European Honey Bees
Photo: Ashley N. Mortensen; University of Florida
The UF/IFAS Extension Panhandle Agriculture Team is pleased to offer three intermediate level beekeeping classes. These classes will be offered via interactive web-conferencing at a number of Extension Offices across North Florida and will be taught by state and nationally recognized specialists. This summer series will be Thursday evenings from 6-7:30 pm Central Time, 7-8:30 pm Eastern Time. Each presentation will be followed by a question / answer period with the speaker. Registration for all three classes is $15 per person, or $25 for a family up to four, and covers course materials and refreshments.
Here is the lineup:
Thursday August 17th, Fall Pest and Disease Management -Varroa Mites and Nosema presented by Cameron Jack, UF/IFAS Bee Lab Apiarist
Thursday August 24th, Working With Pollination Contracts, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection
Thursday September 7th, Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides, presented by Jeanette Klopchin, FDACS Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection.
Here is a link to a printable flyer and further details: Beekeeping in Panhandle Summer Series 2017.
Please call your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to register.
Call and register today!
Water meal, the world’s smallest flowering plant. Photo by Vic Ramey, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
Some of the world’s smallest flowering plants grow in aquatic environments. And a number of these tiny aquatic plants grow natively right here in Florida! Aquatic plants of all kinds display an amazing array of adaptations for growing in water. They can tolerate drought, flood, flowing water, stagnant water, cold spring runs, and warm brackish marshes. They grow in sun and shade and nutrient rich to nutrient poor waters. Some of their adaptations include the ways in which they grow such as being rooted in bottom sediments, submerged, emerged, leaves floating on the surface, or completely free floating with their roots dangling into the water below.
The tiniest of aquatic plants are in this group of free floating plants. Let’s take a look at five of these tiny (less than ½ inch wide) plant species in Florida. They are most noticeable in slow moving waters, ponds, or coves protected from wind where many thousands of them form floating mats almost like paint on the water surface. Even though individual plants are small, some of these plant species are used by wildlife and invertebrates for food and cover. Oftentimes, especially in small ponds, these tiny floating plants can cover the entire water surface resulting in the need for management, especially if the ponds are used for irrigation or livestock watering.
In this article we will look at the native species, but as you are probably aware, there are also non-native representatives of these tiny plants established in our waters, but that is a story for another time…
The images and text below are from the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Species website, list of Plants Sorted by Common Name.
“Water meal, native to Florida, is a tiny, floating, rootless plant. At 1 to 1.5 mm long, it is the smallest flowering plant on earth. It is occasionally found growing in rivers, ponds, lakes, and sloughs of the peninsula and central panhandle of Florida (Wunderlin, 2003).”
Water meal has a grainy feel and can be used as one clue in identifying this plant. Photo by Ann Murray, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
“There are six species of Azolla in the world. American waterfern is the species commonly found in Florida. American waterfern is a small, free-floating fern, about one-half inch in size. It is most often found in still or sluggish waters. Young plants are, at first, a bright or grey-green. Azolla plants often turn red in color. American waterfern can quickly form large, floating mats.”
A large area of waterfern showing the reddish coloration. Photo by Vic Ramey, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
Close up of individual water fern plants. Photo by Ann Murray, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
“Giant duckweed is a native floating plant in Florida. Though very small, it is the largest of the duckweeds…..frequently found growing in rivers, ponds, lakes, and sloughs from the peninsula west to the central panhandle of Florida (Wunderlin, 2003)… Giant duckweed has two to three rounded leaves, which are usually connected. Giant duckweeds usually have several roots (up to nine) hanging beneath each leaf. The underleaf surface of giant duckweed is dark red.”
Close up of individual duckweed plants showing roots hanging freely below the plant. Photo by Vic Ramey, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
A typical scene of duckweed in a quiet cove or pond. Photo by Ann Murray, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
“Small duckweeds are floating plants. They are commonly found in still or sluggish waters. They often form large floating mats…. Small duckweeds are tiny (1/16 to 1/8 inch) green plants with shoe-shaped leaves. Each plant has two to several leaves joined at the base. A single root hangs beneath.”
