Tag Archive: Florida

Florida Natives: Stokes’ Aster

Florida Natives: Stokes’ Aster

‘Mel’s Blue’ Stokes’ Aster. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Florida is home to some of the most beautiful flowering perennials. An exceptional one for the panhandle landscape is Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis) as it is showy, deer resistant and easy to care for. Unlike other perennials, it generally is evergreen in our region so it provides interest all year.

Upright habit and profuse blooming of ‘Mel’s Blue’ Stokes’ Aster. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

The original species of Stokes’ aster has purplish-blue flowers but cultivars have been developed with flowers in shades of white, yellow, rosy-pink and a deep blue. The flowers are large, eye-catching beauties that bloom in spring and summer. They also last well as a cut flower. You will find that bees and butterflies will appreciate their nectar! Remove spent flowers after blooms have faded in order to encourage repeat flowering.

A location in your landscape that provides part sun with well-drained rich soil is best for this perennial. Stokes’ aster is native to moist sites so it does best with regular moisture.

Stokes’ aster attracts butterflies like this black swallowtail. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

As with many perennials, the plant will form a large clump after a few years; this gives you the opportunity to divide the clump in the fall and spread it out in your landscape or share the joy with your gardening buddies.

For more information:

Gardening with Perennials in Florida

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/23/florida-natives-stokes-aster/

Ecotourism in Northwest Florida

Ecotourism in Northwest Florida

Wakulla Springs is home to some of the best wildlife watching in all of northwest Florida. It’s not unusual to see manatees, alligators, and dozens of species of birds in one boat trip. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

What do you imagine when the word “ecotourism” comes to mind? I know  I usually daydream about a trip my husband I took to Costa Rica several years ago, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests as we ziplined through the canopy. I might also think about visiting a National Park, following a neatly maintained trail and stopping at signs placed at just the right spot so visitors can read and understand the special features of the place. Ecotourism, done right, brings a visitor to a unique place, tells its story, and immerses the visitor in the sights and sounds in a way that treads lightly on the location. I always know I’ve been on a good ecotour when I’m tired, happy, and have learned or seen something new.

A colleague with The Conservation Fund has stated that sustainable tourism includes: “Authentic experiences that are unique and specialized to the place (its culture, heritage, and natural resources), emphasizes quality over quantity, focuses on distinctive destinations, unspoiled landscapes, and historic buildings, and differs from mass-market tourism by favoring locally-owned businesses, thereby increasing circulation of money in the local economy.” The truly wonderful thing about ecotourism is that local touch; it exists solely because of the place, so it cannot be outsourced. The best storytellers about those places are usually the people who have lived there for many years, so by its very nature, ecotourism provides jobs for local residents.

Northwest Florida has hundreds of unique locations for visitors and locals to explore…we have centuries-old forts, clear-blue springs, endless rivers and creeks to paddle, trails on the coast and up our modest hills. We have caves and underground caverns, waterfalls, pitcher plant prairies, fishing, wildlife watching, and reefs for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. While millions come here for our quartz-sand beaches, other options that highlight our natural ecosystems deserve more attention and notoriety.

A few years ago, several Extension Agents received funding for a project called Naturally EscaRosa. The idea behind that project was to help promote and create businesses that sustainably used our agricultural and natural resources. The website (www.naturallyescarosa.com) has a list of over 100 businesses and locations where locals and out-of-town visitors can explore the less well-traveled areas of Escambia and Santa Rosa County. As you move east down the coast, Walton Outdoors, the local Visit Florida affiliates, and other privately managed media groups have done similar work, providing a showcase for these treasures in our midst.

This summer, try one of the local ecotourism or agritourism venues near you! Moreover, when your friends and family visit from out of town, encourage them to do the same. We cannot have a successful economy without a healthy ecosystem, and supporting these local and regional businesses is good for both.  

For more information on sustainable ecotourism, visit the Society for Ethical Ecotourism (SEE), and for information on starting or visiting an agritourism business, try Visit Florida Farms. And as always, reach out to your local County Extension agents, and we will be more than happy to point you in the right direction to discover to places to explore with your family.

