View this email in your browser
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward

FNPS Mission: To preserve, conserve, and restore native plants and native plant communities.
Learn more by visiting the FNPS website • Check our calendar for upcoming events sponsored by the Pinellas, Nature Coast, and Suncoast Chapters • Not a member yet? Join today!

Find us online at
Pinellas Chapter Website Pinellas Chapter Website
Facebook Facebook
YouTube YouTube
Instagram Instagram
Event Updates

Please see details for these events in the newsletter below and check our Facebook Group and website calendar for the most up-to-date information.
  • Tuesday, 7/6 and Saturday 7/17, 8 - 10 am - Moccasin Lake Butterfly Garden Volunteer Opportunity
  • Wednesday, 7/7 , 6:30 pm  - Integrated Vegetative Management - Zoom Presentation
  • Monday, 7/12,  6:30 pm - Conservation Committee Meeting - 6:30 to 7:30 on Zoom
View a profile of the Pinellas Chapter FNPS created for the 2021 FNPS Annual Conference.
Wed., July 7th, 6:30 pm
Zoom Video Meeting and Presentation

Integrated Vegetative Management
Stephen D. Robinson, Pinellas County Commercial Horticulture Agent

Integrated Vegetative Management (IVM) practices reduce the need for pesticides, promote   healthy ecosystems, and provide measurable results such as greater natural species diversity and better control of invasive species. Control options for IVM may include techniques such as biological, chemical, cultural, manual, mechanical and controlled burning.

Stephen D. Robinson oversees continuing education and certification for Pinellas County's 2400+ green industry and municipal clients.  He is responsible for distributing the latest IFAS research on horticultural practices.

Program 6:30 - 7:30. Submit questions in Zoom using the chat feature or email us ahead of time. Questions? Email

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 834 1577 1952
Passcode: 778935

Butterfly Garden Volunteer Opportunity
Tuesday, July 6th and Saturday, July 17th
8:00 am - 10:00 am

On July 6th landscape designer Nicole Jones will be leading a team of volunteers to lay new pinestraw mulch in the Butterfly Garden at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater. On July 17th the team will be weeding and pruning. This is a great opportunity to learn more about which plants attract and host our local butterflies, what conditions they prefer and how to prune them.

Please bring hand tools, work gloves and drinking water. The chapter will provide trash bags.

To join, please contact us at  Please also provide us with your cell phone number to be notified of last minute changes.

Have You Ordered Your Florida Native Plant License Plate?
FNPS has launched a fundraising and awareness campaign called “Show your pride in Natives”, which is represented in an official new Florida vehicle license plate. The “Florida Native” plate was painted by noted Florida artist Peter Agardy and features a wooded scene fashioned entirely of familiar Florida native plant species. Vouchers for the Florida Native license plate can be purchased at any county tax collector’s office in Florida, through the Florida Native Plant Society or through a separate online sales portal set up for the purpose. The cost of the voucher is $33, and as soon as 3,000 vouchers are sold, the plate will be printed and buyers will receive a new license plate for their voucher.

The plant in the center of the camouflage-styled plate is the species that serves as the symbol for the FNPS, the Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), a shrubby palm species that grows throughout the entire state of Florida, and is used by more than 100 bird species, 27 mammals, 25 amphibians, 61 reptiles, and countless insects as food and/or vegetative cover. The berries are important bear food, and the fan-shaped leaves have been widely used for thatch roofing, baskets, and mats by Native American tribes in Florida.

Other species painted on the tag by artist Peter Agardy include native pines, oaks, tillandsia, and the Greenfly Orchid. Also known as (Florida explorer William) Bartram’s Tree Orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae), the plant grows mostly in hammocks and swamps from south-central Florida north, typically on live oak and magnolia trees.

“As a Florida native, outdoorsman and wildlife artist, I was honored to capture and create some of Florida’s unique and native landscapes within the artwork for this license plate,” Agardy said. “From our pines to our oaks and other species of our native hammock habitat, our fragile ecosystem is always under attack, and I could not be happier to partner with the native plant society for this collaboration.”
Tropical Milkweed is Harmful to Monarchs & Florida Ecosystems

By Lilly Anderson-Messec (Reprinted from FNPS BLOG June 9, 2021)

The red and yellow blooms of tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, are ubiquitous in Florida butterfly gardens. This non-native milkweed has exploded in popularity as demand for milkweed grows to support declining monarch butterfly populations. This tropical species is native to Mexico and very easy to propagate, so growers are able to quickly produce plant material to meet the milkweed demand. It’s also very showy, blooming prolifically all season and regrowing quickly after being decimated by hungry caterpillars. 

