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• MARCH 2020 •


Happy spring everybody! This is such a beautiful time in Florida to enjoy the many spring/earth day activities in the area. We will be very busy this month but hope to see you at our big Leu Gardens plant sale on March 14-15 either as a volunteer or as a patron. This will be a great time to stock up on some of your favorite natives and get your garden planted for the wet season. We hope to see you at our chapter meeting on March 3rd where we will get to hear about the Microscopic Anthology of Florida Native Plants with Dick Diener.

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Monthly meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at Harry P. Leu Gardens – 1920 N. Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803.


Small and Beautiful: The Microscopic Anthology of Florida Native Plants

MAR. 3 • 7 P.M.
Armed with technical photographic equipment and a dissecting microscope with a camera built in, Dick Diener, will present native plant blooms rarely seen with the naked eye. A rare and fascinating look at the tiniest Florida Native Plant blooms showing the beauty in structure and variety of our Central Florida native plants.

Dick Diener is a self-taught, life-long botanist. He spent his childhood in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and started botanizing at the age 16 in 1944. He continued his passion for botany In Mississippi at Biloxi while in the Air Force, at Louisiana State University, other locations in Louisiana, and later in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Dick married in 1956, had 8 children and a wonderful life. Dick spent 27 years in New Jersey, and moved to Florida in 1999. He was a volunteer at the Disney Wilderness Preserve for (10) years, and is currently volunteering at the Bok Tower Rare Plant project with Cheryl Peterson. He has enjoyed bird watching and botanizing throughout all these years to the present day.

Field Trip to Tosohatchee

MAR. 28 • 8:50 A.M.

Come out to Toso at 8:50 a.m. Saturday morning on the 28. There will be several recently burned areas, burned on different dates this year. We can compare regrowth in different number of weeks, and of course find rare plants that come up after fire. And then picnic at Lake Charlie. There will be more to enjoy after lunch for those who have the time.

Bring  camera, water, snack, and the $3 per car entrance fee. You may want to stop first to the Burger King at Colonial Drive and the Alafaya Trail for coffee or carpooling. Allow 25 minutes to get to Tosohatchee from the BK. Take Colonial east to Christmas, FL, then take Taylor Creek Rd. south for about 3 miles to the Wildlife Management Area entrance. Have $3 cash for the entrance fee.

Memorial for Don Lantz

(passed away on February 12, 2020)
By Jackie Rolly

Our hearts are heavy as we report that Don Lantz, one of our founding members, passed away on February 12, 2020. We have lost a member of our family. Our sadness is tempered with deep gratitude to Don for his dedication to preserving natural Florida. Don is survived by his wife Peggy and four children. Don and Peggy have been active members of the Society and lifelong members of our Tarflower Chapter.

Don was the Society’s first administrator - he managed the membership records and was our "office." He was also the society's historian while Peggy was our first Palmetto magazine editor. He and Peggy also managed our annual conference – a herculean job!  Don eventually turned over the job to Barbara Soumar, in late 1990s. He is a recipient of the FNPS Silver Palmetto award in 1989.

At the Society’s 10-year anniversary, Don wrote an article for our Palmetto magazine that documented the history and progress of our organization in its first decade: The Founding of FNPS
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Florida Native Plant Society’s Endowment fund. The earning from the endowment fund research on Florida’s native plants and plant communities.

You can donate in memory of Don Lantz here or by going directly the FNPS website and choosing Endowment Fund Donation and then below that click on “in memory of”. In the menu that will drop down, enter “Don Lantz.”

