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The yearling

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

National Key Deer Refuge, Big Pine Key -- When born in April or May, a Key Deer fawn weighs about 2 to 4 pounds. When grown, a male may weigh up to 75 pounds, a female about 55 to 75 pounds. The little yearling we saw last weekend probably stood about two feet tall and weighed (my guess) 30 or 35 pounds. Key Deer are the smallest of 28 subspecies of white-tailed deer, and may number between 250 and 300. Highly endangered by development, dogs and automobiles, these sweet animals inhabit only ...

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Postdoctoral Fellow Supported by NSF Joins Laboratory of Ken Feeley

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dr. Paulo Olivas is awarded a prestigious NSF postdoctoral fellowship to work in the laboratory of Ken Feeley on "Determining the effect of climate change on the carbon dynamics of the high elevation tropical humid puna". Paulo will be joining the Feeley lab for 2-3 yrs starting in January 2013....

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Home Composting

Friday, May 4, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Composting converts kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrients that can be used to naturally fertilize small areas of your garden, such as vegetable gardens or specific plants that need additional care. Compost is an excellent alternative to synthetic fertilizers and is a natural way to fertilize your garden. Compost is a rich, organic source of nutrients for your garden. In nature, fallen twigs and leaves are converted into nutrients with the help of ...

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Plant Native Palms

Friday, May 4, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald When people think of South Florida landscapes, their minds immediately conjure images of palm tree lined roads along a tropical South Beach. Luscious, deep green palm leaves sway with no signs of cold or drought damage. No pests, no fertilizers, no problems. Maybe you've tried countless times to recreate this scene in your own backyard. You've struggled with a handful of exotic palms but you keep running into the same persistent problems with pests,...

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Growing Coffee Plants in South Florida

Friday, May 4, 2012

Coffee (Coffea arabica) is native to central Ethiopia and is grown commercially in more 80 countries. It is one of the major horticultural crops traded throughout the world. Coffee also makes an attractive evergreen tree for South Florida with dark, glossy leaves and shiny red berries. If you're one of those people who can't live without your cup of coffee in the morning and you are up for a "green" challenge, then consider growing and producing your own cup of joe. Growing coffee...

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South Florida Soils

Friday, May 4, 2012

South Florida soil is one of the key factors in making our area of the world unique.South Florida soil consists of rock, sand, marl and muck. The rock is known as Miami limestone, which is an alkaline calcium carbonate. It is not coral rock as some believe. Miami Limestone is high in pH (7.8-8.1), does not retain water or nutrients well and makes growing many plants a challenge. Our type of limestone is very young geologically and is found only one other place in the world (Bahamas). Marl ...

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The Natal Plum

Friday, May 4, 2012

How would you like to have a beautiful, low-maintenance hedge that produces delicious fruit year-round growing in your landscape? The Natal plum is just such a plant and its dense foliage and thorns make it an effective barrier or security hedge. Add on the deliciously fragrant blossoms and deep green hue of the leaves and it's hard to think of a better shrub for the tropical garden. Natal plum is native to the Natal Province of South Africa and was a popular landscape tree in South ...

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Preparing Your Yard for a Storm

Friday, May 4, 2012

A pitfall to living in South Florida this time of year is the ever present threat of hurricanes. Designing a completely hurricane-proof yard is impossible, but the decisions you make before and after you plant can help your yard survive the fiercest of storms. Hurricanes can be very destructive and have the power to uproot many plants, includint this bamboo. Hurricanes can alter landscapes in an instant, but there are ways you can prepare your garden before a storm appears. When you are ...

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The Magic of Mulch

Friday, May 4, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Mulch is magic. Mulch turns stone to soil, protects your plants from the dangers of the string-trimmer, adds a much needed organic component to your soil and helps keep unwanted weeds from popping up. Turning stone to soil sounds a little too good to be true, and perhaps it is, but mulch can alter your soil profile from pure limestone to something a bit more organic and beneficial for your plants.South Florida's main type of "soil" is Miami...

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What to Do in Your Yard After a Hurricane Hits

Friday, May 4, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the fiercest storms doing their damage from August to October. Hurricanes are powerful storms that very often cause incredible damage to trees and landscapes. If a storm occurs, you may feel helpless, but there are steps you can take in your yard after a storm hits to minimize the damage that has been done. Repairing downed and damaged trees is your first concern. Trees that have been uprooted and ...