Unfortunately, tropical milkweed has been an increasingly invasive species in Central and South Florida for many years, and has begun spreading in North Florida as well. It’s fast growth and prolific re-seeding have resulted in large monocultures of tropical milkweed in natural areas. This unchecked growth replaces native plants and disrupts the native ecosystems that both wildlife and humans rely on. The invasive quality of this plant is is just one of the reasons we recommend removing tropical milkweed in your yard. Unlike our native milkweed species which naturally senesce in the fall, the lush green foliage of tropical milkweed will stay up all winter if not killed back by frost, which has become a problem for the already imperiled monarch.

A protozoan parasite that evolved with monarch butterflies, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) lives on infected monarchs and is deposited on the plants they land on; especially when the butterflies lay eggs on the plants. The resulting caterpillars hatch and ingest the OE as they eat the plant, and the parasite is able to replicate inside them. Those caterpillars will grow into butterflies infected with an increased load of OE that they will shed on other milkweed plants they land on, continuing the cycle.

Many species across the animal kingdom have evolved with their own particular parasites – humans included. These parasites are often not too harmful to their host since their own survival is dependent upon the survival of their host. However, if the delicate balance between host and parasite is suddenly effected by a change in their environment, one of the pair may be given an advantage. If the parasite is allowed to accumulate too much, it can kill their host. Monarchs evolved with OE and are naturally able to prosper while still carrying a small amount of the parasite, but high OE levels in adult monarchs can cause them to fail to emerge from their pupal stage because they are too weak and unable to fully expand their wings. Monarchs with slightly high OE loads can appear normal, though they are usually somewhat smaller in size. Despite this survival, they don’t live as long, cannot fly as well, and are therefore unable to migrate successfully.

Our native milkweeds naturally senesce in the fall and stay leafless and dormant through the winter, which effectively cleans the plant of the seasonal OE parasite load. When the leaves die back, the parasite dies along with them so that when butterflies return each spring and summer, they feed on fresh, parasite-free foliage. In contrast, tropical milkweed remains evergreen throughout the winter, allowing OE levels to accumulate on the plant. The following generations of monarch caterpillars that feed on those plants are exposed to dangerous levels of OE.

As our winters have become increasingly warmer in North Florida, the invasive potential of tropical milkweed is growing. Warmer winters also mean tropical milkweed is less likely to be killed by frost and more likely to accumulate excessive OE on its leaves. Tropical milkweed can also interfere with monarch migration and reproduction. In northern areas it grows later into the season than native species do, and some studies have shown that just the presence of tropical milkweed may confuse monarchs into breeding at a time when they should be migrating. There is evidence that suggests the chemical composition of tropical milkweed may trigger this disruption of the innate migration cycle of the monarchs that interact with it. This creates a trap for monarchs, as they are fooled into thinking that they have arrived in the safe wintering grounds of Mexico, when they are not - and the inevitable winter freeze kills them.

With the mounting evidence of the detrimental effects of tropical milkweed, many organizations involved in monarch conservation, such as the Xerces Society and Monarch Joint Venture have begun recommending against planting non-native milkweed - even going so far as to recommend NO milkweed if native species are not available.  Many native plant nurseries have heeded the call to stop selling non-native milkweed species. Unfortunately, many growers are still working to build adequate supplies of stock to meet the ever-increasing demand. Though supplies are limited of native species, we would recommend that it is better to be without milkweed than to buy or sell tropical milkweed. Likewise, if you have it in your yard, or notice it in natural areas - please consider removing it. While it may feed our monarchs in the short term, it is harmful to the species as a whole in the long term.

If you cannot find native milkweed species at your local garden center, request it! Be specific, and ask for native Florida eco-types by their scientific name (some species recommendations can be found below). You may have more success if you can find a nursery near you that specializes in native plants. You can find a list of native plant nurseries across the state, and even see what plants they carry at - just click on ‘Retail Nurseries/Garden Centers’, select your county, and then you will see a map of nearby nurseries and can check their plant lists. It is best to call the nursery before you go to be sure of current availability, which may change daily.

The Florida Wildflower Growers Coop is a great resource for native Florida ecotype seed, and they sell a few native milkweed species. Their website:


Which Florida Native Milkweed Should I Choose?