 

 

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/17/ecotourism-in-northwest-florida/

The Status of Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture in the U.S. and Florida

The Status of Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture in the U.S. and Florida

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY DR. CHARLES ADAMS, FLORIDA SEA GRANT

 

The demand for seafood in the US continues to grow. This growth is a function of a number of factors, including the increased awareness of the healthful attributes of many finfish and shellfish products, the increased availability of several key imported, cultured species (shrimp, tilapia, pangasius), and more convenient packaging for home consumption, to name just a few.   In terms of wild-caught seafood, effective management at the state and federal level helps ensure the sustainable harvest of traditionally important species, such as reef fish, scallops, flounders, mackerels, and crab.

The famous blue crab.
Photo: FWC

According to the latest data from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the US domestic fisheries fleet landed about 7.8 billion pounds of edible seafood products, valued at $ 5.2 billion.  Florida plays an important role in this industry, particularly within the Gulf and South Atlantic region.  Approximately $ 250 million worth of seafood is landed by the commercial harvesters in Florida on an annual basis, with some species being landed in Florida, and virtually nowhere else … including pink shrimp, spiny lobster, grouper and stone crab.  But wild harvest is not the only source of finfish and shellfish products.

The commercial aquaculture industry is also growing, as the demand for species grown within controlled systems (such as catfish, oysters, striped bass, crawfish, and salmon) continues to increase.  The latest NMFS data indicates that the commercial aquaculture industry in the US harvests approximately $ 1 billion worth of freshwater and saltwater species annually.  The success story for aquacultured food items in Florida is molluscan shellfish, in particular cultured hard clams.

Though our wild seafood stocks are sustainably managed and aquaculture production is increasing, approximately 90% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported.  Our domestic harvest and culture of seafood simply cannot keep up with demand.  We are eating more and more seafood … with the latest NMFS estimate of annual, per capita seafood consumption being 15.5 lbs (edible meat weight).  This is the highest level of per capita consumption since 2010.  Even though demand is growing, consumers should be confident that the traditional species from our nation’s wild stocks will be there in the future.   In addition, the aquaculture industry will help the seafood industry keep pace with growing demand.  The seafood industry will continue to be an important source of incomes, jobs, and tax revenue for our coastal communities.  And given the increasing number of cultured species and innovative packaging/preparation methods … now is a great time to be a seafood consumer!!

For more information about the US seafood industry, go to https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/Assets/commercial/fus/fus15/documents/FUS2015%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf.

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/17/the-status-of-commercial-fishing-and-aquaculture-in-the-u-s-and-florida/

Water conservation crucial under current drought conditions in Florida

Water conservation crucial under current drought conditions in Florida

The Florida Panhandle received much needed rain this week, helping to alleviate dry conditions in many areas of the region. However, drought conditions persist in the rest of Florida. According to the US Drought Monitor drought conditions range from moderate in north central Florida to dire in the south-central portion of the state. Precipitation is at 25- 50% of normal rates in the Orlando region. In response, city and county governments and Water Management Districts in these areas are increasing restrictions on outdoor residential water use. In homes with irrigation systems, 50% of the water consumed is typically used for irrigation.

Indoors, we can all greatly reduce water use by adopting relatively simple conservation practices. In a typical household, flushing toilets consumes the most water (24%), followed by showers (20%), faucets (19%), the clothes washer (17%) and leaks (8%) (Source: 2016 report by the Water Research Foundation).

  • Consider replacing toilets installed before 1994 with new ones. Pre-1994, toilets used between 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. From 1994 to date, regulations require toilets to use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush and some use as little as 1.28 to 0.8 gallons per flush.
  • Placing an object in your toilet tank (like a filled plastic bottle or a brick or two) reduces the amount of water needed to fill the tank and is an inexpensive alternative to replacing a toilet.
  • Reduce the amount of time you take per shower, and replace showerheads with low-flow models, which deliver 0.5 – 2.0 gallons per minute. Standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons per minute. Low flow models typically range from $ 10 to $ 30.
  • Placing a faucet aerator on the end of a faucet can reduce water used from 2.2 gallons/minute to 1.5 gallons per minute. Costs typically range from as low as $ 5 to $ 15 each.
  • Run the washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full.
  • Check for leaks in plumbing and appliances (and fix them!). You can check for toilet leaks by placing food coloring in the tank and seeing if the dye appears in the toilet bowl.