This is small duckweed, note the single root below each plant. Photo by Vic Ramey, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
“Mud-midget, native to Florida, is another small duckweed, but this one has narrow, elongated fronds. The fronds are usually connected to form starlike colonies. The fronds are 5-10 mm long; the flowers are extremely small and difficult to see. Mud-midget plants float just beneath the surface of the water and is frequently found growing in rivers, ponds, lakes, and sloughs from the peninsula west to the central panhandle of Florida (Wunderlin, 2003)….”
Mudmidget, Photo by Vic Ramey, University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Used with permission.
If you have any questions about aquatic plant identification or management options, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension County office. And, for more information on Florida’s aquatic plants, please see the following resources used for this article:
UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Species
Plants Sorted by Common Name
USDA Forest Service – Duckweed
USDA Forest Service – Water Fern
Native Aquatic and Wetland Plant Fact Sheets
Aquatic Plant Identification List with Pictures and Videos
DId you know that Florida is home to 14 species of aquatic carnivorous plants called “bladderworts?” This one is Utricularia inflata. Photo by Lyn Gettys
I don’t know about you, but living in “La Florida” – “the land of flowers” (the Spanish translation of Florida – named in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León) makes it difficult to have a short list of favorite plants. While I do have a number of plants in my “favorites” list, carnivorous plants are always at the top in the “wow, is that real?” category! Many people have read about, or have seen the carnivorous pitcher plant communities in Florida panhandle bogs, meadows, and seepage slopes, but did you also know that Florida is home to 14 species of aquatic carnivorous plants called “bladderworts?”
Utricularia’s many small bladders (only a few millimeters in size, and seen in this photo as small dark spots) actually trap and digest tiny aquatic invertebrates! Photo by Lyn Gettys
These bladderworts are in the genus Utricularia whose Latin meaning, “little bag,” is descriptive of the many small bladders (only a few millimeters in size) on the plant which actually trap and digest tiny aquatic invertebrates! Bladderworts are found in lakes, ponds, wetlands, and quiet coves of rivers and streams. They are commonly found in waters with low pH and low nutrients. One interesting fact is that bladderworts do not have roots. They have main stems from which lacy, intricate leaves grow. Like other plants, bladderworts produce food by photosynthesis; but the trapped invertebrates supplement the nutritional requirements of this plant. The Botanical Society of America reports that currently 220 species of Utricularia are found in temperate and tropical habitats throughout the world representing the most diverse and widespread genus of carnivorous plants.
A close-up of the tiny Utricularia bladders. Photo by Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University, Bugwood.org
Similar to a Venus fly trap, hairs on the opening of the bladder act as triggers. When tiny prey swim by and contact these hairs, it causes the bladder to spring open and inflate, drawing in water and prey like a vacuum. Research has found that bacteria living in the traps act together in a mutualistic role to digest the food trapped in the bladders. An article in the Journal of Experimental Botany entitled “The carnivorous bladderwort (Utricularia, Lentibulariaceae): a system inflates,” details another fascinating aspect of these plants: the bladders often look like the tiny prey (microcrustaceans/cladocerans) they are catching.
“Darwin (1875), noted yet another insight: aquatic Utricularia bladders bear a striking resemblance to microcrustaceans. The bladder shape, surface reticulations, stalk, and especially the antennae and bristles resemble microcrustacean anatomy. Interestingly, the bladders most closely resemble the littoral zone cladocerans (bosminids and chydorids) that are frequently found or overrepresented in bladders (Guiral and Rougier, 2007; Alkhalaf et al., 2009)….Moreover, experiments reveal that the cladoceran-like structures of bladders significantly improve the capture rates of cladocerans (Meyers and Strickler, 1979; Harms, 1999; Jobson and Morris, 2001).”