Photo Credit: Jackie Rolly

Candidate Nominations

The Nominating Committee of the Tarflower Chapter is looking for candidates to fill the Tarflower Board positions listed below. Request members review the duties of the various Officers and provide recommended names and contacts to fill these positions. The Nominating Committee will contact the candidates to ensure their availability to fill the position. Please provide your recommendations to Jackie Rolly, or see us at the March meeting. Voting on the slate of nominees will be at the May Annual Meeting. Although some of the people currently serving on the Board may opt to continue serving, we wish to provide this opportunity for others to serve.
Officers may be elected for a period of one (1) year. Only members in good standing may be officers of this corporation. Officers shall automatically be members of the Executive Committee. Officers shall serve without compensation except reimbursement for actual expenses incurred or to be incurred.
  1. Preside at all general membership meetings.
  2. Appoint committees for special tasks as required.
  3. Be an ex-officio member of all committees except the nomination committee.
  4. Sign all documents, contracts, etc.
  5. Conduct monthly Board Meetings.
  6. Attend annual State Conference, or if unable, appoint a representative from the Executive Committee.
1st Vice-President (Programs)
  1. Exercise the functions of the President during the absence or disability of the President.
  2. Chair the Program Committee.
  3. Act as an aide to the President
  4. Coordinate monthly Programs and speakers
2nd Vice-President (Events)
  1. Exercise the functions of the President during the absence or disability of the President and 1st Vice-President.
  2. Chair the Events Committee.
  3. Act as an aide to the President.
  4. Coordinate and work Tarflower events such as plant sales.
  1. Record, maintain and report minutes of the Executive Committee, Board and General meetings to the Executive Committee on a monthly basis.
  2. Provide a summary of all of the meetings monthly to the editor of The Tarpaper.
  3. Be custodian of all corporate records except financial. The Treasurer’s report is to be included in the minutes.
  4. Prepare correspondence.
  1. Keep, maintain, and report correct accounts of financial transactions monthly with copies to the secretary for inclusion in the minutes.
  2. Chair the Budget Committee.
  3. Be the custodian of all monies of the corporation.
  4. Sign all checks as directed by the Executive Committee with bills initialed by the President.
Note: The immediate past President shall be the FNPS State Chapter Director and as such shall also be an automatic member of the Executive Committee of this corporation. State Chapter Director attends quarterly State Board meetings representing and voting for Tarflower Chapter’s interest and reports back to the Tarflower Chapter on State Board findings.
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)


By Jim Erwin

Well look at this. The doe and her spotted fawn are strolling along with me in plain sight maybe forty feet away. I am at Split Oak. I have gone around the dredged pond and crossed the wide white sand spoil area on which, for several years very little grew, but where, in the last three years, silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia) has roared across this dune landscape. The desert has bloomed. Pines around the edges have finally struck water and are growing quickly. I come here every time because it is changed every time. I have crossed to the far edge and am walking along a ridge. To my right, FWC has recently roller chopped an avenue thirty feet below and paralleling the ridge. On the far side an impassible swamp hems in the avenue. The deer parallel me, picking their dainty way down the avenue of roller-chopped debris. I’m getting away with this because deer don’t look for trouble from above and I am higher than a hunter’s tree stand. There are few twigs to snap in the sand; the breeze must be right. But three steps more and I am made. Bang. They are off like a shot.

With no place to go left or right, side by side they bound over the debris straight up the avenue, cover a 100 yards, split, doe disappearing right, down a grass road, fawn disappearing left into the only cover the avenue offers, a small beat up palmetto wedged between two pines where the roller chopper couldn’t finish off.

Their run happens and ends in silence faster than I can form a thought. I stare dumbly at the hiding place before coming to my senses and wondering if I am seeing a Bambi story. That grass road is my destination, so I continue down the ridge never taking my eyes of the hiding place. Just past the hiding place I slide down the ridge aiming to cross the roller chop to the grass road. I must walk within 15 feet of the hiding place. The fawn is in there but no bit of it is in sight. I resist the urge to get closer for a peek.

What will I see when I look down the grass road? I see the doe. There she is 100 yards on standing in the middle of the road looking over her shoulder at me. She will run. No. She watches me. Only when I begin to walk towards her does she take off down the road another 100 yards to the hard left turn, where she stops long enough to see I’m still walking her way, then disappears around the turn. This is a Bambi story. Is it? I have never seen anything like this. When I reach the turn will she be stopped, halfway down that leg, looking over her shoulder? Yes! I make the turn. She runs another 150 yards to the end of that leg and turns left, taking the cross road that follows the canal, and, will begin the wide arc back towards the hiding place. Five minutes later I reach the canal road where, to the left she stands looking back at me. I go right, two steps, look back and she is gone. Wouldn’t I like to see the reunion. That’s not possible, of course. I go on down the canal wondering where have all the lupine (Lupinus diffusus) plants gone. This road was a lupine garden two years ago. Perennials? Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don’t, someone told me. Later on I come across this explanation.

                                                .           .           .           .           .

