The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs recently announced its 2019 Ella P. Woods Paths of Sunshine Award winners. The program recognizes the Florida Department of Transportation’s commitment to native wildflower and plant conservation and applicants’ understanding of the department’s policy of conserving and managing naturally occurring roadside wildflowers.
Winners received certificates from the Florida Wildflower Foundation with which to purchase native Florida ecotype seeds for roadside plantings. Winners were:
First place – FDOT District 2 Chiefland Maintenance, for a milkweed study on State Road 24 north of Bronson and State Road 121 south of Williston. The project, led by Dr. Jaret Daniels of the Florida Museum of Natural History, is improving overall pollinator habitat, especially for migrating Monarch butterflies.
Second place – FDOT District 6, for its Spanish needle project along the Tamiami Trail in Miami between Southwest 177 and Southwest 172 avenues. The project is helping to increase awareness of Bidens alba’s ecological significance and leading the effort to change the department’s and public’s perception of the plant from an undesirable weed to beautiful, appreciated native wildflower.
Third place – FDOT District 3 Maintenance, for a project on State Road 77 near the Bay and Washington counties line. This project is assisting one of Florida’s beautiful state-listed threatened native plants, the Gulf coast lupine. Before the widening of State Road 77 in Washington County, seed was collected and dispersed across the Bay County line, where the road project was complete. The species continues to multiply and thrive.