Conserving water at home has the double benefit of reducing your water bill and your energy bill since the amount of energy used to heat water and run the dishwasher and washer/dryer are reduced.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District provides an excellent, easy-to-use online Water Use Calculator, which you can access by going to https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/conservation/thepowerof10/. You can calculate your approximate current water use, and compare that to how many gallons your household could save by changing specific habits (like reducing shower times), reducing outdoor irrigation times and upgrading fixtures and appliances.

The US Drought Monitor can be accessed at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

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Author: Andrea Albertin – albertin@ufl.edu

Dr. Andrea Albertin is the Northwest Regional Specialized Agent in Water Resources.

Andrea Albertin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/03/water-conservation-crucial-under-current-drought-conditions-in-florida/

Citrus Canker in Northwest Florida

Citrus Canker in Northwest Florida

Citrus canker symptoms on twigs, leaves and fruit. Photo by Timothy Schubert, FDACS

In November 2013, citrus canker was found for the first time in the Florida panhandle in Gulf Breeze in southern Santa Rosa County. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) tested and confirmed the disease on grapefruit trees in a residential landscape. Since that time, citrus canker has been confirmed on citrus trees at 27 more locations in Gulf Breeze. To my knowledge it has not been found in any other location in the panhandle. Not yet.

Citrus canker lesions on leaves are raised, rough and visible on both sides of the leaf. Photo by Timothy Shubert, FDACS.

Citrus canker is a serious bacterial disease that only infects citrus trees. It will not infect any other plant species nor is it a threat to human health. This highly contagious disease has no cure as yet. Severely affected trees experience substantial leaf and premature fruit drop and serve as a source for infecting other citrus in the area. The disease spreads through wind, rain and transportation of infected plant material from other locations.

We do not know how the disease came to infect trees in our region. The disease could have been spread through infected fruit or trees brought here from areas where the disease is established, such as central or south Florida.

What should you do if you suspect your citrus is infected with this disease?

Citrus canker lesions can appear in the mines left by the citrus leafminer pest. Photo by Timothy Schubert, FDACS

  1. Look at Homeowner Fact Sheet: Citrus Canker for more information.
  2. Leave the tree in place in your yard and call the Division of Plant Industry at FDACS at 1-888-397-1517 for a free inspection and testing of your citrus trees.
  3. Consult your local Horticulture Extension Agent for more information and control/removal strategies.
  4. Proper removal of infected trees is recommended to prevent the spread of citrus canker but is not mandatory.

 

For more information please see:

Save Our Citrus Website

UF IFAS Gardening Solutions: Citrus

Citrus Culture in the Home Landscape

UF IFAS Extension Online Guide to Citrus Diseases  

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/12/citrus-canker-in-northwest-florida/

Florida 4-H Celebrates Global Youth Service Day

Teens from across the panhandle joined forces to take a stand against cancer by celebrating Global Youth Service Day.

This weekend, hundreds of Florida 4-H youth are taking a stand against cancer by distributing chemo kits to cancer patients.  Our 4-Hers are joining millions of others around the globe who are celebrating Global Youth Service Day during the weekend of April 21-23.

This youth-led initiative was spear-headed by Danielle Tinker, a 4-Her from Escambia County.  She and a committee of youth from across the Florida panhandle collected nearly 1,000 items for chemo kits, organized them, and packaged them with a handwritten note of encouragement.  One of the “H’s” in 4-H stands for “hands to larger service” and is a cornerstone of the 4-H positive youth development experience.  Because of programs like this, 4-Hers are 4X more likely to give back to their communities.

Regional Specialized 4-H Agent Heather Kent shares, “It has been a honor to support these youth in this project- they continue to amaze me!  I don’t know of a family that has not been touched by cancer and I can’t think of a more relevant cause to support.  This project has help our group grow compassion, and has helped the cancer patients grow courage!”

