Earthfest 2010, a celebration of Earth, the greater Everglades, and a sustainable future for all of South Florida, returns to Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center, April 18, Noon – 6 p.m.
(Miami-Dade County, FL) – In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Miami-Dade Parks, Earth Learning, and Expand the Love present the annual EarthFest 2010, an annual festival promoting all things ecologically sustainable, on Sunday, April 18, noon – 6 p.m., at Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center, located at the north beach entrance of Crandon Park, 6767 Crandon Blvd., in Key Biscayne.The free, day-long annual event will feature the very best vegetarian and vegan foods, live performances, workshops, “green” vendors offering earth-friendly products, an electronics recycling center, environmental educational organizations, and much more. The Miami-Dade Parks EcoAdventures™ staff of naturalists will provide Eco Tram tours of the Bear Cut preserve and guided nature walks through the coastal hardwood hammocks of Crandon Park.
Workshops will be going on from noon to 5 p.m. on various topics including:
Earthfest will also feature musical and artistic performances by groups including Heavy Pets, Teri Catlin, Sosos, PHIsonica with Kavayah Amn and Xavier Hawk, Soulflower, Jai (formerly Soul Temple), Jude Papaloko, and Lucho performing an Earth healing ceremony hosted by Val Silidker. Performances are presented by Expand the Love.
There will also be a community drum circle and patrons are encouraged to bring a drum or other percussion instruments to participate.
Admission to Earthfest 2010 is free. There is a $6 per car parking fee. For more information on Earthfest 2010, please visit the website at www.earthfest.us, or call the Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center at 305-361-6767, ext. 112.
Earthfest 2010 is presented by Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department, Earth Learning, and Expand the Love. It is funded in part by Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Department and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, District Seven. Sponsors include Miami Dade College Earth Ethics Institute, Disney Nature’s Oceans, Whole Foods Market, Earth Learning, Natural Awakenings Magazine, Edible South Florida Magazine, WLRN Public Radio, Miami New Times, and CBS Outdoor Advertising.
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April 16, 2010
January 12, 2010
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By: Roger L. Hammer
Very seldom do you encounter any of southern Florida’s native morning-glory vines in cultivation, but at least two species deserve a closer look as horticultural subjects. One is known locally as railroad vine, Ipomoea pes-caprae, but a more descriptive name, comes from the tropical Americas translates from Spanish as “creeper-on-the-earth-by-the-sea.” The common name “railroad vine” is an allusion to the long stems, or “runners” that may extend for a considerable distance down the beach, looking (to someone at least) like railroad tracks. The botanical name pes-caprae is also descriptive and translate from latin as “goat foot” in reference to the leaves, which resembles a goat’s hoof.
Ipomoea pes-caprae is a common morning-glory that inhabits the beaches of the Florida Keys and both coasts of mainland Florida, including sand barrier islands. It serves as a dune stabilizer, trapping shifting sand from wind and waves, and is often the most seaward plant found growing on dunes. Although it is a dune species, it survives quite well when cultivated inland. It can be encouraged as a groundcover through pruning, or planting small plants fairly close together. The attractive, purple, trumpet-shaped flowers are produced periodically throughout the year.
Another species worthy of cultivation is man-in-the-ground, Ipomoea microdactyla, an endangered species found only in Miami-Dade County in Florida. It is most noticeable following fires in its pine rockland habitat, when it can be seen scrambling across the ground or crumbling shrubs. Several times a year (especially following fire) it shows off its eye-catching, trumpet-shaped crimson flowers. A flowering man-in-the-ground is a stunning sight and could easily compete for top honors in a contest on Florida’s showiest flowering plants.
Mature plants of man-in-the-ground produce a large underground tuber. This should come as no surprised because the sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a morning-glory as well. Even when well-tended in cultivation, man-in-the-ground will dieback to the ground in winter but will reappear in spring, generally flowering from April into November. If you are looking for some unusual plants for your home landscape in southern Florida, consider creeper-on-the-earth-by-the-sea or man-in-the-ground. They both deserve more attention from gardeners.
January 5, 2010
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It is that time of year again that individuals make New Year’s Resolutions to do all sorts of different things to improve their lives. With the wonderful cool weather that we are having in South Florida, I propose that one of your New Year’s Resolutions or just life changes that you commit to for 2010 is taking a few minutes to go outside and enjoy the wonderful nature around you.
