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One garden's tree is another's...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monkey's apple, Mimusops coriacea, grows throughout the tropics but came originally from Mimusops coriacea. Madagascar, Comoros and the Seychelles in the Western Indian Ocean. It is the handsome tree encircled by the walk leading into the garden from the Visitors Center. Right now, it is dropping golf ball sized inedible fruit. The specific name means leather, and the leaves are quite leathery. While we may admire it, the plant has managed to work its way onto the Global Compendium of...

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Available soon at the Spring Plant Sale!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In just a few days, the 33rd Annual Spring Plant Sale will take place at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. I will be posting some information about the plants that FTBG will be offering. Fairchild's 33rd Annual Spring Plant Sale will take place April 14 & 15 at FTBG during the Food & Garden Festival. We will have a huge variety available including 62 kinds of native plants, many which are wonderful butterfly or bird attracting species. Our native Senna's attract the beautiful...

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Edible plants for sale!

Monday, April 9, 2012

In just a few days, the 33rd Annual Spring Plant Sale will take place at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on April 14 & 15 during the Food & Garden Festival. I will be posting some information about the plants that FTBG will be offering. How would you like to have fresh black mulberries in your breakfast cereal or mulberry cobbler for an evening dessert? Have you ever cooked steamed lemon grass crab legs or chicken satay with lemon grass? Would you like to make creamy lemon grass ice cream? ...

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CTPC Members Deliver Presentations at the Plant Biologists of South Florida Meeting for 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The annual meeting of the Plant Biology of South Florida took place at the Montgomery Botanical Center on April 14. CTPC members delivered oral presentations (FIU-Fairchild Faculty Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega, FIU-Fairchild Graduate Student Klara Scharnagl) and posters (FIU-Fairchild Faculty Dr. Eric von Wettberg and FIU-Fairchild Graduate alumnus Nora Oleas). Image below: Meeting participants....

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Repotting a Giant

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The big plant in its old pot,its leaves bunched together. How do you repot a plant that's as tall as you are? With planning and with help. Anthurium schottianum is a large-leaf plant that I have grown on the back porch for about three years. It's so large, in fact, that it nearly touched the ceiling. As the stem grew taller, I wrapped it in sphagnum moss and surrounded that with a plastic container so the roots would not dry out as they emerged. This was only a temporary Band-Aid...

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Wildlife photos at ENP

Thursday, April 12, 2012

News form Everglades National Park for wildlife photo fans: The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Art Gallery is currently hosting a collection of stunning wildlife photography by Kevan and Linda Sunderland. Sunderland image of black-necked stilt courting ritual. Kevan and Linda Sunderland have been photographing Florida's wildlife for more than 30 years. Their images have appeared in many magazines, including: Florida Wildlife, Wisconsin Wildlife, Wild Bird, Audubon, Nature's Best...

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What to do with your new plants from the Spring Plant Sale

Monday, April 16, 2012

What to do with newly purchased plants After careful reading and perhaps some research, you have selected plants for your home garden. Most of the plants that Fairchild offers for sale have been grown in light shade to full sun. When you bring home plants do not stop on the way home and park your car in the sun. This will cook any plants that are left in the car. Go home, unload plants, make sure their soil feels moist and water thoroughly those that are dry. Place the plants in a lightly ...

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Predators and Pests do Battle over Native Gumbos

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald The fast growing and sturdy native tree known as the gumbo limbo, (Bursera simaruba) has succumbed to a tandem of pests which have combined to turn this once beautiful tree into something belonging in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Gumbo limbos are under attack. The gumbo limbo was the first tree I ever wrote an entire article on and for as long as I have taught the class "South Florida's Top 40 Plants", the gumbo has sat proudly near the top of...

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Palm Outcasts are Actually Supermodels

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald Growing up, my parents told me that my characteristics that set me apart made me special. When I felt like an outcast, it was only because I had individuality, or so they said. In the palm world, there are quite a few palms that don't fit in. These palms have bizarre and rule-defying characteristics. Now I am the parent saying their differences make them beautiful. Palm enthusiasts, me included, have embraced these weirdos and believe that everyone should...