Youth collected nearly 1,000 items for the kits and organized them by age group and gender.

Each kit had a handwritten note of encouragement included.

Youth sewed fabric drawstring bags to contain the kit items.

This project would not have been possible without the support of Youth Service America, State Farm and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.  Farm Credit of Northwest Florida not only supported this project monetarily, but their employees also collected and donated items for the chemo kits.  This weekend marks the culmination of this project during Global Youth Service Day.  Global Youth Service Day recognizes the positive impact that young people have on their communities 365 days a year. GYSD is celebrated in more than 135 countries with youth-led service projects and community events and is the largest service event in the world.

“We know that young people are uniquely suited to help solve problems – if given the opportunity,” said Steven A. Culbertson, CEO and president of YSA (Youth Service America), the leader of GYSD. “Today’s social and environmental problems are immense; we need youth in Florida to be leaders and problem solvers today, not just the leaders of a distant tomorrow.”

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. Over 230,000 members in the State of Florida help to make up the community of more than 6.5 million young people across America. 4-H is a non-formal, practical educational program for youth and is the youth development program of Florida Extension, a part of the University of Florida IFAS.  To find out more information, or how to get involved, visit http://florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

Learn more and browse GYSD activities around the world on the GYSD Map at www.GYSD.org.

Connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youthserviceamerica and on Twitter @YouthService and #GYSD.

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/21/florida-4-h-celebrates-global-youth-service-day/

A Florida Native; Tape Grass

A Florida Native; Tape Grass

Article by Gadsden County Extension Agent

DJ Zadarreyal

 

Vallisneria americana, also known as tape grass or eel grass, is a common native aquatic weed in the state of Florida. Tape grass has tall, grass-like leaves that are a light green in coloration and rise vertically from the crown to the top of the water. Once the leaves reach the top of the water, they casually float along the surface.

Common tape grass Vallisneria americana.
Photo: UF IFAS

The technique of propagation is by runners. These runners grow out from the crown along the sand and new plants arise from the end of them. There are separate male and female plants, although they grow on the same plant. The female flowers are on lengthy stems, which reach to the surface. However, the male flowers are loosely attached at the base of the leaves. When released, the male flowers float to the surface where they move alongside the female flowers to fertilize them.

 

A good way to distinguish tape grass from other weeds is to observe the leaves and the tips. Tape grass have round leaf tips while many other weeds have pointed leaf tips. In addition, tape grass is a submerged weed that possesses long, ribbon like leaves.

 

There are several uses for tape grass. Restoration of the pond floor is a useful purpose. One of the benefits of tape grass is that they are great oxygenators. Tape grass is also a common home based aquarium plant. They provide an eye-catching scene that fish and humans enjoy.

 

 

Source:

Guide of Tropical Fish, Everything You Need to Know About Tropical Fish

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/14/a-florida-native-tape-grass/

The Florida Master Naturalist Program Training Local AmeriCorps Volunteers

The Florida Master Naturalist Program Training Local AmeriCorps Volunteers

By: Laura Tiu and Sheila Dunning

 

For the second year in a row, University of Florida Extension Agents Sheila Dunning (horticulture) and Laura Tiu (marine science) taught a Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) Coastal Module to a newly recruited AmeriCorps group in Okaloosa and Walton counties. The AmeriCorps members have been recruited to work with local the non-profit Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance during the 2016-17 school year teaching Grasses in Classes and Dunes and Schools at the local elementary schools.

AmeriCorp volunteers learning about coastal environments by attending the Florida Master Naturalist class.
Photo: Laura Tiu

As part of the training, FMNP students participated in an aquatic species collection training to enable them to collect species for touch tanks used throughout the school year. At the training, we met two Fort Walton Beach High School science teachers. Teachers Marcia Holman and Ashley Daniels (an AmeriCorps 2013 member herself) were surprised to see two former students in our AmeriCorps 2016 FMNP class; Dylan and Kaitlyn.  Dylan, they reported, was a student that many teachers worried about during his freshman year.  However, he just blossomed because of his involvement in the marine classes and environmental ecology club.  They were most proud of his leadership designing and implementing a no-balloon graduation ceremony.  This prevented the release of potentially harmful balloons into our coastal waterways where they pose a hazard to marine life.

