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Newsletter - February 2013

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Native Plant Day
Dade Chapter News
Other News and Events
Bringing Sea Torchwood Back to South Florida’s Mainland and a Backyard Near You
Ionopsis utricularioides: A Pretty Little Orchid Suffering a Bit of an Identity Crisis
Contacts for DCFNPS


Feb. 9 (Sat.): Chapter workday & Volunteer Luncheon, Everglades National Park
Feb. 24 (Sun.): Field trip (Holiday Hammock)
Feb. 26 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens.  (See Native Plant Day below to help label postcards before meeting)

Mar. 23 (Sat): 18th Annual DCFNPS Native Plant Day save the date! Please sign up to volunteer now!
Mar. 26 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens, Roger Hammer, retired Miami-Dade Parks naturalist, will speak about "Endemic Plants of Florida"  Rescheduled from January.  See the January 2013 Tillandsia for more information.
March field trip: TBA

April 23: Meeting at Pinecrest Gardens, Sarah Martin, Field Biologist with the Institute for Regional Conservation, will talk about IRC restoration projects currently underway in Miami-Dade and elsewhere.

May 16-19: FNPS Annual Conference, Jacksonville


Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 7:30 pm
Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57 Ave (Red Road).

Free and open to the public.

Refreshments begin at 7:15 pm.  Merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash, checks and credit cards).  The plant raffle follows the program.  Please label your raffle donations with the plant name.

"Native Flags" - Xavier Cortada, Artist-in-Residence at FIU's College of Architecture + The Arts

Native Flags ( is a participatory eco-art project that engages others in caring for their environment.  It is being implemented here with the FIU Office of University Sustainability and other partners.  Xavier Cortada created this urban reforestation eco-art project to help restore native habitats for plants and animals in urban areas.  Participating residents plant a native tree alongside the green project flag in their front yard.  The project’s conspicuous green flags serve as a catalyst for conversations with neighbors, who will be encouraged to join the effort to rebuild their native tree canopy.  Ideally, as they watch each tree grow, their interest in the environment will also grow.   He will also discuss a project with the Pinellas County FNPS chapter to plant 750 trees (, and others -- from the North Pole to Taiwan.

Xavier Cortada grew up in Miami and holds degrees from UM's College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Business and School of Law.  An artist and painter, he is founding director and artist-in-residence of the Office of Engaged Creativity at FIU.  He has worked with groups globally to produce numerous collaborative art projects, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, and eco-art projects in Taiwan, Hawaii, Holland and Latvia.  Read more at and

March 26:  Roger Hammer, retired Miami-Dade Parks naturalist, will speak about "Endemic Plants of Florida"  Rescheduled from January.  See the January 2013 Tillandsia for more information.

April 23: Sarah Martin, Field Biologist with the Institute for Regional Conservation, will talk about IRC restoration projects currently underway in Miami-Dade and elsewhere.


If the weather is very bad, please call to confirm.  Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their guests. Collecting is not permitted. Children are welcome. For more info, call Patty Phares (305-255-6404).

Sunday, February 24, 2013.  9:30 am - 12:30 pm: Holiday Hammock Preserve, South Miami-Dade.

    This is approximately 30 acres of state land being managed by the county's Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program.  Part of the hammock is owned by chapter member John Greenleaf.  It is the southernmost hydric hammock along the historical Loveland Slough (now the C-111E canal). A portion of the site was used as a RV Campground (known as “Holiday RV Campground”) and then farmed. The chapter last visited there in 1991 as it was becoming mostly inaccessible due to exotics.   

    Since 2010, the EEL program has been restoring portions of the property dominated by Brazilian pepper.  Phase 2 of the clearing work was completed in December. The topography of the undisturbed hammock varies from rockland hammock with small to moderate sized solution holes, to intermittent sloughs and a central area of pinnacle rock. Due to the dense exotic edges around the hammock, some portions of the site are still relatively unexplored.

    Until recently, only one area with a large Thelypteris reticulata (Lattice-vein fern), a state endangered species, was known. However, during the recent clearing, another area with T. reticulata was identified (just in the nick of time!).  Butterflies abound in the older restoration area due to ruderal herbs there.

