These posts are educational, and appear on the Learn Page.

Chrysopsis in seed on roadside

Brown is Beautiful

At this time of year, the foliage of many native grasses has senescensed, or is senescensing — the technical term for dead or dying. So, it’s time cut them back, right? Not so fast.

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Ice crystals on "frost flower"

Frost flowers — beauty and the brrrrr

Flowers of ice in Florida??? Yes, seeing is believing. I first saw icy flowers — often called frost flowers, ice flowers, ice ribbons, or the exotic-sounding crystallofolia — on a cold December morning in 2010. From a distance they looked like pieces of cotton attached to the stems of tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) growing in my front yard. But up close, these icy formations were just as William Gibson described in the 1800s when he saw them on longbranch frostweed (Helianthemum canadense).

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Paronychia rugelii

Sandquares — Trick or Treat? Both!

Sandsquares, or Rugel’s nailwort (Paronychia rugelii), is one of the most unusual wildflowers you will ever see. This short plant is easily overlooked as it blends into the sandy background where it grows low to the ground. I first came across this plant during a hike in the Ordway Preserve in Melrose, where it was growing in a tall pine xeric flatwoods restoration area. Although it is found only occasionally, populations may occur in dry sites and sandhills throughout the Florida peninsula, extending into Alabama and Georgia.

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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.

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Lanceleaf tickseed flower

Tickseeds – Are you playing matchmaker?

A concern was recently raised about planting two species of Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.) near each other in a garden because the two might hybridize. If they were both Florida ecotypes, so what if they did? We share what research has shown us about this intriguing issue.

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Nature’s salad bar: Deer have a taste for wildflowers

Have you ever had a deer wander into your yard to dine on your landscape plants? Well, that’s what happened several years ago at a wildflower demonstration garden established as part of my extension program at the University of Florida/IFAS research center in Quincy.

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