 

The teachers were so happy to see both students had joined AmeriCorps and were receiving FMNP training. They realized that they were making a difference in the lives of their students and the students they had trained were working to preserve and protect the environment in their communities.  When asked if they had any other students that we need to be prepared for Holman replied, “It’s hard to tell at this point in the year if we have any rising marine science stars, but we did have 20 kids show up for the first meeting of the ecology kids club.”  We can’t wait to meet them.

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Author: Laura Tiu – lgtiu@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent – Okaloosa and Walton Counties

Laura Tiu

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/31/the-florida-master-naturalist-program-training-local-americorps-volunteers/

Florida Natives: Florida Red Anise

Florida Natives: Florida Red Anise

Dark red flowers of Florida red anise arrive in the springtime. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Springtime brings small but very pretty red blooms on an outstanding native shrub/small tree, Florida red anise (Illicium floridanum). It occurs naturally in the wild in the central and western panhandle of Florida and west along the gulf coast into Louisiana. Its natural environment is in the understory along streams and in rich, wooded areas.

This is a great shrub for a part shade to shady and moist area in your landscape. The dense foliage, dark green leaves and the fact that it is evergreen all year makes it a great choice for an informal hedge. Plan for it to grow to a maximum height of 12 to 15 feet.

Dense growth habit of Florida red anise. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

The leaves have a licorice-like aroma when crushed but this is NOT the species that gives us the edible culinary anise. Maybe it is that aroma that makes this a relatively pest-free plant!

Yellow anise (Illicium parviflorum) is a very similar native shrub but has small yellow flowers and adapts better to a drier environment. The native range of the yellow anise is north central Florida.

 

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/09/florida-natives-florida-red-anise/

NISAW 2017: Cuban Treefrog—Invasive Invader in Florida

Guest Blogger – Dr. Steve A. Johnson, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

Cuban Treefrog. Photo credit: Steve Johnson

The National Invasive Species Council defines an invasive species as one that is introduced outside its native range where it causes harm (or is likely to) to the environment, economy, or human quality of life. The Cuban Treefrog in Florida qualifies as invasive under all three parts of this definition. Introduced from Cuba to Key West inadvertently in a shipment of cargo about 100 years ago, this frog is now established throughout Florida’s peninsula, and isolated records from numerous panhandle counties continue to accumulate. There are many records of Cuban Treefrogs from other states in the US, and even Canada. Most of these frogs originated in Florida and found their way to points beyond as hitchhikers on vehicles or as stowaways in shipments of ornamental plants. Fortunately, Cuban Treefrogs do not appear to have gained a permanent foothold—yet—outside of the Sunshine State.

Cuban Treefrog eating a Green Treefrog. Photo Credit: Nancy Bennett

Cuban Treefrogs are well documented predators of Florida’s native treefrogs and are likely responsible for declines in native treefrog numbers, especially in suburban neighborhoods. Fortunately, research has shown that when native frogs (e.g., Squirrel and Green Treefrogs) are still present that they respond favorably to the removal of their invasive cousins. Cuban Treefrogs are known to seek shelter in electrical utility equipment or even a home air-conditioning units, and as they climb around they may cause short circuits, leading to costly repairs. They also invade homes, ending up in a toilet at times, and have also sent young children to the emergency room. The frogs exude a noxious skin secretion when handled, which is extremely irritating to mucous membranes, especially one’s eyes. So be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling a Cuban Treefrog.

To mitigate the negative impacts Cuban Treefrogs are having on Florida’s native wildlife, as well as their effects on our quality of life, I recommend that these invaders be captured and humanely euthanized. For tips on how to capture, identify, and humanely euthanize these frogs visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/ and also read “The Cuban Treefrog in Florida. Report sightings of this species outside of the Florida peninsula to Dr. Steve A. Johnson, and within the peninsula report them on EDDmapS.

 

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/02/nisaw-2017-cuban-treefrog-invasive-invader-in-florida/

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