The Florida Wildflower Symposium, the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, will be held April 12-13 in Gainesville, one of the state’s premier nature destinations. The annual event is the only one of its kind in the state, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems.
Friday, April 12, will feature a menu of morning field trips, including kayaking on Cross Creek with Adventure Outpost’s Lars Andersen or participating on guided tours of Santa Fe River Preserve, Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Rainforest, or Mockernut Hill Botanical Garden. On Friday afternoon, symposium participants will gather at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension center for timely environmental topics, including presentations on growth and land conservation, the future of Florida’s springs, and the importance of developing bird habitat. An evening social will follow at First Magnitude Brewing Co., Gainesville.
Keynote speakers Pamela and Douglas Soltis of the University of Florida will kick things off on Saturday morning at the center with a discussion of what Florida’s ecosystems may look and feel like in the future. They’ll show how, using plant records, scientists can predict the way Florida’s ecosystems will react to the changing climate. Some species, for instance, will face extinction due to shrinking habitat. Others may greatly expand their presence.
The symposium’s Saturday schedule also will feature hands-on workshops; presentations on attracting native wildlife and using wildflowers in landscapes; a silent auction; and vendor and environmental information booths. A variety of beautiful native plants – including native milkweed for Monarch butterflies – will be available for purchase.
The theme of the two-day event is “A State of Change.” Lisa Roberts, FWF executive director, said, “We’ll discuss how climate change is already affecting our plant communities, but also emphasize that we are all agents of change. By doing things like using wildflowers at home and preserving wildflowers in ecosystems, we all can bring about positive change that helps mitigate habitat loss across the state.”
Symposium admission is $45 for Florida Wildflower Foundation members and $55 for non-members. The Straughn UF-IFAS Extension is located at 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville. For event details, visit www.FlaWildflowers.org/symposium.