Working together through the holidays and January, Orange County Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero and the coalition defending Split Oak Forest assembled convincing reasons why the Orange County Board of Commissioners should rescind their December vote voiding the protections for Split Oak Forest. Gomez Cordero having placed Split Oak on the Commission’s February 11 agenda, for twenty minutes presented the case, following two hours of two-minute statements from individuals. Again the Commission voted 5 to 2 to void the Split Oak protections. You can find video of the arguments here. The Mormon Ranch, the Tavistock Corporation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority deploy massive political firepower against the Split Oak protections. The Split Oak coalition is smart and resourceful in their defense of those protections. Former Orange County Commissioner Pete Clark, running again for the Commission, predicts the next stage of the fight will be in court. With the Florida M-CORES project already eying more conservation land as free right-of-way, the state-wide significance of the Split Oak contest becomes perhaps more important than Split Oak itself. The outcome, either way, can set a historic precedent.

Photo credit: Mary Keim
Shortleaf Rosegentian (Sabatia brevifolia)
Coastal Rosegentian (Sabatia calycina)

What is iNaturalist, Who Uses It and Who Contributes to It?   

By Mary Keim

iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Participants record observations of plants, animals, and other living things. iNaturalist hopes to increase awareness of biodiversity and promote exploration in nature. As of this writing, in Florida, 37,700 observers have made 781,550 observations of 13,380 species identified by 13,043 people (reference link). With the scope narrowed to Florida’s flowering plants, as of this writing there are 19,603 observers have made 236,795 observations of 4375 species identified by 4825 people (reference link).

iNaturalist is used by university botany professors to do research, by elementary school classes to do nature education and by native plant society members to figure out what plant they photographed on their last outing. By using iNaturalist’s “Explore” feature, you can learn, for example, that six Rosegentians (Sabatia spp.) have been documented from Orange County (reference link). By looking at the “Community” feature’s “Projects” you can search for topics or places of interest and find “Projects” such as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Wildflowers of Florida” (reference link) and “Florida WMA: Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area” (reference link). If you don’t find a project for the taxonomic group or place of interest, you can start your own. Instructions are at

You can help make iNaturalist an even better resource by contributing your observations. A cell phone camera (and iNaturalist app) or any other camera is fine.  Instructions for getting started are at In addition, most of us have some knowledge of plants and/or animals and we can help identify organisms on iNaturalist. For example, I don’t know many grass species, but I know a grass from an aster. So I am able to improve the ID of an unlabeled grass from “Unknown” to “Grass Family (Poaceae).” Then grass experts, who subscribe to grass observations will be alerted and can identify the grass more specifically. Similarly, you could improve a flower ID by changing it from “Unknown” to “Flowering Plant” or to whatever more specific taxon you know. So far, 861 people have helped identify my iNaturalist observations. Part of my motivation to do ID work is that I appreciate the help of those who have IDed my observations.

An organized way to contribute to iNaturalist is by participating in a bioblitz. Bioblitzes are events at a particular place and time, for example at Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area, managed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or at Econ River Wilderness Area managed by Seminole County Natural Lands. Bioblitzes, and iNaturalist in general, can connect people with nature and generate useful data. Your observations can contribute to biodiversity science and can contribute to your knowledge of the environment. iNaturalist can also introduce you to fellow naturalists. I have met at least nine Florida naturalists after seeing their work on iNaturalist. It has been very encouraging to see these (mostly) young people out in nature. Try iNaturalist and get in on the fun of discovery!

Photo credit: Mary Keim

Congratulations On Your New Baby!

By Catherine Bowman

Yes, it is a new baby longleaf pine in a great protected, sunny location in the gopher tortoise habitat at the south end of the site!

Longleaf pine seeds need to drift down and land on bare mineral soil in order to germinate, assuming they are not eaten when they fall. There was one seedling longleaf a few years ago; then, unfortunately a nearby oak grew quickly and made too much shade.

The Mead Garden longleaf pines are in an area with MANY squirrels who manage to eat the majority of the seeds from the cones before they can fall to the ground.

This little one is off to a good start because of Tarflower’s 6 plus year’s hard work to restore some of the sandhill habitat (did you know that some longleaf can live 400 to 500 years). Before January 2014, when the first plantings began around the two south most tortoise burrows, all of the ground cover in the garden was regularly mowed and there were no open sandy patches. Now, in the restored areas, plants are beginning to naturally reproduce. During the next few weeks our volunteers will be cleaning up the spent stalks from last blooming season and removing weeds to keep the ground open and allow space and sun to promote the growth of the wiregrass (Aristida stricta), which typifies the sandhill ground cover. Of course, in a natural sandhill, periodic quick ground fires would remove the dead biomass; at least for now, we must fill that role.