  • Directions: Address and directions are in the newsletter mailed to members.  Please join to enjoy all the activities of the chapter!
  • Wear/bring: Long pants and sleeves, closed shoes, sun protection, bug repellant, water, snacks.  A walking stick might be helpful on pinnacle rock.
  • Difficulty: Moderate, short distance but uneven footing.
  • Note: There are no restroom or picnic facilities.
  • Leaders: Molly Messer and Gwen Burzycki, both staff of the EEL Program
  • Lost? Try Patty's cell, 305-878-5705 (use that day only)

Native Plant Day

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bill Sadowski Park at Old Cutler Hammock
17555 SW 79 Avenue, Palmetto Bay, 33157
FREE and open to the public
Co-sponsored by:
The Dade Chapter FNPS and Miami-Dade County Parks

Our annual public outreach and education day will have activities for all ages: walks, programs, plants and merchandise for sale, raffles and more.  Bring your family and friends to enjoy this free day of fun and learning with us!  Explore the hammock full of ferns, forested wetland restoration and arboretum in this park as well as the exhibits at Native Plant Day.

How can you help?

  • Raffle and sale donations. We sell donated plants to raise funds for the chapter, and raffle some of the best or most rare. Start grooming your plants now!  Nature related items such as art, gift certificates, books, etc., are also nice raffle items. Contact Amy Leonard for advance drop off, and so we can plan for the raffle selection.  
  • Loan display plants or items. Butterfly larvae, host/nectar plants, other interesting plants and items.  Contact Amy Leonard.
  • Stick labels on postcards Tuesday, February 26.  RSVP to Amy Leonard.  Meet 90 minutes before our chapter meeting.
  • Suggest a speaker or offer to conduct a walk.   Contact Buck Reilly.
  • Distribute stacks of postcards. Place them at your grocery store, doctor's office, library, school, or other well-trafficked area - available at the Feb. 26 meeting.  Contact Amy Leonard.
  • Help set up on Friday March 22. We need help to set up the raffle and other stations, move tables and hang signs the afternoon before NPD. Contact Amy Leonard.
  • Help contact volunteers.  Gita Ramsay is expecting a new baby at the end of March and would appreciate your help!
  • Help at Native Plant Day!  We will need about 40 volunteers to make the event happen.  Help part of the morning or afternoon and still have plenty of time to enjoy the event.  Please contact Gita Ramsay if you, your family, or some young people you know might be able to help.

Contact Information:
Amy Leonard: 305-458-0969,
Buck Reilly: 786-291-4824,
Gita Ramsay: 786-877-7168,


Chapter Workday and Volunteer Appreciation Lunch at Everglades National Park, February 9.  Help prune and weed in our restoration project at the Coe Visitors Center, 9 am to noon.  Drinks, gloves and hand tools are provided, but you may want to bring your own and snacks to share. Bring sun protection.  The Volunteer Appreciation Lunch is 12:30 pm.  Brand new and long-time volunteers for the project are invited and encouraged to attend! Please RSVP by Thursday Feb. 7 for the luncheon to Patty (, 305-255-6404) even if you're just a "maybe"

Welcome new members!  Ashley Hagan, Bryan Harrison.  Thank you to all who renewed for your support of FNPS.

Many thanks to Steve Woodmansee who filled in with the January program due to a last-minute problem.  Steve presented "That’s a Butterfly Garden?  Surprising Places for Finding Uncommon Butterflies."  Steve is president of FNPS, an educator, environmental consultant and always an incredibly informative speaker.  More good news: Roger Hammer's program has been rescheduled for March.


FNPS Annual Conference, May 16-19, 2013: "Celebrating La Florida" in Jacksonville. Enjoy field trips, programs, socials, plant and merchandise sales, landscaping workshop.

  • Research track papers and poster presentations are invited.
  • Applications for Research Grants, Conservation Grants and Landscape Awards to be announced at the conference are due March 1, 2013.   (

Sabal Minor, the Bi-monthly newsletter of the FNPS.  If you didn’t see it online or in print, you can always find past issues at Read about FNPS business, unfolding details of the conference and other events, and news from chapters around the state.

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meetings at 7pm, Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 W State Road 84.  See the new website for the newsletter and field trips.

  • Feb. 13: Steve Woodmansee, Pro Native Consulting and President of the Florida Native Plant Society, "Creating an Ecologically and Sociologically Sustainable Landscape"

Naples Chapter FNPS Fourth Annual Banquet, Friday, February 22, 2013.  Wine and cheese reception at 5:30, with silent auction of native plants and landscape services; dinner  at 7 p.m. and presentation by world-renowned plant taxonomist Dr. John Kartesz on “The Internet-based Synthesis of the Vascular Flora of North America”.  Naples Botanical Garden.  Full evening $35, lecture only $20.  Contact Jean Roche at 239-597-7222. 

