting waterways, or bringing a sense of place to your home landscape, you will leave with a better understanding where we are, where we need to be, and how you can help get it done.  See the preliminary schedule and read about all our great speakers, and presentation topics here.

Reason #3: The Field Trips & Workshops

On both Thursday May 18 and Sunday May 21 – you can choose from 20 field trips that match your interest and physical ability; from buggy rides to pontoon boats to strolling and hiking. Both full and half-day excursions are offered. Early registration increases your chance of getting your top choice of field trips! We will have trips that will let people see good land management practices and environmental stewardship on some of our working agricultural lands. These trips fill quickly—many will sell out! Register and choose your fieldtrips today.
Disney Wilderness Preserve, photo by Abel Valdivia
In lieu of a field trip, you can opt to learn something new or sharpen a skill by taking a workshop: FNPS conference photographer and Florida master naturalist, Vince Lamb, will be holding a Florida Wildflower Photography Workshop at Lake Kissimmee State Park. Palmetto editor and artist, Marjorie Shropshire, will teach Nature Journaling on and off the Trail, and James Stevenson, Extension Specialist in Pinellas County, will lead a class on Introduction to Plant ID.

Reason #4: The People

There’s something for everyone at the FNPS Conference:  Scholars, perpetual students, backyard naturalists, land managers, scientists, landscapers, butterfly enthusiasts, foresters, gardeners, outdoor lovers, and kids of all ages. The diversity of people and professions offer points of view that create a lively exchange of ideas in the sessions, halls, and socials. 

Janet Bowers, from Suncoast Chapter, supports that view: “I have attended the conference every year since the 2012 conference in Plant City. You never know who you will meet and are sure to find friends at the conferences.  It could be the conversation with a person you just met, or a new book about plants with the author who created it.  Come for the day, or come for the whole time, and experience a FNPS conference for yourself!”

Reason #5: The Venue

Our venue, the Westgate River Ranch Resort, is an upscale dude ranch in the heart of rural Florida, just south of SR 60 and south of Lake Kissimmee. Its unique character offers a variety of lodgings to fit every budget: Basic and deluxe guestroom suites, glamping (luxurious air-conditioned tents), RV and tent sites. Rooms are filling fast, so visit the FNPS conference website to Make Your Reservation Now.

How to Register and Reserve Your Room:

For Conference Registration: Register online before May 10, 2017 for the best rates. Use the appropriate link for your attendance type: Attendees/Vendors/Exhibitors, or Speakers/Landscape Award Winners (Conference Volunteers will be sent a separate link to register.)

 Online registration ends on May 11.  Registration will close between May 11-16, 2017. Onsite registration will open May 17, 2017 at 5:00pm and registration rates will increase by $25.00/day. 

For Conference Lodging:  Make sure you get the room you want and the special conference hotel rate by reserving your room now! Call 1-877-502-7058.  Please be sure to use FNPS Group Code (61-528) when making individual reservations.  The Resort’s Call Center’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8am to 12am, Saturday from 9am to 8pm and Sunday from 10am-6pm. These hours are subject to change

What are You Waiting For?  Register Today!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Venus Looking-Glass

Triodanis perfoliata 
Bellflower Family (Campanulaceae)

Photo and text submitted by Roger L. Hammer, Dade Chapter

Venus’ looking-glass is a native herbaceous annual with hairy, ribbed stems and ovate to elliptic, alternate, clasping leaves that reach about ⅜"–¾" long. The axillary, sessile, 5-lobed flowers measure about ⅜" across. 

Look for this species from February into May, mostly along roadsides and other disturbed sites through the Florida panhandle, across the northern peninsula, and south in the peninsula to Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hardee, Polk, Osceola, and Volusia counties. Globally it ranges from Argentina northward throughout the United States into British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

Native Americans made a tea of the roots and leaves to help relieve indigestion and also “to make one sick all day” as a treatment for overeating. The leaves were also smoked during ceremonies.  
Triodanis means “three-toothed” and possibly relates to the 3 calyx lobes on some flowers or the pores on the capsules. The name perfoliata refers to the stems that seemingly perforate the leaves. Belgium-born botanist and reverend Julius Arthur Nieuwland (1878–1936) placed it in the genus Triodanis in 1914. The common name alludes to the shiny seeds that resemble a looking glass, or tiny mirrors. Bees and small butterflies visit the flowers while buntings, goldfinches, and sparrows eat the seeds. One other species in Florida, Triodanis biflora, ranges discontinuously across the panhandle south in the peninsula as far as Highlands County

Roger is a member of the FNPS Dade Chapter and is currently working on a new Falcon Guide titled Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowersdue to be released in Spring 2018. His other wildflower guides include FloridaKeys Wildflowers (2004), Everglades Wildflowers (2nd edition,2014), and Central Florida Wildflowers (2016).

Other Links: 
USF Plant Atlas: Triodanis perfoliata