To enjoy nature you do not have to take a 20 mile hike or even a 3 hour kayak tour, you just need to take a small amount of time to look around you. Wildlife and nature are everywhere. This is also a great time to introduce little ones to outdoor activities before the hot summer temperatures return.
Check out the Miami Dade EcoAdventures website: http://www.miamiecoadventures.org
Follow us on Facebook: Miami-Dade EcoAdventures or on Twitter: MDEcoAdventures
From our family to your – HAPPY NEW YEAR!
October 20, 2009
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by Roger Hammer
When most people hear the word “ficus” They almost invariably envision massive, spreading threes from some far away land. This vision actually is not all that incorrect since some of the world’s largest trees are members of the genus Ficus, and a number of them are cultivated right here in South Florida. The species that we typically see are Ficus benjamina or weeping fig (native to India and commonly used as hedges or large, overbearing landscape trees), Ficus microcarpa or laurel fig (native to Australia and used as a large shade tree on home lots or on street along the turmnpikes), Ficus altissima or lofty fig (native to India and seen lining Old Cutler Road in the Croal Gables area), Ficus benghalensis or banyan fig ( native to India and seen occasionally as a large street or yard tree), Ficus eslastica or rubber tree (native to Africa and seen lining Old Cutler Road in the Coconut Grove area, or as a popluar indoor potted plant) and Ficus religiosa (native to India and sometimes seen in church yards or as a landscape tree, especially around Key West.
Not all ficus, however, fit into the same category as the above species. One is Ficus pumila, which is native from Japan to Vietnam. This species is the vine you see clinging tightly to the concrete Metro Rail supports along US 1 in Miami. Another species, and one that everyone has probably eaten, is Ficus carica, native to the Mediterranean area. This is the familiar edible fig, which forms a somewhat leggy shrub and is cultivated in many parts of the world for its tasty fruit.
There are two Florida native ficus. One, the strangler fig, Ficus aurea is a familiar sight to anyone who has ever walked through the hardwood forests of southern Florida. Strangler figs grow to be immense trees, have a very aggressive root system and are often found growing epiphytically on other trees. Over the years, a strangler fig will kill its host tree.
Another, more well-behaved ficus, is our native short-leaf fig, Ficus citrifolia. This is a handsome, straight-trunked tree with an attractive, well-rounded canopy. If you desire to attract birds to your yard, you will be delighted by the shortleaf fig.
The abundance of small fruit borne throughout the year are beloved by birds, especially cedar waxwings, thrushes, blue jays, mockingbirds, and other fruit-earing birds. It is also the larval food plant of the native ruddy daggerwing butterfly. You will not notice any leaf damage on your shortleaf fig by the larvae of this butterfly, but what you will notice is the attractive adult butterflies with their dark orange wings flitting gracefully around your yard.
Give the shortleaf fig the room that it requires to grow to full stature (typically 30 to 40 feet) and it will become a great shade tree for you and future generations as well. And the birds and butterflies are free.
September 8, 2009
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By Roger L. Hammer
Most Often, common names of plants make some sort of sense but, occasionally, we encounter one that defies our imagination. This is one of them. The green, leathery fruit ripen black and wrinkled with dark brown, somewhat edible pulp that surrounds the seeds. Nothing at all like an apple. The fruit ripen very slowly, which takes the better part of a year. Someone lost count.
At least, the latin name, Casasia clusiifolia, makes sense. Casasiahonors an 18th Century Spaniard, Luis de las Casas y Arargorri, and clusiifolia refers to the leaves, which resemble plants in the genus Clusia, such as pitch-apple, Clusia rosea.
Seven-year-apple is a sparsely-branched shrub of coastal areas in the Florida Keys. Leaves are deep green, glossy and are clustered at the tips of the branches. Female trees bear solitary flowers while males produce clusters of several flowers. The flowers resemble miniature, white frandipani flowers and are sweetly fragrant. Hummingbirds and sphinx moths visit the flowers for nectar.