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The Red Mulberry: A Bird Attracting Plant for South Florida

Monday, May 7, 2012

As Published in the Miami Herald Red mulberry (Morus rubra), a native of South Florida, has found its way to New York and the central parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. In Florida the red mulberry grows wild in dry fields, pinelands and moist woods, where they can form a thicket of rapid-growing trees. The mulberry grows well in South Florida and needs little care. It hybridizes frequently with white mulberry but it does not usually have a long life, as it will be damaged by ...

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Growing Plants from Air-Layers

Monday, May 7, 2012

As Published in the Miami Herald Growing plants from air-layers is a method of plant propagation that produces new plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant. This is a desirable trait if you are trying to maintain a characteristic such as superior fruiting or flowering. Air-layers do not typically work with monocots such as grasses and palms, but will work with most dicots. Air-layers create instant plants. Air-layering will sometimes have a higher success rate than ...

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Summer Garden

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald The windows are all shut now; the air-conditioner doing its job again. The Spring time has arrived in South Florida. So, what is on tap for the home vegetable garden? One can go inside and vegetate for the entire summer season, or one can evolve and thrive. It is time to break out those unique South Florida vegetables and sit back and watch them flourish among the heat and humidity of the South Florida monsoon. There is still time to plant larger herb plants ...

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Growing Plants from Cuttings

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Growing plants from cuttings is a method of plant propagation that produces new plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant. This is desirable trait if you are trying to maintain a characteristic such as superior fruiting or flowering. Cuttings do not typically work with monocots such as grasses and palms, but will work with most dicots. Making cuttings involves removing a small portion of a mature plant to get it to root. May through September ...

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The American Persimmon

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald The American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, is native from South Florida to New York and the central parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. In Florida, they grow wild in the fields, pinelands and moist woods across our state. South of Lake Okeechobee, it was the indigenous people who had the most success making use of the American persimmon for food throughout the swampy lowlands. Today, one can find remnant stands of American persimmon that ...

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Grafting

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Grafting involves joining a piece of a mature tree (scion) to a seedling (rootstock). The scion will become the new trunk and branches of the tree and the rootstock will become the root system. Some trees, such as mangos, will produce roots using air-layers, but the roots will not be strong enough to maintain the tree. In those cases, grafting can be used successfully. The cambium is a key component in a successful graft as cambium layers from both the scion ...

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Right Plant, Right Place

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald As a horticulturist in a public garden I often hear, "I have this (insert plant name here) and it has (insert problem here), what should I do?" While it is true that there are likely corrective measures to be taken, perhaps pruning, pounds of fertilizer or ounces of pesticide will do the trick. The first step is taking time before planting to do some research and plan what will work best for your needs. There are a few very common mistakes that can...

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Mango Season - Just Satisfying!

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald With mango season here, we are all thinking about that age-old question: how to deal with all those glorious, delicious-and ripe-mangos. There is the only one mainland area of the United States where this delicious and fragrant fruit can be properly grown. For years mangos have been of great value in South Florida, grown with pride in the garden - a fruit to eat when ripe and at all stages of growth. Fresh mangos are a privilege Floridians have....

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Proper Planting in South Florida

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald There are many questions when it comes to planting a new tree or shrub. How large should the hole be? Is it necessary to amend the soil or to add fertilizer? How often should a new planting be watered? What type of mulch should be used? The answers to these questions are simple and can generally be applied to most new plantings. Your first step in planting is to dig a hole for your plant. The hole should be dug just as deep and slightly wider than the ...

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Pruning in South Florida

Monday, May 7, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Pruning is done to control size or shape, to promote flower and fruit production, to remove unhealthy portions of a plant and to open trees up to make them less likely to fall or break apart during a storm. True pruning is an art which takes time and thought. Before you make your first cut, study the plant's natural shape and try to picture this plant in three to four years. Try to maintain that shape in your mind as you prune. This will help you to make...

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Recognizes Conservation Work Undertaken by Fairchild's South Florida Conservation Biologists

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dr. Joyce Maschinski and the Fairchild South Florida Conservation Team received the 2012 U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Recovery Champions Award for significant contributions to the conservation and recovery of South Florida's endangered and threatened flora. We feel very honored to have received this recognition. Image (from left to right): Joyce Maschinski, Jennifer Possley, Devon Powell, and Sam Wright....