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Herbicides- the good, the bad, the ugly and the alternative

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald All gardeners want the same thing- a vibrant, green garden full of lush vegetation and free of weeds. As gardeners, we spend a lot of time maintaining our plants, ensuring their health and happiness. So, it's no surprise that when aggressive weeds invade, we quickly become protectors of our collection. How should we stop these trespassers in their tracks without hurting our beloved flora? Before you grab the herbicides and make a mad dash to destroy the...

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A New Beginning-Spring has Sprung

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Late to mid-February usually marks the end of frost danger in South Florida and signals a new beginning as plants slowly begin to wake from the slumber that the cooler weather wrought. Oaks will soon drop their old leaves and quickly put forth a new coat of glossy green splendor. Gumbos, native tamarinds, bulnesias and many others will also put forth new leaves to replace the ones they shed in December. Bulnesias are putting forth new growth in the sping The awakening of the trees will ...

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The Mamey Sapote in South Florida

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As Published in The Miami Herald Under the Florida sun, Mamey trees grow in some backyards in South Florida. From massive branches that shoot straight out to grow football-shaped fruits with leathery skin the texture and color of sandpaper. Mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota) is native to the seasonally dry forests of Mexico and Central America. It was widely distributed in Central America before Columbus and introduced to the Caribbean, South America, and Asia. Mamey sapote has been grown in ...

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Biologists find orchids on the move

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Six years ago, an exotic little orchid, Eulophia graminea, popped up in some mulch in South Miami, half way around the globe from its home. Harvey Bernstein, a former Fairchild horticulturist, spotted it in his yard. The next year, it came up again, and FIU ecologist Suzanne Koptur, who lived close by, called it "an exciting botanical mystery." At the 2012 meeting of plant biologists of South Florida, Dexter Sowell, with the Florida Forest Biologist Scott Zona tookthis picture of the...

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Fight is on against Giant African Snails

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald In what sounds like a headline pulled from a science fiction movie, Giant African Snails, Lissachatina fulica, have invaded South Florida. The snails can reach sizes of eight inches, but so far the largest found in Miami-Dade County has been 5 inches. This snail infestation is being taken very seriously, as this pest can damage more than 500 types of plants, as well as homes and even human health. Giant African Land Snails can be identified by the stripes ...

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Chocolate Fruit for South Florida

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald For people who have chocolate cravings, here's a surprising source of satisfaction: the chocolate persimmon - sweet and creamy with subtle notes of chocolate flavor. Chocolate persimmon fruits have green skin and a shape like that of a tomato. The smooth-textured chocolate persimmon ( Diospyros dignya) originates in the dry forests of central Mexico. This is a different fruit than cacao, which is what chocolate comes from. Growing cacao in South...

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Growing Palms Indoors

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Neither the coming of cooler weather nor the lack of a backyard should stop you from adding to your palm collection this winter. Many palms do well as indoor plants and grow slowly, so they can stay inside for years. Growing palms indoors is more challenging than outside because it is harder to match their natural environment. Despite this fact, some shade-loving palms do better indoors than outdoors. Whether planting a shade-loving Chamaedorea elegans or ...

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Use Your Garden to Introduce Children to Nature

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald The intricate pattern of a spider's web glistening with dew in the morning light, the unbridled beauty of an orchid's bloom perched high in an oak, the absolute grace of an osprey flying overhead. All are experiences that happen only in nature, and, no matter how hard we try, they cannot be faithfully reproduced by man. Nature has the power to calm, excite and inspire. The beauty of a South Florida Pineland is a sight to behold. Children clamor for...

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Planting (Cuban) Palms with Personality

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Are you looking to add a palm tree to your backyard plant collection? Instead of opting for the same common palm trees spotted regularly in South Florida landscapes, such as the ubiquitous sabal palm, pick a palm that truly stands out. These three palms are endemic to Cuba and have the spunk and personality that will set your backyard apart. The similar climates of South Florida and the island of Cuba make Cuban palms especially easy to grow locally. These ...