Please email if you have a few hours and are interested in learning about the fascinating and rapidly disappearing longleaf pine type of vegetative community and using your talents to showcase the Mead Botanical Garden Sandhill. 

Longleaf Life Stages

Images and Text from

The Seed & Seedling Stage
After falling from the tree in October to late November, winged seeds whirl to the forest floor and await adequate moisture before germination. In heavy mast years, a rain shortly after seed fall will yield a green blanket of germinants on the forest floor. Seeds either germinate within a few weeks after falling or they die. Although seeds will germinate almost anywhere (on rocks, logs, forest mulch), they generally need to land on mineral soil to survive subsequent drought periods. During this first stage, the seedlings are very susceptible to fire, drought and predation and will take upwards to a year to reach the next life stage.

The Grass Stage
This stage is an inconspicuous yet unique stage of a longleaf pine's life history where the seedling resembles a clump of grass more than a tree, hence the name. During the grass stage, the growing tip (bud) of the tree is protected under a thick arrangement of needles at ground level. When fires sweep through, the needles may burn but the tip of the bud remains protected. New needles quickly replace those that were burned off. During the grass stage, longleaf pine seedlings are virtually immune to fire. At this stage, although the tree will not be growing upwards, the seedling will be putting down an impressive root system underground. Also during this stage, longleaf may become infected with a fungus called brown spot needle blight. Brown spot causes the needles to brown, fall off, and hamper growth. Repeated defoliation will cause the seedling to die. The grass stage may last anywhere from one to seven years depending on the degree of competition with other plants for resources. Rare instances of 20 years have been documented.

The Bottlebrush Stage
When the diameter of the root collar (that area right at ground level) reaches 1-inch, the longleaf grass stage will begin to initiate height growth. Beginning in about late February to mid-March, a single, white growing tip will emerge upwards from the protective sheath of needles. This white tip, called a candle, may grow a few feet in just a few months. By about late May, green needles begin to emerge from the candle and the candle begins to turn scaly and brown as bark begins to form. At this point, the longleaf is growing proportionally more in height then it is in diameter. There are no branches spreading out horizontally during this time causing the tree to look like a three to four-foot bottlebrush. By growing rapidly in a short period of time, the seedling is able to secure an advantageous position to gather sunlight and to get its growing tip above the frequent fires. However, during this stage of growth, longleaf pine trees are slightly more vulnerable to fire.  It may take a year or so before the bark thickens enough to withstand most fires. The longleaf may remain in this stage for a couple of years.

The Sapling Stage
When the longleaf reaches about 6 to 10 feet in height, lateral branches begin to emerge and signal the beginning of the sapling stage. Diameter increases and bark thickens modestly, but the tree continues to grow in height at upwards of 3 feet per year. Around late February to mid-March white growing tips can be seen extending upwards from the tufted needles at the end of the branches. As the tree grows taller and the bark becomes thicker, the longleaf becomes less susceptible to fire.  After the tree reaches 8 feet in height and about 2 inches in diameter at ground level, it becomes very robust and is rarely killed by fire. The tree will remain in this stage for several years.

The Mature Stage
Somewhere around 30 years after height growth initiation, trees begin to produce cones with fertile seeds. As the forest begins to mature, lower limbs may be shed or pruned off by fire. The trunk of the tree begins to fill out into a straight, relatively branch free tree that resembles a living telephone pole (in fact, many longleaf pines are sold for telephone poles). On more fertile soils, the tree may continue to grow in height up to 110 feet. On poorer soils, the tree may only grow to 60 feet. After about 70 -100 years longleaf essentially ceases height growth. During the later stages of this period, trees may begin to show signs of decay and rot. In particular, longleaf pine reaching 80 years in age may become infected with a fungus called red heart that causes the otherwise dense heart of the tree to become punky, soft, sappy and full of small channels.