Some fine examples of seven-year-apple can be found along the nature trail on Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park but, unfortunately, they tend to flower at the height of mosquito season in late spring and early summer. To truly appreciate this beautiful, small tree, plant several in your home landscape. Seven-year-apple is a fine, low maintenance, salt and drought-tolerant plant perfectly suited for a sunny location.
This blog entry was taken from Miami-Dade Parks Tropical Trails magazine Fall Edition 1994
May 21, 2009
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By Roger L. Hammer
Florida is famous for its sandy beaches. But, although beaches may be enchanting on a quiet evening, or a place of peaceful solitude for early morning seashell collectors, they also have a turbulent history of violence. Beaches bear the full brunt of an angry sea when tropical storms and hurricanes literally hurtle the sea on and across the dunes.
One constant feature of a beach dune is that of movement and change. Change can be subtle one day, drastic the next. Plants that live on beach dunes must be adapted to harsh environment. They must be extremely salt tolerant, decidedly wind and drought tolerant, and capable of surviving in nutrient-poor soils. They must have adaptations to survive shifting sand and even be able to help stablize a most unstable environment. This is no easy task.
The plant that is most up to the task is a tall, clumping grass called Sea Oats. It is recognized as such an important plant to Florida’s beaches that it is protected by the State of Florida. Sea Oats grow in dense clumps and spread by seed, underground rhizomes and by rooting readily wherever stems touch the sand. Drifting sand piles up around the plants and is trapped in large quantities, restricting erosion and literally keeping beach dunes from disappearing altogether. Other important dune stabilizing plants in southern Florida are Beach Croton, Railroad Vine, Beach Sunflower, Burrowing Four O’clock, Beach Elder, and some hardy grasses and sedges. hese are floral guardians of that which lies behind the dunes, especially during hurricanes.
The most dangerous single element of a hurricane is the storm surge, which includes the high tides and rough seas that accompany storms as they move landward from the sea. The storm surge and accompanying coastal currents can cause significant changes to the shoreline, removing and erecting huge sand bars in a matter of a few hours. Seawalls offer little or no protection from storm surge and give coastal residents a false sense of security. It would have been far better for Florida’s coastline if our beaches had been spared from development and allowed the dune vegetation to remain intact.
As much as plants are important to the survival of beach dunes, the dunes are important to the survival of many different species of animals. Wherever land meets the sea in Florida, you will find a rich feeding zone for birds, mammals and invertebrates. Shorebirds such as sandpipers, plovers, and willets are a constant sight on beaches as they search for small marine life that becomes washed up or expose on beaches by tides and wave action. Raccoons ply the dunes in search of food, and there are even reptiles, such as the Six-lined Racerunner, Everglades Racer, Gopher Tortoise and, in remote areas like Cape Sable in Everglades National Park, even Diamondback Rattlesnakes. Look closely along the dunes and you will likely see a Ghost Crab scurrying quickly across the sand. At night during the spring and early summer, sea turtles undergo their anicent ritual of laying eggs in nests that they dig in the sand. Upon hatching, the young turtles head for the sea, and the female turtles that survive to maturity will one day find themselves digging a nest on the very same beach where they were born.
Tides and waves also bring interesting and sometimes unsightly things to Florida’s beaches. One obvious feature of any beach is the wrack line, which is the long line of sea debris left along the beach at high tide. The wrack line will include seaweed, shells, flotsam and unforunately, litter and tar. This wrack line is a home for a variety of creatures such as Beach Fleas and other amphipods and therefore is a favorite feeding zone for birds. The wrack line may also harbor stranded sea life such as Jellyfish, poisonous Portuguese Man-O-War, and Sea Cucumbers.
Beaches are a valuable natural asset of the State of Florida, and are a prime area for recreation. Cities have grown on or near Florida’s beaches and the attractiveness of beachfront property has made this the most valuable real estate in Florida. It is wise for all Florida residents to learn the importance of dune vegetation, because without it there would be no beaches. When coastal plant communities are destroyed by storms, new vegetation springs up in the same alternating pattern as before. And when plants like Sea Oats sprout along an eroded beach, new sand is trapped and held in place. Thus, a dune grows. So by simply allowing plants such as Sea Oats to flourish, it will do much to help preserve one of Florida’s most valuable resources, the beaches.
This blog entry was taken from Miami-Dade Parks Tropical Trails magazine – Fall Edition 1994