Databases from the Biota of North America Program (BONAP) founded in 1969 by Dr. Kartesz represent the only current assessments of all known vascular plants recorded for the North American continent north of Mexico.  Read more about this interesting program at


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. See or contact Steve at  Bring at least three plants (especially flowering/fruiting), even if they do not pertain to the topic.  Beginners and old hands are all encouraged to come.  Join on the website (free!) to receive an email reminder and to post plant photos for identification or discussion.

  • Feb. 19 topic:  Solanaceae (Deadly Nightshade Family).  This large plant family also houses peppers, eggplant and tomatoes!

Dune restoration workday. February 16, 2013, 9am-12:30pm. Hand remove the non-native invasive Scaevola taccada (beach naupaka) from the dunes at North Shore Open Space Park in North Beach, Miami Beach. This project, ongoing since 2006, is close to success but still needs your help.  Meet at 85th Street and the Beach. Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, closed shoes.  Hydrate BEFORE starting.  Water, snacks, shovels, gloves supplied.  Please RSVP to Sam Wright at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 305-342 2499,

The Native Plant Show.  April 4-5, 2013 in Kissimmee, Florida.  Hosted by the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN).  Florida’s first all-native plant tradeshow.  See Florida’s finest growers of native plants along with a few select green allies serving the horticulture and landscape industry.  This show is all about Florida native plants and how to use them for beautiful, sustainable, authentic Real Florida Landscapes (TM) that are naturally Florida-friendly.  FANN will offer professional CEU courses for landscape architects, designers, installers, maintenance professionals and arborists.  There will be demonstration landscapes from award-winning native landscape designs. See

The CLEO Institute (Creative Learning and Engagement Opportunities) forges partnerships to advance environmental literacy and civic engagement by developing transformative initiatives that can be scaled and replicated.

  • Feb. 21: CLEO Science Café at Pinecrest Gardens. See for more info.
  • Feb. 23: Youth Task Force meeting for high school and college age students interested in the environment, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 3251 South Miami Ave, Miami, 10 am to noon.  

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

22nd Annual Lecture Series: "The Delicate Balance of Nature".  Wednesdays, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, MM 102.5 Oceanside Overseas Highway.  Gate opens at 7 p.m.  Free but seating is limited. More details: or call 305-451-9570.

  • Feb. 6: State Parks of the Florida Keys - Janice Duquesnel 
  • Feb. 13: Native Am. Medicinal Plants - Michele Williams
  • Feb. 20: Endocrine Disruptors in FL Keys Waters-Martin Moe
  • Feb. 27: Unlocking the Secrets of the Mangrove Cuckoo - Rachel Frieze
  • Mar. 6: Seagrass Meadows: A Foundation for Marine Ecosystems and the Florida Keys Economy - James Fourqurean

Environmentally Endangered Lands Program.  Help our natural areas and learn about preserves all over Miami.  Please register at or call 305-257-0933 x227.  Workday calendar

  • Feb. 9: Crandon Preserve (coin vine removal)
  • Feb. 23: County Line Scrub (trail maintenance)

Friends of the Gifford Arboretum meeting, February 7: "Microbes That Protect Plants and Animals from Microbial Pathogens and Restore Environmental Balance.”  Dr. Philippe A. Drouillet, Assistant Professor at the UM’s Rosenstiel School, explains roles microbes play in the environment and how they can be managed for plant and animal health.  Social at 7 pm, program at 7:30. Cox Science Bldg., Room 166. Univ. of Miami.  For info on meetings and Music in the Arboretum: or 305-284-1302.  For directions click 'Visits'.


Ad for Pro Native Plant Sale


By Jaeson Clayborn

Photo: Leaves with evidence of herbivory by Schaus' caterpillars
Leaves with evidence of herbivory
by Schaus' caterpillars
Photo: Torchwood leaves and trunk
Torchwood leaves and trunk

Sea Torchwood (Amyris elemifera) is unique in South Florida because it is the preferred hostplant for the endangered Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly (Heraclides aristodemus poncenus). Wild Lime (Zanthoxylum fagara) is another hostplant for the Schaus’ swallowtail and Giant swallowtail.  Sea Torchwood lacks spines, unlike Wild Lime.  Sea Torchwood is rare at plant nurseries and sparse in hardwood hammocks.  It naturally occurs in light gaps and along margins of subtropical and tropical hardwood hammocks as it moderately tolerates shade.