Florida has 21 species of native Asclepias, also known as milkweeds. Many of these species are slow to mature and can be difficult to grow as well. However, there are a few species that are well suited for home gardeners and are becoming more available in the horticultural trade. Please be patient with nurseries and growers that are continuing to work to provide an increasing variety of native species. It takes years to learn the best propagation methods and accrue adequate stock to supply the enormous demand. The following species are the easiest and fastest growing, and more likely to be available. They are relatively adaptable to different growing conditions and provide adequate leaf matter for caterpillars:


Asclepias incarnata

A pink-blooming native milkweed that gets big! It grows 4-6ft tall, providing the most amount of foliage for caterpillars (of our native milkweeds). These plants regenerate leaf matter quickly during the growing season and have a short season of bloom in late summer – providing nectar-rich blooms for adult butterflies and other pollinators. They grow best in full sun with moist to wet soils, rich in organic matter. I have found this species to be adaptable in my yard in part sun with average moisture and clay soil amended with compost. Sandy soils could also be amended with organic matter to improve moisture retention.


Asclepias perennis

This free-flowering native milkweed usually only grows 12-24 inches tall, continually sending up stalks topped with white blooms that sometimes have a pink blush. They grow best in full sun with moist to wet soils – even growing directly in water! I’ve found them to be adaptable to quite a bit of shade, average moisture and clay soils. Again, sandy soils could be amended with organic matter to improve moisture retention. The leaves provide substantial larval food for butterflies, and the constant flowers attract lots of adult butterflies as well as many other pollinators.

Asclepias tuberosa

One of the most common and noticeable native milkweed species, the clusters of electric orange blooms are seen on roadsides from Florida to Canada. When buying plants with such a large native range, it is important to find plants that are grown from seed sources in your region – this is called an “eco-type”. This species grows best in full to part sun and average to dry soils – it can be very drought tolerant once it has an established root system. I’ve found these plants to be pretty tough and low-maintenance, and adaptable to sandy or light clay soils, however they are not as quick to rebound with fresh growth after caterpillars have munched them, and are often not the first choice milkweed for monarchs since they are low in the toxic alkaloids that protect monarchs from predation. Butterflyweed typically blooms in spring, and then will often rebloom again later in the summer.



When purchasing any native plant at a nursery, you should always know what you are looking for and how to identify the plant before you buy - nurseries and growers make mistakes and you may end up buying and planting an invasive species. Be especially careful when purchasing Asclepias tuberosa at large box stores that have been known to erroneously sell Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, labeled as our native Butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa. You can easily differentiate the two by looking at the leaves and stems (see comparison photos above). Also, true Asclepias tuberosa does not produce a noticeable amount of the sticky latex sap when a leaf is broken, while Asclepias curassavica will. 
Asclepias lanceolata
Few-flower milkweed is another native species that can often be confused with Tropical Milkweed. It is not commonly available in the horticulture trade, but if you think you have found Tropical Milkweed in a natural area, make sure to confirm it is not actually Asclepias lanceolata before you remove it! Asclepias lanceolata flowers look very similar to A. curassavica flowers, but the leaves of A. lanceolata are much longer and more narrow, and the plants are generally more lanky and tall - see photos below for comparison of these species.

  1. List of 46 conservation areas in Florida reported by the Institute for Regional Conservation to have naturalized populations of Asclepias curassavica;
  2. Reseach article: Climate change and an invasive, tropical milkweed: an ecological trap for monarch butterflies
  3. Research article: Loss of migratory behaviour increases infection risk for a butterfly host
  4. Xerces Society: Tropical Milkweed—a No-Grow
  5. Rearing Monarchs Responsibily
  6. Share this fact sheet with local growers, farmers and nurseries to encourage them to grow native milkweed:
  7. Research article: Exposure to Non-Native Tropical Milkweed Promotes Reproductive Development in Migratory Monarch Butterflies, Ania A. Majewska and  Sonia Altizer


City of St. Petersburg Parks & Rec has been busy making major improvements at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, notably the new Terry Tomalin Campground - St. Pete's first public primitive urban camping experience.

Other visit-worthy improvements:
  • Construction of Hammock Hall - the new welcome and education center
  • Expanded public access with two additional miles of nature trails
  • Wetland restoration
  • Additional parking (exciting, right??)
Stop by Boyd Hill to explore, and find more info at

Conservation Corner

This feature of our monthly newsletter will highlight local conservation issues and opportunities for our members to influence decision making by our local, state and federal governments. If you have issues you would like the Conservation committee to explore, email them to

By Jane Graham, Conservation Chair


Gladys Douglas Hackworth Preserve

The Pinellas Chapter was recently awarded the FNPS 2021 Conservation Grant for the purpose of conducting a year long floristic survey of the Gladys Douglas Hackworth Preserve in Dunedin. The project has matching funds from Clearwater Audubon Society and the Pinellas Chapter. Grant monies have been received, and project leader Debbie Chayet is working with PCFNPS board leadership to draft agreements between all the project partners, secure appropriate insurance and put in place policies and procedures for volunteers. Work is expected to start this summer.

