eNews 2020 01

 

December 2019 eNews for Broward Native Plants
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Beach False Foxglove
Agalinis fasciculata, wildflowers worth saving

All species that can be saved, need to be saved. We can't know what will be important to science, the environment, or people in the future. We would go further and say that every species has a right to continued existence. Below we describe the conservation problem in Broward and suggest how to fix it.
Photo: Alan Cressler

 BROWARD CHAPTER of the
Florida Native Plant Society

Promoting the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Broward County
Membership & Renewal
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January 2020 Events


Native Vines of Southeast Florida
and a Few Invasive Ones Too


with Adam Pitcher

 

Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m.


Secret Woods Nature Center
2701 W. State Rd. 84, Dania Beach, FL 33312

Some vines exploit the woody structures of other plants to gain high and light without expending as much energy on sturdy stems. Join us this Wednesday evening to learn from experienced botanist, Adam Pitcher, about successful strategies and species in the fascinating world of vines.

Adam is Urban Horticulture Program Assistant UF-IFAS, Broward County Extension in Davie. He graduated from Broward College with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Adam formerly worked for the USDA’s Invasive Plant Research Lab in Davie raising Lygodium biocontrol moths.  He also worked at Oleta River State Park with AmeriCorps doing invasive plant removal and native plant restoration.

Skyblue Cluster Vine, Jacquemontia pentanthos, a Florida Endangered vine native to South Florida


Joint Field Trip: Navy Wells Pineland Preserve

with John Geiger
 

Saturday, January 18, 9:30 a.m.


Navy Wells Pineland Preserve
SW 192nd Ave & SW 354th St,
Homestead, FL  33034
(drive into the parking lot at the pump facilities)
Navy Wells Pineland Preserve
Photo: Alan Cressler
John Geiger has presented at past FNPS conferences. He did his graduate research with Man-in-the-Ground, Ipomoea microdactyla, a beautiful red native morning glory which may (or not) be in flower at Navy Wells when we visit. We expect to see a nice diversity of wildflowers. We visited this Environmentally Endangered Land in March 2018, shortly after a burn. For those returning, it will be interesting to see changes in vegetation a year later and earlier in the year.

This 239-acre pine rockland was originally used as the well field for the Navy base in Key West and is still used as the drinking water supply well field for the Florida Keys. This Miami-Dade EEL preserve is critical habitat for the endangered Bartram’s hairstreak butterfly. 

Bring: Water and sun protection, long pants and sleeves, and closed-toe shoes are recommended. Walking will be short distances off-trail, sometimes on rocky or uneven ground. A walking stick can be helpful for balance.

Destination: Parking lot at the west end of of the intersection SW 354 Street at SW 192 Ave. The preserve is  west of Florida City just south of the fruit stand, "Robert is Here," which one may see or visit on the way to Everglades National Park.
 
Thank you to Steve Woodmansee and Patty Phares of the Dade Chapter for organizing this trip.


Saving Nature in Broward
Our Legacy for the Future

by Richard Brownscombe
Author's note: The stated mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to conserve, restore, and preserve native plants and native plant communities (habitats). A brief and compelling conservation statement for Broward, suitable for a brochure and print media, could establish goals for a broader collaboration. Except for sister nature organizations, few people understand the local conservation crisis. Please email me with improvements to the statement below to make it shorter or better. You will recognize photos from the "Nature in Broward: The Silent Crisis of Local Species Extinction" article we published in the Quarterly Journal of the Florida Native Plant Society, 35:1 2019. Better high resolution graphics or photos are also welcome. Help make this a statement we can all embrace.
The big picture of plant and wildlife species conservation in Broward is interesting and probably not as you might think. About 700 plant species are native to the county. Only two hundred species live in the vast Everglades Management Area wetlands that comprise the western two-thirds of the county beyond the dikes. The county’s great diversity, about 95 percent of all native plant species, live in the densely urban eastern third—in our cities. This populated eastern third of the county is the coastal ridge. The higher ground is better for building and we enjoy living near the coastline.
Historically the coastal ridge was the most biodiverse region with a far greater variety of interesting habitats. It is remarkable that so many species survived development and now live on so little land (see below).
Graphics by Broward County Parks Environmental Program, Erik Eckles

These last populations of indigenous plant and wildlife species living on these small and confined properties in bustling Broward, need our help and protection if they are to continue to survive within our cities.

