eNews 2019 12

December 2019 eNews for Broward Native Plants
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White Sunbonnets
Chaptalia albicans
Photo: Richard Brownscombe

Florida Native Plant Society

Promoting the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Broward County
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December 2019 Events

Planting for Life: How To Make Your Yard Your Bird Feeder

with Ann Wiley


Wednesday, December 11, 7 p.m.

Secret Woods Nature Center
2701 W. State Rd. 84, Dania Beach, FL 33312
Starting by planting the wrong plants in the wrong place I grew to understand well what it takes to create a comfortable, safe living space for songbirds. As their habitats vanish and their refueling stations are paved over, more and more, Back Yards Matter. YOUR Yard Matters! Learn beautiful and effective landscaping principals that help these jewels and songs of the sky on their epic journey for survival.
Ann moved to Florida in the mid 80’s developing an interest in South Florida wildlife and ecology. She’s worked in sea turtle conservation for 30 years: tagging, measuring, excavating, rescuing & releasing green, leatherback and loggerhead hatchings disoriented by coastal lighting. She currently leads ecological tours for Dragonfly Expeditions, leading tours throughout South Florida and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. She’s a regular lecturer for Road Scholar in Florida and encourages others to created backyard landscaping that supports songbirds and life.

Field Trip: Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park

with Steve Woodmansee

Saturday, December 14, 9:00 a.m. to noon-ish

Coe Visitor Center, Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034
Long Pine Key Nature Trail, Everglades National Park
Photo: Miguel.v, CC 2012
A walk with Steve Woodmansee (expert botanist and owner of ProNative Consulting) around the pinelands, prairies, and Mosier Hammock, north of the lake at Long Pine Key campground on December 14, 2019.

We will meet in the Coe Visitor Center parking lot (address and link above) to carpool to the Long Pine Key nature trail at 9 a.m. Vehicle fee without a National Park Pass is $30, but some people are likely to have a pass, so join a carpool for free entry or share the cost among passengers in the vehicle. Remember to bring your National Park Pass, if you have one. Call Steve 786-488-3101 or Richard 954-661-6289 if you need to, but be aware that cell phone reception may not be reliable (best to plan to arrive a little early).

"The vegetation of Long Pine Key is dominated by pine rocklands, marl prairies and rockland hammocks, ecosystems that harbor a number of rare plant and animal species including federally-listed species and candidates, South Florida endemics, and tropical species at or near the northern limit of their ranges. Long Pine Key has long been recognized as one of the most important regions in southern Florida for vascular plant diversity and has been researched by a number of prominent botanists and naturalists including John Kunkel Small, Frank C. Craighead and George N. Avery," Rare Plant Monitoring and Restoration on Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park, George D. Gann, Kirsten N. Hines, Emilie V. Grahl and Steven W. Woodmansee, 2006.

White Sunbonnets
Chaptalia albicans

by Richard Brownscombe
White Sunbonnets, Chaptalia albicans, is one of many wildflowers at home in the understory of pine rocklands and, for me, a particularly delightful one. It is diminutive at 3-6" with a taller flower stalk. The flowers pictured are fully open exposing the many tightly-clustered disc flowers at its center, typical of Asteraceae. At maturity each seed or achene has a "parachute" or umbrella-like pappus very similar to the Common Dandelion. Like a dandelion, the orb of pappa (see cropped photo below by Mauricio Mercadante) tend to release a few seeds at a time on the breeze.

White Sunbonnets have been found growing natively as close as 3 miles from Broward's southern border, but it is not known to be native to Broward.
Chaptalia albicans is a very rare, Florida Threatened wildflower so I was surprised to see it in a wholesale nursery, albeit, a small number of them. The soil for this species is described by the Institute for Regional Conservation (all species search), Natives for Your Neighborhood (cultivated plant search), as, "...well-drained limestone soils, without humus," typical of rockland soil and limestone soils elsewhere in South Florida. Based on a few examples in cultivation, I suspect that this species does not require limestone soils to thrive.
Soils best for fast cultivation (an economic necessity) and nursery settings are commonly strikingly different from natural soils. Sometimes these growing conditions change the form (size and shape) of native plants significantly.

Perhaps Sunbonnets are an easy rock garden species, a setting where small and interesting wildflowers would be noticed. Replicating limestone soils and rockland conditions in an urban landscape might achieve more natural forms, not especially for Sunbonnets, but for any number of rare wildflowers and plants. Withholding fertilizer and allowing drought-tolerant species to go without supplemental water once established, may improve their naturally appealing characteristics or improve a plant's functional value for wildlife. Growing from seed within a replicated landscape could work well for some species like the White Sunbonnet.

Creating landscapes with replicated soil and moisture conditions not only protects the environment from chemical fertilizers and excessive irrigation, but challenges the landscaper to design a more interesting and educational garden. From a purely aesthetic point of view, different soil types, rocks, sinkholes, open sand, and water can greatly enhance the interest of a garden. Tired of mulch? Look to nature for inspiration to vary the substrate and the species best suited to that substrate.

Note to landscapers and apartment dwellers: Limestone soil is easy to replicate with a layer of limestone rock fill, the most common fill available in South Florida. But rocklands also capture rainfall in the solid rock layer. So plants growing in full sun may also require an impervious layer below to capture rain and slowly wick moisture back up into the sand and detritus that fills rockland cavities. Pool liner or a concrete box (with drain holes above a reservoir of captured rainwater) could keep sandy limestone soils moist. Let us know your experience in replicating rockland and sandy limestone conditions. Rock garden landscaping certainly could have a place in urban landscaping where small and rare limestone-soil plants can been seen up close. Rock gardens might work well for small areas, on plazas, or on rooftops. Everyone can experiment with creating small native plant rock gardens, even apartment dwellers.

When we visit Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park with Steve Woodmansee, we can ask if Sunbonnets grow there and learn what other species thrive in limestone soils. We never collect seed or plant tissue in the wild or on any FNPS field trip. However, we can legally obtain seed from some species, so just ask at the beginning of any Broward Chapter meeting if you want seed to try your hand at growing a locally-sourced species.
Chaptalia albicans, White Sunbonnets
Photos: Richard Brownscombe
The Broward Chapter is on Facebook. Like us. Participate in the conversation.
Speaker events are on 2nd Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Secret Woods (except July & August).
Field Trips are usually on a following weekend but they vary,
so always check the Calendar and check again for last-minute trip updates.
Visit Coontie.org for a wealth of information about local plants.
Copyright © 2019 Broward Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.

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