September 2015
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September 1 Program
Florida's Disappearing Sandhill Communities

presented by Ron Blair

     Sandhill was historically widespread throughout the Southeastern U.S. coastal plain. In Florida, sandhill occurs predominantly in the northern half of the state on deep, well-drained, relatively infertile soils that maintain xeric conditions. Fire frequency in the interval of years and timing within the year is regarded as essential for maintaining the structure and diversity of the sandhill plant community. In addition, sandhills demonstrate considerable seasonal variation, with many plants flowering in the fall and early winter. However, even when there are few flowers, sandhills are interesting to the careful observer and beautiful to the casual visitor. Ron Blair will define the sandhill community and provide a snapshot in time of some examples.     
     Ron Blair has been a member of the Florida Native Plant Society for more than 20 years, and is a past president of the Tarflower Chapter. He is a Florida native, whose early interests in the outdoors were kindled by the accessible aquatic life near his family’s residence in Key West. He is a graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction, and Planning and is a practicing architect. He is also a graduate of Rollins College Department of Environmental Studies. Currently, he is a partner in a start-up firm, Bowman and Blair Ecology and Design Inc., with long-term member and past Tarflower Chapter president Catherine Bowman, providing both ecological and design services. He has been quite involved in state land management reviews as a Society member, and most recently participated in the unit management plan reviews for all three of the state parks occurring in the Wekiva River Basin, including Wekiva Springs State Park, which includes more than 1,200 acres of sandhill community. His experience with sandhills includes other natural areas as well as his own small parcel of sandhill property in Gilchrist County, which he has been restoring. 
September 12 Field Trip 
Seminole State Forest Warea Tract 

     This is a great chance to see some very endangered wildflowers including clasping warea and Florida bonamia, along with other fine fall wildflowers.

Where: Warea Tract of the Seminole State Forest
            17419 W Phil C Peters Road
            Winter Garden, Florida  34787
When: Saturday, September 12, 9a.m.*

Directions: First, get to Avalon Rd in West Orange County. One way to get there from downtown Orlando is to take the E/W Expwy (408) west to Good Homes Rd. Go left a short way to Old Winter Garden Rd. Turn right (west) and go to the end of this road, then turn left on Maguire. Take Maguire south to Roberson. Take Roberson west. The name will change to Stoney Brook. Keep going all the way to Avalon. Now stop at the Publix on the left in Stoneybrook West Village (address is 15502 Stoneybrook West Parkway, Winter Garden). This is for restrooms and carpooling. It should be no later than 8:30. It takes just another twelve minutes to reach the site.
After Publix, take Avalon left (south). Avalon will make two right angle turns so that you go west, then south again. Then it is about a mile to the final turn to the right on Phil C  Peters Rd. Go a little over a mile, crossing the Lake County boundary, and you will see a forestry service truck on the right. You have arrived.

*Be sure to arrive at the nearest Publix by 8:30 for a pit stop and if carpooling. There are no restrooms on site.
OCT 6 Program
Bulletproof Natives to Start Planting Now presented by Amanda Martin