Some species live in larger natural area parks like Fern Forest, but many more are in small preserves, pockets of trees behind chainlink fences, and what may look like overgrown lots. Poorly marked and poorly maintained natural areas are scattered across urban Broward in the midst of residential neighborhoods and in industrial areas and on busy streets. Altogether, well and poorly maintained, there are over 400 of them. One hundred are smaller than a city block. What appear to be vacant blocks may actually be ancient remnant habitat. Biodiversity requires a wide variety of habitat—some dry, some wet, freshwater or salty, forests, shrubs, scrub lands, old dunes, rock ridges, and grasslands. Each natural lot is important for the rare plants and wildlife that survive interdependently and only in a particular habitat. The public and our leaders are mostly unaware, but these last urban natural areas, (however shabby and unkept some now are) hold Broward’s legacy of critically imperiled, rare, and endangered species.

After World War II, Broward had about 730 recorded native plant species. Today we have about 620. About fifteen percent of historical species are now locally extinct. About a year ago, Broward County’s Environmental Program, the Institute for Regional Conservation, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens began cooperating to identify the remaining rare plants in Broward and record their locations. The work of identification is ongoing, but has already confirmed a rapid rate of local species extinction in urban Broward, perhaps one of the most rapid in Florida.

Habitat loss is the obvious driver of species loss. The roughly five hundred species now living on the populated coastal ridge have only three percent of the land to live on. We have put the other ninety-seven percent to human use. Under development pressures, some Broward cities are now taking from this last three percent of publicly-owned natural land and bulldozing it for human use instead of restoring or increasing protected land for nature. Anyone can confirm whether public natural habitat is actually protected or abused by searching the “Protected Natural Lands” map on the Broward County GIS map list (bcgis.broward.org/BC_Maps/InteractiveMaps.htm). Bring a report of natural area abuse, neglect, or threat to any chapter meeting so we can coordinate a response to the most egregious until the good care of every natural area is practice and policy countywide.

Species loss is also caused by certain aggressive exotic plants. The invasive ones rapidly consume light, water, nutrients, and space. They smother and kill native species, even large trees. Common Air-potato, Old World Climbing Fern, Brazilian Pepper, and Melaleuca are infamous invaders, but some common landscape plants, like Snake Plant and Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe), may be even more destructive on some preserves. Without natural insect pests the historical balance of nature has been tipped. Urban natural areas require a scientific program of invasive plant control to keep natural habitats healthy. Every urban natural habitat needs scientifically-informed care and maintenance. That work begins with knowing where the rare species live.

Common Air Potato before and soon after treatment
Photos by Broward County Parks Environmental Program

There is good news, too. This renewed effort to identify rare species has discovered species that we never knew we had in Broward. During the first year, Jimmy Lange, senior field botanist at Fairchild, has already found over 36 native species that were never before known to exist in Broward. We can find the remaining rare habitats and species of Broward and protect them at costs similar to recreational park maintenance. But the public and leaders need to know that these habitats are worth saving. We must fund not just recreational parks, but natural places in parks and special preserves for rare and last-remaining indigenous plants and wildlife.

Broward County has special maintenance staff caring for about 3,500 natural acres under county management, but this program is underfunded. County staff will, however, help cities understand how to locate rare plant and wildlife habitats and protect them from trampling and harm by workers and others. Secondly, invasive removal must be done with science, experience, and care. Finally, natural areas (preserves and areas within recreational parks) should be creatively-managed and expanded. They are assets for science, for the public enjoyment of nature, and they teach us about the changing environment. Imagine what it would mean to understand how nature is changing so we can employ natural defenses to climate change.

Examples of wildflowers extirpated from Broward most likely due to habitat loss.
Upper left: Big Yellow Milkwort, Polygala rugelii; right: Fewflower Milkweed, Asclepias lanceolata
Lower left: Coastalplain Milkwort, Polygala setacearight: Longlip Lady's-tresses, Spiranthes longilabris
Photos by Alan Cressler

Creatively restoring public areas and commercial landscapes and residential yards as native landscapes also helps nature. Native plants are the food supply and shelter for local and migrating wildlife—essential for birds, butterflies, pollinators and all other indigenous wildlife. With imaginative and attractive landscaping we can establish a more viable 5-10% of urban land for nature. Native landscaping requires imagination, experience, and resources to create landscapes that serve both nature and the human aesthetic. Dozens of Broward’s beautiful wildflowers that thrive in urban settings are still largely undiscovered and unavailable for lack of a thriving market.

This generation owes every child and future child a legacy of indigenous wildflowers and wildlife. Some species are endemic, that is, live nowhere else on the planet except South Florida. We have a responsibility to save nature in Broward for ourselves and for the world.

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 © 2020 Broward Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.


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