December eNews for Broward Native Plants
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Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, with Dahoon Holly, Ilex cassine

Dahoon Holly (see another photo below) grows easily in moist soils providing red berry sprays and food for wildlife. Photo by Mary Keim.

Florida Native Plant Society

Promoting the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Broward County
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December Events

Nature at Mizell-Johnson* State Park with Chris Leon

     *formerly John U. Lloyd State Park

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7 pm

Secret Woods, 2701 W. State Rd. 84, Dania Beach, FL 33312  
Mizell-Johnson State Park, photo Seaview99 on Flickr

We invited Chris Leon of Mizell-Johnson State Park (formerly John U. Lloyd) to tell us some of the challenges of caring for nature in this State Park. Mizell-Johnson SP is surrounded by urban and industrial activity and heavily visited as a recreation beach.

As the Broward community strives to take care are of natural areas (read the December feature article below), we want to learn more about the beauty that is there to save and the realities of managing parks and protecting extant species.

Chris will tell us about the annual January 1 FIRST DAY HIKE in Mizell-Johnson State Park so we can see and learn about the natural areas there firsthand.

Imperiled Butterflies of Florida Work Group
(Open to the public, sponsored by the Dade Chapter)

Thursday, Dec. 15, 9:30 am to 5 pm

Miami Zoo, 12400 SW 152nd St., Miami, FL 33177
Florida Turnpike, Exit 16

RSVP to Mary Truglio:
Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes

Many great presentations (click for agenda) are lined up with experts from all over the State, concluded with an optional field trip at the end of the day. Park in general public parking and head to the main zoo entrance. The meeting room (Florida Room) is located just to the left facing the flamingo habitat. You will not enter the Zoo, so don't pay entry.

Lunch will be 1.5 hours on your own. Badges which will allow you to enter the Zoo for lunch ONLY and dine at their eateries should you choose! If you would like to stay inside the zoo, you must pay admission.

The brief field trip will feature what the zoo is doing for butterfly and habitat conservation. Space is limited so please look for the sign-up sheet as soon as you arrive at the meeting. We will walk approximately 10 minutes each way to get to the site, but you will be able to view the beautiful pine rockland habitat embedded in the zoo grounds on the way!

If you have any educational materials or handouts to share regarding butterflies, plants, pollinators, critical habitats, etc., please bring them as we will have a table set up for distribution. See RSVP above.

A Walk in the Park:

Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, 9:00 am to noon

Mizell-Johnson State Park (formerly John U. Lloyd)
6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004
Starting at Whiskey Creek Hideout (ask at gate, park fee required)
Bring sunscreen, insect repellent, water, and comfortable shoes

This is an annual 2-mile hike sponsored by the State Park and open to the public. There will be plenty of opportunity to see native plants and ask questions during the walk. Hope to see you there.

Check our Calendar at for any schedule updates.
This dedicated crew of Chapter volunteers removed invasive plants from the Secret Woods last month under the excellent direction of staff Naturalist, Scott Bryan (who is not pictured).

Personal Thoughts: Share the Earth
by Richard Brownscombe

The holidays engage us in the kind and generous inclinations of the human heart. We hear holiday stories of the world's needs and generous people doing something about it. In this era of climate change and species extinction, we think not only of other people, but the other species upon the earth. Some of the best we do for the environment and nature is in our home, yard, neighborhood, city, and our efforts in Broward County that celebrate nature and inspire us to create a sustainable community. 

Dahoon Holly, Ilex cassine, Mary Keim

The paradigm for Broward should become sharing our land and resources, making space and leaving water for all the creatures great and small. As we set about evolving our homes and cities to be sustainable, we would do well to be a bit more modest than we have been about what we know. Our understanding of the natural world is quite limited, reflecting the amount of attention we have given it over the past few decades. Sharing the earth with nature is not so much a gift from us as a gift to ourselves. Some of what we need to know about sustainability already exists in nature. These Broward species have existed in this place for 5,000 years. Their lineage is impressive, billions of years. Within their structure, behavior, growth, resilience, and being, a lot is to be discovered about a very complex system that renews resources as it uses them (see How ecosystems work here includes their adaptation to our climate, our water resources, our natural disasters, our bedrock and the process of recycling, energy use, carbon sequestration, and more. Don't we want to preserve this rich legacy not only for its usefulness, beauty, and fascination, but because nature has a right to exist here with us?

Yes, like others I am very impressed by science and the fast rate of our discovery and knowledge (see Google Earth Time-lapse). Yes, discoveries about energy and carbon could be very important to us (see And yes, it is fascinating (see Daniel Csobot). The changes ahead are not just solutions for humans. To create a sustainable community, we need to step back far enough to see the gestalt of the ecosystem and planet, especially the place of other species that we so easily forget to include. Maybe we forget because we don't yet know much about them. There has never been an in depth study of the species and ecosystems in Broward County. The public and school children don't see a lot of photographs or even anecdotal stories of what the species in our own nearby natural areas are doing.

We don't even have up-to-date inventories of our species, let alone understand the complex interdependences among them, or their effect on the air and water, or how insects are using the food supply and feeding others, or the overall energy exchanges taking place here. We don't know much. And we haven't yet engaged the public in very compelling ways about the beautiful and fascinating things happening every day and every night in the natural lands around us.