Sea Torchwood is in the Rutaceae (citrus family), a popular plant family if you like oranges and orange juice, guacamole (need limes for that), key lime pie, and grapefruits. There is another native tree closely related to Sea Torchwood called Balsam Torchwood (Amyris balsamifera); however, it is less common than Sea Torchwood.  One can smell the similarity between Sea Torchwood and other plant members in the citrus family when crushing their leaves.  One might ask, “What about the fruit, are they edible and big like oranges?”  The answer is yes and no.  Sea Torchwood fruits are small and turn blackish-purple when ripe, yet bear little flesh compared to an orange.  What else can Sea Torchwood do for you besides attract large butterflies and other pollinators?  Well, it has medicinal uses that can alleviate symptoms from an illness. The compounds in the leaf oils have the ability to reduce fever, treat wounds and flu symptoms.

Jae defies mosquitoes to plant torchwoods with the NPS
Jae defies mosquitoes to plant
torchwoods with the NPS

So where am I going with this?  The Schaus’ swallowtail has been extirpated from the mainland of South Florida, currently inhabiting the Keys; however, this butterfly has the ability to disperse over long distances.  There are plans this year to help the species recover through captive-breeding, which will help increase the population thus preventing extinction.  Since Sea Torchwood is relatively rare, if not absent, in people’s backyards, increasing their numbers throughout parks and neighborhoods in the historic mainland range of the Schaus’ swallowtail can provide refuge for migrants should they happen to disperse from the Keys.   Supplementary watering and fertilizers are not necessary once the tree is established in one’s yard.  The maximum height for Sea Torchwood is 10-13 meters.  Finally, Monarchs receive lots of attention as many gardeners plant milkweed (Monarch hostplants) in their yards or pots, the same concept can be applied to the Schaus’ and Giant swallowtail butterfly, which can also enhance the aesthetics of one’s yard.

Photos: Torchwood leaves and trunk; leaves with evidence of herbivory by Schaus' caterpillars; Jae defies mosquitoes to plant torchwoods with the National Park Service.

Jaeson Clayborn is a graduate student at Florida International University and is a member of FNPS


Photo: Amyris elemifera seeds
Torochwood seeds

The National Park Service still needs torchwood (Amyris elemifera) seeds for a project to restore a larval food of the Schaus swallowtail butterfly.  Seeds will be propagated in a nursery and the seedlings planted in natural areas.  Fruit are ready to harvest when they are about 0.5-1cm long and purple/black.  Fruit may be available year round, reportedly becoming abundant on the mainland in December and more plentiful when the rains arrive.  Harvest up to half the available mature fruit at a time, leaving some for the fauna in your yard.  But the fauna may not share with you, and all the fruits will disappear.  Or they may be out of reach.  Nevertheless, any small number of seeds can help this project.  Place any fruits you can harvest in a paper bag and contact Helena Giannini at 786-249-3013,  

A Pretty Little Orchid Suffering a Bit of an Identity Crisis

by Chuck McCartney

Ionopsis utricularioides is a pretty little tropical orchid of South Florida that has a bit of an identity crisis: It doesn’t have a name to call its own.  Instead, it gets both its botanical names from its resemblance to other flowers.

Photo: Ionopsis utricularioides
Photo by Keith Bradley

The genus name, Ionopsis, was created by German botanist C.S. Kunth in 1815 because he thought the flowers resembled some species of true violet in the genus Viola. The –opsis ending, from the Greek, indicates having the appearance of something, in this case the appearance of violets. (Remember that so-called African Violets in the gesneriad genus Saintpaulia are unrelated to true violets.)

The species epithet, the formidable-looking utricularioides, was created earlier, in 1788, when Swedish botanist Olof Swartz called the species Epidendrum utricularioides because he felt the flowers resembled some type of carnivorous bladderwort in the genus Utricularia. And there are, indeed, species of Utricularia with flowers that resemble the orchid’s, as an image search on the Internet will reveal. The –oides suffix is from the Greek and means “resembling.”

Regarding Swartz’s placement of this orchid in the genus Epidendrum, it should be remembered that in those early days of modern plant taxonomy, Epidendrum was a catch-all grouping into which almost all tropical epiphytic (tree-growing) orchids were placed. The name Epidendrum is from the Greek words meaning “upon a tree.” Today, we know that many of those early “epidendrums” were completely unrelated genetically to the orchid genus we now call Epidendrum.  Ionopsis, in fact, is related to the popular New World “Dancing Lady” orchids in the genus Oncidium.