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Hat-Rack Horrors

Friday, May 11, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald There is nothing more confounding for a horticulturist than to drive the suburban streets of South Florida and see the horrific tortures administered to the many trees that populate our landscape. Atrocious, awful, brutal, butchered and botched are some of the words that spring to mind when I see the pruning jobs that some homeowners allow their trees to receive. And that's only the first two letters of the alphabet. Trees are very special creatures and...

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Palms are more than Ornamentals

Friday, May 11, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald Many Floridians love palms because of their beauty and elegance, their capacity to grow fantastically in our South Florida climate and their ability to conjure images of island living. Some Floridians use the impressive royal palm for shade; others use the areca palm as a barrier; while many more plant the saw palmetto for its willingness to grow in any soil. For all of these reasons and more, palm trees make truly remarkable landscape ornamentals. But, there ...

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Loofah: Grow Your Own Sponges

Friday, May 11, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald You may know the loofah as a bath sponge, but did you know it can be grown in South Florida? The fibers of the dried loofah fruit stiffen and hold together to form nature's perfect sponge, which is used to gently exfoliate your skin. Immature fruit can be cooked and eaten as squash or substituted for cucumber in salads. The species most adapted to South Florida are Luffa cylindrica and Luffa aegyptiaca. Both species have oblong fruits and are beautiful ...

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Leave the Green: How to Prune Palms Properly

Friday, May 11, 2012

As published in the Miami Herald As a palm lover, my favorite sight is a palm tree crown with a perfect circle of green leaves. The crown is full, strong, healthy and, my favorite, happy. In the wild, palms are not trimmed by man. Instead, they are allowed to keep their old leaves and shed them with time. While a full crown brings a smile to my face, palms missing many of their leaves make me grimace. We have the power to maintain our palms in our yards however we choose. Sometimes, ...

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The National Science Foundation Supports Undergraduate Research

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our welcome to Nicolas Espinosa, Fairchild Challenge Alumnus and undergraduate student of Florida International University who has returned to work with us as a research intern this summer. His internship is being funded by a NSF project on systematics, conservation genetics, and phylogeography of Caribbean cycads (grant number DEB1050340, PIs: Javier Francisco-Ortega, Alan Meerow (USDA), and Patrick Griffith (Montgomery Botanical Center). During this internship Nicolas will be hosted by ...

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Javier Francisco-Ortega Travels to Puerto Rico to Conduct Academic and Research Activities

Monday, May 14, 2012

Invited by the Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation of the Universidad de Puerto Rico (sponsored by the National Science Foundation) Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega travelled to Puerto Rico between May 7 and 10. During this visit Javier was hosted by Dr. Eugenio Santiago-Valentin (Director of the Herbarium of the Botanic Garden of the University of Puerto Rico). The visit involved delivering a lecture as an invited speaker for an undergraduate course on Island Biology ...

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Not your everyday flower

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A day before opening fully. She produces a flower every other year, and this is her year to do so. She is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, the voodoo flower whom we call Phyllis. (Phyllis the Amorphophallus has a kind of reverse alliterative quality.) We've had her for a number of years. She lives among bromeliads, beneath the shade of a foxtail palm. Although she goes dormant every winter, I've never dug up her tuber, but just allowed her to remain resting in place. Deni Bown in her...

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Dr. Alejandro Barbieri (FIU-Biology) Joins Fairchild as Research Associate

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has a commitment for the use of its living collections for science and conservation. This includes applied research with biomedical applications. The coming Science Village will have state of the art facilities that will contribute to develop new research lines, including natural products with taxonomic and biomedical potential. As part of this commitment and our outstanding academic/research ties with FIU, Dr. Alejandro Barbieri has joined us as a ...

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Grant Received to Support Symposium to Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Publication of "Flora of the Bahama Archipelago"

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bahamas Environmental Fund has funded a grant proposal for the organization of a symposium on Caribbean Biodiversity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of "Flora of the Bahama Archipelago". The symposium will take in the Bahamas (October 30 - 31 at Nassau). The Bahamas National Trust is the primary organizer of this symposium in association with the College of the Bahamas, Fairchild, and FIU-Biology. The grant has Brett Jestrow (curator of the herbarium of Fairchild), ...

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