During this period most trees have reached a steady state. Large diameter trees with flat-topped crowns dominate the forest. Historical accounts describe longleaf pines in excess of 120 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. Conventional wisdom suggests that old-growth longleaf pine trees stop growing in size at these advanced ages. However, many instances exist where old-growth longleaf pine trees have actually increased growth rates at 200 years (+) when resources became available. At older ages, more and more trees begin to show signs of internal rot from red-heart fungus. In some localities, as many as half the trees per acre can be affected with red-heart in the crowns.

In a landscape that sees lightning, tornadoes, wildfires, drought, hurricanes, or even ice storms on a regular occurrence, it is really quite remarkable for a longleaf pine to die from old age. After 300 years, trees that survive everything that Mother Nature has to throw at them will eventually weaken and begin to lose the ability to fend off forest pests like black turpentine or southern pine beetles. Slowly the trees begin to die off. The initial signs of this weakening include a thinning of green needles in the tree crown, followed by signs of beetle activity on the bark, then wilting of needles and finally by complete defoliation.

After Death
Usually when we think of the contribution of an organism (like a longleaf pine) to an ecosystem, we focus merely on the living organism. However, a longleaf pine is perhaps just as significant to the ecosystem after the tree is dead as when it is alive. Once the tree dies, its bark quickly sloughs off or is torn off by foraging woodpeckers. What remains is the white skeleton of the tree; known as a snag. Snags that don't fall will typically remain for only a few years. Without the protective bark in place, the resinous inner wood of the longleaf is exposed and often causes the snag to ignite during a forest fire and burn to the ground.

Conservation Grants

FNPS Conservation Grants support applied native-plant conservation projects in Florida. Applicants can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 awarded for a 1-year period. Projects must promote the preservation, conservation, or restoration of rare or imperiled native plant taxa and rare or imperiled native plant communities. To qualify for a Conservation Grant, the proposed project must be sponsored by an FNPS Chapter.

Contact: Juliet Rynear
Contact Email:
Application Deadline: March 6, 2020
Detailed application information

Landscape Awards

Each year at the Annual Conference, FNPS gives awards for high quality native plant landscapes in the categories of residential, commercial, institutional, transportation, restoration, mitigation and wildflower/butterfly garden - landscaped primarily with native plants. 

Award Levels: Excellence (1st) Honor (2nd) Merit (3rd)

Contact Email:
Application Deadline: March 6, 2020
Detailed application information

Research Grants

The Florida Native Plant Society maintains and Endowment Grant program for the purpose of funding research on native plants.  These are small grants (typically $1500 or less), awarded for a 1-year period, and intended to support research that forwards the mission of the Florida Native Plant Society "to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida."

The FNPS Endowment Fund is created and maintained through the donations of members. Please consider sharing to support native plant research.
Donate to the Endowment Fund

Contact: Paul Schmalzer
Contact Email:
Application Deadline: March 6, 2020
Detailed application information

Dan Austin Award for Ethnobotany

This award is limited to graduate or undergraduate students who are studying Florida ethnobotany – i.e., the study of the relationship between peoples or cultures with plants native to Florida or Florida ecosystems. These can be current uses or historic uses.

Award Evaluation Criteria

  • Research must focus on Florida native plant species or plant communities.
  • Research project must have a human/plant connection.
  • Research can include mycology, taxonomy, botany, demographics of medicinal plants, medicinal chemistry, human effects on soils, economic importance, etc.  

Contact: Juliet Rynear
Contact Email:
Application Deadline: March 6, 2020
Detailed application information

President  Jennifer Ferngren
Vice-President (Programs)  Mandy Morgan
Vice-President (Events)  Mike Duffy
Treasurer  Kyle Sheppard
Secretary  Anna Pepper

Chapter Representative  Julie Becker
Editors, The Tarpaper   Jillian Baco & Jim Erwin
To contribute to The Tarpaper, contact
For general questions about the Tarflower Chapter, contact
See the events calendar for details of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Whether you have an hour or a day, and no matter your skills, the Tarflower Chapter has a place for you.
Become a Member and Receive:
  • The Tarpaper - monthly newsletter
  • The Palmetto - quarterly magazine, filled with educational information on native plants, gardening, conservation of native habitats
  • Sabal Minor - bi-monthly newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on FNPS news and activities
  • Annual Conference discount (every May)
  • Native plant gardening and landscaping tips from chapter volunteers
For more information visit
The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of native plants and native plant communities of Florida.
Copyright ©2020 FNPS Tarflower Chapter. All rights reserved.

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