OCT 10 Field Trip
OCT 10
Master Gardener Plant Sale
OCT 24
3rd Annual Backyard
Biodiversity Day
Where: Mead Botanical Garden, Winter Park MAP
Volunteers are needed! See details in this issue.
To help at an upcoming event, contact Jim Erwin at 407-454-3882 or email. To participate in monthly workdays at Mead Garden, contact Catherine Bowman at 407-761-7109 or email. See the events calendar above for details of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.
What do YouTube viewers, Girl Scouts and Florida plein air painters have in common?  
     They will all be among the hundreds of people who will see Tarflower’s sandhill planting area around the gopher tortoise burrows at Mead Botanical Garden. On September 15, at the final planning meeting for the 3rd Annual Backyard Biodiversity Day, the planning committee (it was Amanda’s excellent and fun idea) will shoot a video spotlighting BBD for posting on YouTube! Girl Scout volunteers will be working at BBD and Florida plein air painters will be in various parts of the garden painting and talking to visitors. We want the girls and the painters to be able to learn about the native plants and communities at Mead Garden and it would be particularly nice if the new natives in the tortoise area looked really good for them – and for all BBD visitors.
     As of mid-August, Tarflower volunteers have removed undesirable vegetation from about a third of the planting area, primarily Mexican clover (Richardia brasiliensis), large nut sedge (Cyperus sp.), crab grasses (Digitaria sp.) and chamber bitter (Phyllanthus urinaria). Tortoises have eaten so much of the goldenaster (Pityopsis sp.) that we are installing more. We are also putting in more Elliott’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii), chalky bluestem (Andropogon virginicus) and 40 or 50 interesting plants that were salvaged from Pine Ridge landfill, including numerous large blazing star (Liatris sp.), pineland dropseed (Sporobolus junceus), goat’s rue (Tephrosia virginiana), scurf hoarypea (Tephrosia chrysophylla), and Florida alicia (Chapmania floridana).
     The plants that were installed at last year’s BBD are mostly doing well: the persimmon patch is putting on new growth; the Darrow’s blueberries (Vaccinium darrowii) had fruit this spring and look attractively blue-green; the tall ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia) are blooming; chalky bluestem are shooting up to flower; most of the wiregrass (Aristida stricta) have survived and are starting to look fluffier; Chapman’s goldenrod (Solidago odora var. chapmanii) are starting to bloom; and the garberia (Garberia heterophylla) look like they are just beginning to send up flower stalks. The elephant’s foot (Elephantopus sp.) that Lyrae Williams planted near the edge of the paved trail are very happy in their hot, sunny spot. In general, it is all looking pretty good for the first year. Thanks to all of those, like Cecie Catron, who have put in many hours weeding, hand watering, and planting!
     If you have time to volunteer some hours in the next few weeks to help with the weeding and/or planting, please call Catherine Bowman at 407-637-5883 or 407-761-7109. If it is convenient for you to stop by and do a little weeding on your own, please stay 10 feet away from the burrows and use only your hands or small trowel to remove the weeds, rather than a hoe or other equipment to clear the larger, more visible plants such as the Richardia. We want to extract just the unwanted plants as there are many small grasses, young ironweed and goldenaster, and other desirable seedlings among them; and we want to keep newly exposed soil and weed seeds to a minimum.
Backyard Biodiversity Day—Volunteers Needed!  
    Volunteers are needed to help set up on Friday, October 23 (1–3p.m. or later), at the plant sale on Saturday, October 24 (between 8a.m. and 3p.m.) and to help tear down on Saturday, October 24 (3p.m.). If you are interested, please contact Catherine Bowman at
     Volunteers are needed to assist in the children's activities area on Saturday, October 24 between 8a.m. and 3p.m. No crafting skills required! Please come share your love for native plants and wildlife with youngsters and their families. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Rachel Kessler at
     Note: Volunteers may work in shifts.
Vote Jim Thomas for Cox Conserves Heroes Award— win $20,000 for Oakland Nature Preserve 

     Jim Thomas has volunteered for more than 60 years to preserve the Florida he knew as a child. In 1991, he formed Friends of Lake Apopka, whose mission focuses on the restoration of the lake after decades of drainage and farming runoff. Under his leadership, the Lake Apopka Restoration Act passed in 1996, allowing the muck farms to be purchased and halting ongoing water pollution.  
     In 1999, he led the formation of the Oakland Nature Preserve, a 128-acre area adjacent to the lake which provides enhanced open space, wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities. Through education and volunteer engagement, he has helped protect and restore one of Florida’s natural treasures.
Jim is one of three finalists for this year's Cox Conserves Heroes Award, and his nonprofit of choice is Oakland Nature Preserve. 