Conservation Committee Has Open Seats

The Conservation Committee of our chapter currently has several open seats. Our Board considers it critical to hear the voice of our members to discuss strategy and formulate policies regarding local conservations issues. The Conservation Committee meets monthly, usually on the 2nd Monday of the month. Our next meeting is Monday, July 12, 2021 by Zoom. If you haven’t contacted us already and are interested, please email Jane Graham at for more information.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Pinellas Chapter has several volunteer opportunities that will allow you to channel your passion for native plants and conservation into helping the chapter fulfill its mission. Many volunteer positions require just a few hours a month, and most duties can be performed at your home. If you are interested in applying or would like more information, email

Florida Botanical Garden, Native Garden Maintenance
  • Bi-Weekly maintenance of the Native Plant Garden at the FBG in Largo.
  • Identify and prune existing native plants according to seasonal growth and bloom cycles. Identify and relocate native plant seedlings.
  • Identify and remove weeds and non-native seedlings.
  • Assist with updating signage as needed.
  • Keep records of volunteer hours and report them to FNPS.
  • (2 - 4 hours per month)
Volunteer Committee Member
  • Recruiting volunteers for special projects and the speakers bureau utilizing social media, emails, and special events.
  • Collecting volunteer contact information, availability and skills, and maintaining a volunteer database.
  • Keeping new and existing volunteers informed about the organization’s volunteer opportunities, matching volunteers to opportunities that suit their skill sets, and ensuring they understand their responsibilities and receive the proper training.
  • Keeping records of volunteers' hours and reporting them to FNPS.
  • Motivate and reward volunteers through a volunteer appreciation program. 
  • (2 - 4 hours per month)
Volunteer Coordinator - Director-at-Large 
  • Recruiting, training, and supervising members of the Volunteer Committee.
  • Serve on the Board of Directors and attend the monthly virtual board meeting. (About 2 evening hrs month.)
  • (4 - 6 hours per month)
  • See job description.
Newsletter Editor
  • Compile newsletter content about chapter events, plant profiles, local issues, or other topics of interest to members for twice monthly newsletter.
  • Source newsletter content from Feature Writer, committee chairpersons, virtual board meetings, other chapters and other environmental/conservation organizations.
  • Edit articles and format newsletter to be sent electronically using Mailchimp software or other desktop publishing software of Editor's choice.
  • Write occasional direct emails to members on special events or topics.
  • (2 - 4 hours per month)

Invasive Species

Friend or Foe?
The Cuplet Fern Chapter invites you to join them on Friday, July 23rd at 12 noon for the CISMA Invasive Species virtual event.

Are invasive species more of a burden to our economy and environment than an asset? Join us to learn more about invasive species, how they got here and if we should be concerned. Specific plant and animal species will be covered.  

This virtual event will be held in lieu of our regular monthly program. 

Register here: 

Good news! We resume our monthly meetings in-person Sept 13th at Seminole IFAS, 7pm.

Visit Cuplet Fern 

Thank You To Our Business Members

Bartlett Law Offices
City of Dunedin Parks Department
City of St. Pete Beach
Hort & Soul Landscape Design
Rebecca Wellborn, Realtor, Coastal Properties Group
Sunshine City Law 
Vision Ace Hardware - Oldsmar
Wilcox Nursery & Landscape
Wild Floridian LLC

Wise Hands Professional Gardening Services

Pinellas Chapter Florida Native Plant Society
2021 Officers, Directors and Committee Chairs

President - Michael Coleman
Vice President - Stefan Babjack
Secretary - Sari Wood
Treasurer - Robin Peacock
Past President - Jan Allyn
Director / Chapter Representative - David Perkey
Director / Conservation Chair - Jane Graham
Director / Membership Chair - Ginger Brengle
Director / Programs Chair - Pam Schrader
Director / Events & Volunteer Chair - Nicole Jones
Director / Feature Writer - Debora Moran
Communications Chair - Rebecca Wellborn
Webmaster - Patty Perkey


Florida Native Plant Society Mission

The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.

The Society fulfills this mission through:
  • Support for conservation land acquisition
  • Land management that enhances habitat suitability for native plants
  • Education
  • Public policies that protect our native flora, especially rare species
  • Research on native plant species
  • Encouragement of local landscaping practices and policies that preserve Florida's native plant heritage
Join/Renew Membership
Copyright © 2021 Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp