December eNews for Broward Native Plants
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Florida Native Plant Society

Promoting the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Broward County
Membership $35


Broward Chapter (Coontie) & Event Calendar
Chapter Email
Plant List (Inst. for Regional Conservation)
Above: Helene Klein Pineland Preserve (photo: Sandra Friend and John Keatley of Florida Hikes). The Preserve is at Hillsboro Blvd. and Lyons Road in Coconut Creek.
Plant and Animal Interactions in Milkweeds with Dr. Koptur
Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 Florida (W. State Rd.) 84, Dania Beach, FL 33312

"Pollination Mechanisms and Plant/Animal Interactions in the Milkweed Family (Apocynaceae)," was the title of Dr. Suzanne Koptur's topic at the Gifford Arboretum series this spring. She is bringing it to us at the Secret Woods Wednesday evening. The topic will cover many different species, and her own research on native species here in Florida and the Bahamas.

Dr. Koptur has been a professor at FIU for nearly 30 years, teaching courses in Ecology, Botany, and other things. She has also been a member of the Dade Chapter for that long, and says she owes her knowledge of native plants to the field trips she took with them when she first came to Miami! 

We look forward to this fascinating topic that will be of interest to insect, butterfly, and wildlife folks as well as those with an ongoing interest in our local native plants.

Photo by Mary Keim
Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor on Butterflyweed,  Asclepias tuberosa

Your Neighborhood's Botanical Legacy

This One Place on Earth

Upon the very place you live is a thousands-year-old legacy of plants and wildlife destroyed about 60 to 100 years ago when the land was first drained and cleared to build our neighborhoods. Surprisingly, a few plants may have survived that catastrophic change and can be found in neglected and forgotten places nearby. Of course, most plants were buried beneath the fill, buildings, roads, and exotic landscaping that followed. We can, perhaps, help you reimagine nature there, so that you can recognize the still extent plants from this one place on earth. The totality of plants and wildlife from a particular place is unique, a bit different from anywhere else on earth, a signature on the land worth knowing. Broward has about a dozen species endemic to Florida and others that were extirpated with development.

Broward originally had about 13 general plant communities, broad descriptions of habitat. That's more than many counties because of the convergence of interior wetlands, coastal ridge, and beach, and transitional plant zones between Dade and Palm Beach. What is most obvious is that 10 of the 13 communities are in the most urban eastern third of the county. Click on the image above to toggle the historic plant communities map with current satellite photos, (adapted for the website from FANN & the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones map). Note: Beach Dunes & Maritime Forests (Community 1), Pine Rocklands & Rockland Hammocks (Community 3), and Hydric Hammocks & Wetland Swamp Forests (Community 8) are combined on this map, although separated in other plant community descriptions.

To help you locate your place on the plant communities map, first map your location in satellite view and pinpoint that location on the Broward satellite map above. Note that 4 color codes (State blue, County yellow, City red, and Private pink) on this map identify the current protected lands most likely to still have significant original species. It's striking how little of was protected, especially considering that some of these "protected lands" are not now natural. The Institute of Regional Conservation concluded from its 2002 survey that far more imperiled species exist on these small plots than in any large park or large natural area (e.g., the Everglades Management Area). That's because specialized native plants need their original habitat to survive. Some species can't relocate because they don't employ birds, wind, or sticky seeds and remain only in the areas where they evolved for thousands of years.

With this semi-transparent overlay map you can identify which one or two historic plant communities existed where you live or work. Remember them, write them down, or copy this page and mark your location on it.

Most of us don't know these plant communities descriptions, but you can find them on the Florida Native Plant Society site at Native Plants > Native Plant Communities. The names don't match perfectly, but starting with the section links you can quickly narrow a close match. The large trees of your area may be easiest to recognize and you may now realize, for example, that old pines and oaks in your neighborhood may still survive from the pre-development habitat. Click on some of the plant community images so you can begin to imagine the land as it once might have looked. Knowing this much, you can refine that mental image as you learn and observe the history of your neighborhood.

Another wonderful resource is the 1947-1949 aerial map of your neighborhood. Thanks to Broward GIS improvements in the past few years, it is now very easy to find and download your map. If you live in an area that was developed before 1947 there are some older aerial photos and ground photographs of natural land in the county and city historical museums, but you'll need to dig for them. A few of you may even be within the small 1920 aerial coastal series. If you download a 1947-49 map, you can zoom in even closer to better see the individual trees, including a few that may still exist.

Above is Riverland north of the New River and the Secret Woods within the thin white border south of the river. Notice the change in vegetation (sandy, sparse, and dune-like) in the upper left of the photograph. Toggle here to see how the old sandy road and path became Riverland Road.

As you begin to imagine the old botanical legacy of your neighborhood or block, Native for Your Neighborhood (NFYN) database will make more sense. Using your zip code, you can identify particular plants within your legacy plant community. Once you've found these aerial maps, landscape photographs from the historical society, and lists of local plants consider making them available to your local community and neighborhood group.

Keep in mind that most current land has been drained for development, so formerly wet areas are no longer wet. Newer developments and homes adjacent canals probably have fill above the original sand or soils. Some older properties have original soils, although likely drained from their original condition. Therefore, if you are choosing native plants, it may make sense to choose local species that can tolerate your drier conditions, or make a special moist or wet garden with buried pool liner or other water-saving techniques to extend the variety of species you can bring back.

If you can't or don't care to garden with species original to the land, you can also seek them out in the natural protected areas nearby. Not all places still sustaining original native plants have been identified or protected. As you learn the native species within your neighborhood's original plant community, you may the first to recognize them, still living in neglected corners in the most unlikely places. Don't take them, protect them. In a future article we can discuss what to do when we find native plants likely to be the living legacy of this one place on earth.

In the future we explore the potential for Broward to build upon this legacy of 733 still extant species, their beauty, and their significance.
More: Florida Conservation Amendment Passes in Broward 16 to 4

We announced last month the 3 out of 4 victory of Amendment 1 statewide. Since then, additional statistics show that three counties (Broward, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie) had the highest voter approval above all others in the state. In Broward about 16 out of 20 voters said "yes" to the water and land conservation amendment. Although there are differences between the amendment and some other conservation goals, overall it indicates that it is not a select group of conservation-minded folks who care. A much larger slice of the public in Broward wants our environment protected. We can work with that.
Speaker events are on 2nd Wednesdays at 7 pm at the Secret Woods.
Field Trips are usually on a following weekend but they vary,
so always check the Calendar and check again for last minute trip updates.
Visit for a wealth of information about local plants.
Copyright © 2014 Broward Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.

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