     Created in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, Cox Conserves Heroes recognizes local environmental volunteers and donates $20,000 to local nonprofits on behalf of the winner and finalists. 
Master Naturalist Program scholarship available by Jackie Rolly  

Good news! The Tarflower board has approved to fund one individual to take the uplands module of the Florida Master Naturalist Program being offered at Oakland Nature Preserve every Friday from October 2 through November 6. The cost of the course is $225. In order to be considered for a full scholarship, please submit a short email indicating why you should be funded to Jackie Rolly at Selection will be based on need and/or contribution to the mission of the Florida Native Plant Society.
     For more information on the Florida Master Naturalist Program and the uplands module, go to (Note: In the event this course is cancelled, no funding will be made available. Check the website under registration for more information.)
Soils Workshop Report by Amanda Martin
     Our soils workshop at Mead Garden went really well and promises to be the first workshop of many. Jim Erwin facilitated the event by delivering bags of potting soil, sand and pine bark fines for us to play with. We had four flats of 4-inch plants purchased from Green Isle Gardens to 'bump up' into 1-gallon containers. Starting the workshop at 5pm was a good idea. The heat of the day was subsiding as an overcast sky held back its rains.
     We gathered by benches under a huge oak tree just outside the native plant garden. Nancy Tyree and other volunteers are doing an excellent job in the native garden. The pathways were defined by mature partridge pea in full bloom. Dotted horsemint was standing tall and proud as it offered nectar to hungry bumblebees, solitary bees and various wasps who couldn't stop providing their pollination services to bother with onlookers. Several of us stopped to admire the breadth of the firebush. Once nestled in the surrounding beautyberry, it now stands solid in its own space, easily twice as tall as its neighbors. I am confident we could use the garden for a cuttings propagation workshop in the spring and cultivate the diversity we need for the Master Gardener plant sale.
     Cynthia Hasenau, Mead Garden's executive director, came by to open the discovery barn so we could access cold water and suggested we set up in the breezy pole barn the next time. Note taken. If you haven't been by Mead Garden in the last few weeks, you will be pleasantly surprised by the redesign leading to the Discovery Barn and Grove Performance Pavilion. Field stone, coonties and pine trees now decorate the once barren driveway, separating vehicle traffic from pedestrian paths. I'm sure you can tell that I am very pleased with everyone's hard work. It makes me proud to host the Backyard Biodiversity Day in such a beautiful, natural, botanical garden — a botanical garden that is open to the Tarflower Chapter, Orange Audubon and other organizations to make our home. 
     After our members gathered for the workshop, gloves and trowels in hand, we began discussing the various types of soils we find in the natural environment as well as what we had purchased from the garden center. The objective of the workshop was to explain the soils we were mimicking and how we can augment the mixture. We wanted to optimize root growth within the confines of a container knowing there would be water supply issues. When a plant is in a container, the roots cannot reach out and find water. When supplemental water is provided, rapid downward movement occurs and a 100% sand container will dry out very quickly since there is no organic matter or peat to hold it back. Additionally, when a plant is in a container, it is physically above ground, therefore subject to higher temperatures within the root zone which can cause evaporation — an added stress. We set to mixing the various soils and amendments to reach a blend of air space and organic matter while maintaining a physical lightness of the mixture that would provide the roots with everything they need to grow. A strong root system will yield a healthy top. Bright blossoms and viable seeds are sure to follow. 
     Come check in with us at the Master Gardener plant sale on October 10 and see how we did!
Scrub Community Rescue and Reintroduction by Jackie Rolly
     The Rare Plant Conservation Program at Bok Tower Gardens partnered with the Florida Native Plant Society, Sierra Club, Green Isle Gardens, and hundreds of volunteers and concerned citizens to rescue an entire scrub community of plant species within a 100-acre development site near Orlando. 
     Once numbering tens of thousands of acres, today there are only about 700 acres of the imperiled scrub community remaining on the southern portion of the Mt. Dora Ridge — and nearly 500 acres are slated for development. The “ridge” is an ancient sand dune that, during interglacial periods, was an isolated island. The ridge runs from Apopka at its northern end to northern Osceola County. The scrub community of species evolved together on this island for millions of years and there are plants and animals in this community that are endemic to Florida — meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world! 
     More than 6,000 plants, 30,000 seeds, and hundreds of cuttings were collected from the development site. Populations of 83 native plant species were rescued, including five species of lichens. All rescued plants were planted into the only publically-protected scrub community sites available near the development site: Bill Frederick Park, Shadow Bay Park, and Oakland Nature Preserve.
     More than 1,000 work hours were donated by volunteers from August 2014 until the final planting day on June 11, 2015. Many people traveled over 100 miles each day to help out on this important project. Green Isle Gardens, a native plant nursery in Groveland, donated nursery space and staff to help harden off thousands of plants. Work continued through rain, the heat of summer, and cold days in winter.
     The next time you visit Bill Frederick Park, Shadow Bay Park, or Oakland Nature Preserve, please take a few minutes to consider how vitally important these public spaces are for plants, animals, and people!
Wild Genus of the Month—Morning Glories (mostly Ipomoeaby Pete Dunkelberg
     About 24 species of Ipomoea are found in Florida, of which just 13 are considered native. Many of the native ones are not common or are only found in a few counties. I only have pictures of a few common species, but these will provide some idea of variation in the genus. In preparing this article, I ran into a good bit of information and misinformation regarding which species are edible, toxic or perhaps stimulating. Keep in mind that any plants or plant parts not known to be safe should be considered dangerous. I can personally recommend only one plant in this genus for ingestion and that is the non-native I. batatas (aka sweet potato). Now, on to the flowers.
     The oceanblue morning glory (I. indica) is a very attractive vine with pan-tropical distribution. I photographed it growing over a white mangrove near Everglades City (see photos at end of article). Note that this is not the psychedelic species. That one is called heavenlyblue, which leads to confusion. I read that the species with psychedelic seeds is really a Central American native (I. tricolor) but the name I. violacea was mistakenly used for it at first. For perhaps this reason, our native species I. violacea is also called heavenlyblue. But our I. violacea has white flowers, I read. By the way, any morning glory seeds you buy may be coated with a nasty mercury compound.
     Here’s one that’s just nice with no confusion: Florida bonamia, also called the scrub morning glory (Bonamia grandiflora). It grows along the ground over white sand. The leaves stand upright from the vine and the flowers have a fine blue tint, especially in the morning. I photographed the one below at the Kerina Parkway plant salvage area east of Orlando. You can’t go there without permission, and before long it will all be bulldozed. Florida bonamia is endemic to the central peninsula and is seriously endangered due to loss of habitat, but you can see it on our field trip to the Warea Tract this September 12. 
     The saltmarsh morning glory (I. sagittata), photographed at Merritt Island, is easily recognized by its arrowhead-shaped leaves, while railroad vine (I. pes-caprae), photographed at Frank Winzig’s place, gets its botanical name from its leaves, which are shaped like a goat’s foot. You have probably seen the scarlet creeper (I. hederifolia) around town, but did you know it is a morning glory?
     At last, I offer moonflowers (I. alba). This is the one I would most like to grow if I had a place for it. I’d like to watch for pollinators at night when the flowers have just opened. The photograph below was taken in the restoration area on the north side of Lake Apopka. The flower was already closing, but it still looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? Some on the internet say the plant is poisonous, but this looks like a mistake stemming from using the same common name for some Datura species. Of course, you should not eat Datura. Other reports, probably more reliable, say young I. alba leaves are good food. But I just like the flowers. 
Oceanblue morning glory (I. indica)
Scrub morning glory (Bonamia grandiflora)
Saltmarsh morning glory (I. sagittata)
Railroad vine (I. pes-caprae)
Scarlet creeper (I. hederifolia)
Moonflower (I. alba)
To help at one of the upcoming events, contact Jim Erwin at 407-454-3882 or email. To participate in our monthly workdays at Mead Garden, contact Catherine Bowman at 407-761-7109 or email. See the events calendar above for details of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Whether you have an hour or a day, and no matter your skills, Tarflower Chapter has a place for you!
  • Gold: $500
  • Patron $250
  • Business: $150
  • Supporting: $100
  • Not-for-profit organization: $50
  • Family or household: $50
  • Individual: $35
  • Full time student: $15
To join online or to download a membership application to print and mail, visit
For more information, visit or call 321-271-6702.
Make checks payable to:
Florida Native Plant Society, P.O. Box 278, Melbourne, FL 32902-0278
Copyright © 2015 FNPS Tarflower Chapter, All rights reserved.

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