Butterflies in amber older than 65 million years, Royal Society image in

Sandy Koi opened a small window for us to see some of what is going on. She talked about the complex use of plant poisons by a particular species of butterfly. Then told us how a different species employs different plants with a very different strategy to survive and reproduce. She explained that these specific and complex uses of chemistry and behavior have evolved between butterflies and particular plants over a period of tens of millions of years (from the time of dinosaurs)! We know this in part because of butterflies wonderfully preserved in amber.

Scientific detail isn't for everyone. Photography, short videos, drone photography, down-to-earth stories about wildlife, fresh and hopeful ideas, beautiful native gardens, pleasant trails, beacon technology (like signage, beacons tell your smartphone about the plants and wildlife in your immediate proximity), and local naturalists are other ways to communicate the richness of natural areas. A community determined to keep its last remaining natural areas will find solutions.

People like butterflies so we study them, but what about similar species-specific coevolution among other insects and plants, insects and animals (such as bug species being fed to hatchlings)? What chemistry and biology is going on there? And what is going on in the soil with fungi and bacteria? A lot of essential services (recycling, fertilizing, and cleaning) and likely even communication among plant roots is taking place in the soil. This is fascinating, endlessly complex, and helps us understand what nature needs. It also teaches us applied biochemistry, quantum biology, growth and self-organizing systems, and other useful stuff for understanding sustainable systems. There is a lot we don't know happening in the small places of wild Broward.

That's one reason the Broward Chapter recommends native plants for landscaping. We have no idea what microbes, fungi, countless insects, 200 wild bee species, indigenous and migrating birds, and all the other creatures are doing while we sleep and go to work, but it's pretty likely it's something good for the environment ... and therefore, for us. Native landscaping is something you can do to give much-needed land to nature. Urban Broward has left nature on remnant blocks or islands in a sea of homes and it's pretty tough to stay alive there without natural corridors. Many of our rarest plant species are still surviving in populations of hundreds or even tens of last remaining plants on these remnant natural areas.

Tragically, Broward's 40 natural areas are being overrun by invasive species. The rarest and most fragile populations of last-remaining populations are being strangled for space, light, moisture, and nutrients. George Gann, Chief Conservation Strategist for the Institute of Regional Conservation, hypothesizes that Broward may be the second most at risk county in Florida for species loss (local extinction). We could remove the invasive plants for about a $1 million, and then invest annually in our natural areas to keep them healthy, educational, and fun to visit. There is currently no comprehensive plan or funding to remove invasive plants from Broward natural areas. Would it help if we thought of our natural areas as Broward's living outdoor museum of last remaining rare species and other interesting plants and animals? That's not an inaccurate description. Incredibly, about 500 out of 700 existent Broward plant species live on the small (mostly County) properties within densely populated areas (see this map of yellow County parks, not all of them natural). Two hundred out of 700 species live in the vast unpopulated wetlands of the Everglades Management Areas. That is why it is so important to save them from the rapid invasive plant strangulation in progress.

Within the coming year, the Parks Foundation of Broward and the Friends of Natural Areas of Broward will have a fund and coordinate in-kind and pro bono contributions so that the Broward community can come together to save Broward natural areas. Invasive plant removal is the first priority. We can do this if we take seriously the idea that Broward should be shared with nature. Call 954-661-6289 or email if you have something to give to this effort.

Since the holidays are fast approaching, visit one of Broward's native nurseries to pick out a beautiful shrub to decorate. Collect some native boughs for a holiday wreath. Buy some seeds for table gifts. Give a potted plant (with a copy of the Natives for Your Neighborhood species print-out tucked inside). Talk with friends and family about making Broward a community that shares its space and resources with plants and wildlife so they can continue to live here with us.

Audubon Take Action

Threatened Wood Storks nest in Loxahatchee NWR

"The state of Florida is attempting to take back one of America's National Wildlife Refuges. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat to 250 species of birds, including the largest wading bird colony in the Everglades with more than 7,000 active nests.

"Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past sixty years, the Refuge has flourished into some of the healthiest remaining Everglades habitat. But now, in an effort that has long been encouraged by the sugar industry, Florida has begun the process of evicting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This move will eliminate federal wildlife protections on the 144,000 acre Refuge."

Audubon's site lets you send a sample letter, or one in your own words for even greater impact, directly to Governor Scott. (Click here.)

Photo: Stephen Kent/Audubon Photography Awards

"A Passion for Public Lands"

From the desk of FNPS President Catherine Bowman

"The Society fulfills its mission in many ways, including supporting conservation land acquisition and management of those lands that enhances the diversity of our native plants as well as the health of our native ecosystems.  As Society members we have unique opportunities to use our knowledge and passion to help usher along the stewardship of our public lands...."

Local Land Management Reviews (LMR) should include representatives to speak to the interests of native plants and wildlife and local community concerns for good conservation. The Broward Chapter President receives the dates and lands of upcoming LMRs. If you would like to serve as a reviewer on a future LMR, please contact One individual will be selected as representative.

Reviews are based on Land Management Plans (LMPs) that are rewritten every 10 years. If you would like to serve with a group rewriting a land management plan, please research for the date of the next local LMP and contact the Broward Chapter President. This is important work, especially if current management plans have weak or inaccurate information concerning native plant species, invasive removal, or ecosystem conservation, preservation, and restoration.

Photo Gallery

Florida's Wildlife Corridors

White Egret, National Geographic, photographer Carlton Ward
The Broward Chapter is on Facebook. Like us. Participate in the conversation.
Photo above is by Mary Keim
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 © 2016 Broward Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.

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