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White Sapote: Unique and Delicious

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald If you're looking for a fruit tree that produces something a little different but does well here, the white sapote, unique and delicious, is a good candidate. White sapote (Casimiroa edulis) is a relative of citrus, sometimes called "custard apple" because of the smooth texture of its flesh. Originally from central Mexico, it is well adapted to the South Florida climate. The white sapote is a smooth -skinned fruit with a shape similar to a...

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Attractive Cocoplum Provides a Tasty Fruit

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald From the Caribbean Islands to South Florida, the cocoplum adds to the color and attractiveness of our white sandy beaches and our beloved River of Grass. Often used in urban landscaping, the cocoplum is usually pruned into a formal hedge, but I prefer seeing it at its pinnacle in the pine flatwoods of South Florida. The cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) is found near beaches, as well as inland throughout the tropical Americas and the Caribbean, including ...

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High Output, Low Input Plants

Friday, April 20, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Your garden should be giving you what you want. Whether you want flowers, fruit, fragrance, wildlife, butterflies, hummingbirds, a touch of the tropics, shade or beauty, your yard should be giving it to you. There are plants that are well adapted to South Florida that can fulfill your needs, and if you choose wisely, those plants will need very little input from you and still give you what you want. As someone that has gardened for pleasure and profit for ...

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Graduate Student from Harvard University Visits Fairchild to Collect Plant Material from the Bahamian Plot

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Bahamian Plot of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden provides an example of the vision that Dr. David Fairchild and Col. Robert Montgomery had for our Garden. The plot was established as a result of extensive plant exploration in the Bahamas Islands to produce the flora of this archipelago. This plot has unique plants that provide extraordinary opportunities for research. Luke Nikolov a graduate student from Harvard University, traveled to our Garden specifically to collect and examine...

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The Canistel, A Winter Fruit for South Florida

Friday, April 20, 2012

 

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Edible Gardening

Friday, April 20, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald One year ago, I attended the Edible Garden Festival at Fairchild with my then nine year old daughter, Samantha. Before we visited the festival, Sam went online to see if there were any lectures she would be interested in. She wrote down several talks in her fourth grade scrawl, including everything from creating your own vegetable garden to composting with worms. I attended several lectures independent of my daughter and was inspired by each speaker to not ...

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Borneo Expedition

Friday, April 20, 2012

By Noris Ledesma My first glimpse into the primeval land of Limbang, Sarawak, Malaysia; its people, and ultimately the wild mangos of Borneo, woke up the hidden memories from my past in the Colombian Amazonian. The heat and the humidity made everything so green and exuberant. I was still jet-lagged from my travels, when I came to my senses within this foreign, yet hauntingly familiar landscape. The different shapes and textures of the leaves and fronds brought me back to the realization that ...

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What plants can tell you

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mama screech owl. Early this morning, I was watering some newly planted milkweeds, when I looked at a firebush and noticed some newly deposited bird droppings. Looking up, I discovered our mama screech owl, still sleeping in the early sun. Knowing that her nest is in our old avocado tree, I found two young owlets, very well hidden among new growth, but sitting out of the nest nonetheless. They stayed put long enough for me to photograph them. Take home lesson: keep a close eye on your ...

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Quite a sight

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Every year, the Oncidium spachelatum in the front yard gets bigger and better. This year, it has a breath-taking abundance of flowers. Here it is. Fertilize every two weeks; let Nature do the rest....

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Invasive mangrove removal continues at Fairchild and nearby Matheson Hammock Park

Friday, April 27, 2012

(Staff from the IRC in the dwarf mangroves, north of Fairch In 2008, scientists from several institutions including Fairchild first documented the escape of the non-native mangrove Lumnitzera racemosa into the surrounding natural mangrove forests, where plants had spread to cover 20 acres. We took action immediately, drawing on help from volunteers, staff, and two different contractors. Four years later, tens of thousands of trees and their seedlings have been removed. This April, The ...

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