Adding to this orchid’s identity crisis, robust forms of Ionopsis utricularioides from Brazil are often sold and cultivated under the name Ionopsis paniculata. And if that weren’t bad enough, the orchid doesn’t have a very good “common name” to call its own. Here in Florida, we sometimes hear it referred to as the Delicate Ionopsis or the Delicate Violet Orchid. Because it’s our only member of the genus, it’s often just called Ionopsis – which actually seems easier to say than either of those made-up “common names” for a relatively uncommon orchid.

Although some experts disagree, today the authoritative online World Checklist of Selected Plant Families maintained by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England, lists six species for the genus Ionopsis. Only the two most widely distributed species are generally known to orchid growers: Ionopsis satyrioides and Ionopsis utricularioides. The other four species listed by the Kew website have a much narrower range: burchellii (Brazil and possibly Paraguay); minutiflora (Ecuador); papillosa (Ecuador); and zebrina (Colombia).

Photo: Ionopsis utricularioides close-up
Photo by Roger Hammer

The most widespread species – and the one best known to orchid growers – is Ionopsis utricularioides, which occurs not only in southern Florida but throughout the islands of the West Indies and from Mexico southward through Central America into most of tropical South America as far south as Paraguay. It is also one of the 11 orchid species listed by the World Checklist as being found in the isolated Galapagos Islands. Across this large area of the New World, it can occur from sea level to an altitude of approximately 3,450 feet.

In subtropical Florida, at the northern extreme of the species’ range, Ionopsis utricularioides grows primarily in the hot, humid lowland environment of the Big Cypress Swamp and the adjacent Fakahatchee Strand in the southwest portion of the state, where the water of the swamps mitigates the lower temperatures of occasional winter cold snaps. There, it can be found growing along small branches of such native trees as Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens) and Pop-Ash (Fraxinus carolinianus). Instead of adhering tightly to the tree, it often hangs off the branches, suspended by a few twisting, wiry white roots.

The plant has a tiny pseudobulb that is almost hidden within the folds of the thick, prominently parallel-veined leaves. This species sometimes grows in areas of very bright light, and when it does, the leaves take on a reddish-purple hue, the pigments most likely providing protection from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun.

In winter and early spring, a wiry inflorescence emerges from the bottom of the little pseudobulb, and as this flower stalk matures, it very often branches. Flowering time in southern Florida is usually from late winter into spring.

Typical of many so-called twig epiphytes, plants of Ionopsis utricularioides may be short-lived in nature. An orchid dwelling in such an ephemeral habitat as a twig has little incentive to select for a genetic trait like longevity, and the plants seem to flower when quite young.

One of the strangest places I have ever seen Ionopsis utricularioides growing in Florida was in the middle of a shallow pond deep within the Fakahatchee. This was on May 23, 1999, the height of our spring dry season, and the surface water of the pond had mostly evaporated, making the exposed muck of its bottom capable of supporting my weight without me bogging down too badly if I was careful where I walked. In this pond was the drying, slightly woody stalk of a species of Sesbania, a tall but rather weedy member of the pea family. Growing on this unlikely support, there in the full sun, was a tiny Ionopsis plant displaying only one or two flowers. In such a place, with such a short-lived host plant, it seemed like Ionopsis utricularioides was a species destined to bloom young – and die young.

Chuck McCartney is a former editor of the American Orchid Society's AOS Bulletin and the Awards Quarterly, and a member of FNPS.

Specify your Tillandsia and/or Sabal Minor delivery preference by contacting FNPS at or 321-271- 6702.
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Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:

President: Buck Reilly,, 786-291-4824
Vice-President: Amy Leonard,, 305-458-0969
Secretary:  Gita Ramsay (, 786-877-7168)
Treasurer: Susan Walcutt, (
At Large: Amida Frey,  Lauren McFarland, Eric von Wettberg, Vivian Waddell, Kurt Birchenough, Surey Rios
FNPS board: Lauren McFarland

Past President: Ted Shaffer

Mailing address:

Dade Chapter FL Native Plant Society
6619 South Dixie Highway, #181
Miami FL 33143-7919

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator: Cheryl & Ben Morgan (

Membership: Patty Phares, (, 305-255-6404)       

DCFNPS Facebook:

DCFNPS Website:

DCFNPS email:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia interim editor: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

Assistant editors: Lauren McFarland

Articles, announcements and news items are invited for Tillandsia from Dade and Keys members.  Please submit items for consideration by the 15th of each month. Advertising rates from $12 per month.

State Organization

FNPS Chapter representative: Lauren McFarland

FNPS Web Page:

FNPS Blog:

FNPS Facebook:

FNPS Twitter:

FNPS Eco Action Alert List: Send email request to

FNPS (state) office: 321-271-6702,