Bladderwort flowers are small but beautiful, and are designed to maximize pollination. This is purple bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea). Photo by Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Bladderwort flowers are another beautiful feature of this plant. In Florida most species have yellow flowers, some are lavender to purple. The flowers bloom several inches above the water, and their shape is designed to efficiently attract and remove pollen from pollinating insects like bees. Part of the flower is shaped like a spur which contains a nectar reward for pollinating insects. This link, The Utricularia, to a Botanical Society of America publication details the botany and pollination ecology of bladderworts.
We hope this article piques your curiosity about some of Florida’s obscure native, aquatic, carnivorous plants! Maybe you, too, will include them in your list of favorite La Florida plants!
Below are the publications used for this article:
A stand of purple flowers called “False Dragon-Heads (Physostegia spp.) growing along the St. Marks River. They are behind a stand of pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) that has not yet bloomed. Photo: Judy Biss
This is the time of year when gardens burst forth with lush green growth and colorful flowers. With a little planning and management, your backyard pond can also put on the same show each year and fight unwanted pond weeds at the same time!
Fish and farm ponds are abundant in the Florida panhandle. Most are two acres or less and are used for producing catfish, bass, and bream; for recreation and wildlife viewing; for fishing and swimming; and for irrigation and livestock watering. Ponds play an important role in various aspects of agricultural production and rural life, and for that reason, maintaining their ecological health is critical to their many uses.
Managing aquatic plants is one important component of pond ownership. If you are a pond owner, you have probably seen and read many articles related to controlling and removing aquatic weeds. Just as in terrestrial gardens, there are a number of non-native (and sometimes native) plants that can become quite weedy and problematic in and around your pond. Hydrilla, water hyacinth, torpedograss, Chinese tallow, alligator weed, and the tiny water spangles (common Salvinia) are just a few examples that plague our waterways and shorelines. But, controlling and removing weeds is only part of the bigger picture of pond management. Planting native wetland plants is another ecologically important and aesthetically enriching management tool as well.
By establishing beds of healthy native plants, you are also fighting against weedy non-native invasive plants through competition for space. Some other benefits of native aquatic plants are they act as a barrier, filtering fertilizers such as nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff, and they help control erosion. Also, because native plants are adapted to our local environments, they are generally easy to grow, and most require little or no extra water or fertilizer.
Below are a few guidelines to follow if you are considering the use of native aquatic plants in your pond.
Know Your Plants:
Depending on the type, aquatic plants generally grow in three forms. Emerged, like maidencane or bulrush, submerged like coontail and southern naiad, and floating, like the tiny free floating duckweed, and spatterdock and fragrant water lily which are rooted with floating leaves and flowers at the water’s surface. There are many good UF/IFAS publications and online resources for aquatic plant identification. Some are listed at the end of this article.
Some questions to ask are, what is the primary use of your pond? Is it wildlife viewing, swimming, fishing, irrigation, etc.? The answers to these questions will help you determine how much of your pond and shoreline will be planted, and what types of plants to use. For example, if you use your pond for fishing and irrigation, you should leave some areas of the shore unplanted and mowed to allow for access, and you should not plant submerged plants that may clog irrigation intakes. On the other hand, if your pond is primarily for attracting wildlife, you can plant most of the shoreline including some types of submerged aquatic plants.
Right Plant Right Place:
You may have heard this Florida Friendly Landscaping term before, as it holds true for any garden including aquatic gardens. Choose plants that grow best in the water depth and planting “shelves” you have in and around your pond. By “shelf” we are referring to the slope of your shoreline. Is it a gradual, gentle slope into deeper water, or is it steep and abrupt? Also, become familiar with seasonal changes in your pond’s water depth, as it may affect the plants you select.
Prepare For Maintenance:
Just like a vegetable garden, your newly planted aquatic plants (especially those that are emerged) will need attention in the first year or so of establishment. Remove dead plants and weed out unwanted plants.
Where to Purchase the Plants:
For a list of Florida native plant suppliers, visit the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN) Please Note: collecting wild plants in Florida is subject to various regulations and may require permits! Visit this website for details on wild collection – Florida Plant Collecting and Transport, Regulations and Permitting, University of Florida Herbarium
Here are some helpful resources used for this article with more detail on establishing aquatic plants around your pond.