Florida Master Naturalist Program

Are you passionate about Florida’s natural environment? Would you like to know more about Florida’s native plants and animals and the ecosystems they inhabit? Consider becoming a Florida Master Naturalist, an adult education program designed to “promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Florida’s natural world.” The program is offered through the University of Florida/IFAS Extension offices and other organizations throughout the state, and is open to anyone age 18 or over who is interested in increasing their knowledge of Florida’s natural systems.

Botanical illustration

Drawn to nature

When it’s time to identify a wildflower, most of us head for our favorite field guide and look through beautiful close-up photographs until we find our subject. Some versions are even color-coded to aid the process. I must own all the popular Florida books by now, but alongside those on my bookshelf are also several special volumes I have collected just for their beautiful hand-drawn reproductions of wildflowers.

Wildflower meadow at University of Florida

Grant spotlight: UF wildflower meadow

The University of Florida wildflower meadow in Gainesville is used for teaching and research. The University of Florida’s “Long-term Educational Wildflower Meadow” in Gainesville is part of a larger project that included a survey to evaluate student perceptions and attitudes about Florida native wildflowers and creation of a wildflower meadow for teaching and research. Plans…

Monarch on Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Are non-native milkweeds killing monarch butterflies?

Tropical milkweed can enable monarchs to continue breeding well into fall and winter, causing populations to persist longer in certain areas than they naturally would. Unfortunately, this can foster higher than normal infection rates by a lethal protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). We have suggestions for native milkweeds you can plant to support monarchs.

Elliott's aster flowers

Bloom Report: Fall is Aster Time!

Elliott's aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii) by Ron & Diane Bynum Northern neighbors have their leaves, but we have a rainbow of wildflowers by Jeff Norcini In cooler climates, fall is when “leaf peepers” hit the road to view red-, yellow- and orange-leaved trees. Here in Florida, fall color means wildflowers. And when you hit the road…

Liatris spicata in a landscape

Fall in the wildflower garden

In your wildflower garden this fall, the butterflies, bees and wasps are still busy gathering nectar and preparing for migration or dormancy. Goldenrods, asters, dotted horsemint, liatris, meadow beauty and Indian paintbrush are in their glory now. Take time to enjoy your garden up close and watch the changes of fall.

Goldenaster

Bloom Report: Fall color, Florida style

Fall color hard to find in Florida? Not if you travel along rural roads. Now is the time to be looking for wildflowers throughout the state. Fall wildflowers are in full bloom, with the best places to find them being open areas without homes or businesses. Those areas, including woodland edges, provide the bright light that many species of native wildflowers thrive in. And rural areas are better than urban environments for two reasons – more natural stands of wildflowers, and expectations for manicured landscapes are lower.