Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project (FL, USA)'s Journal

September 16, 2022

EcoFlora Performance Survey

Hello All,

If you've enjoyed the hikes, bioblitzes, and have learned a thing or two on plants through the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project please leave us a review on this performance survey!

Link to Survey:

We hope you aren't too tied up in Tievine or these surveys to miss our monthly bioblitzes! Remember you can sign up at the Selby Gardens website.

Posted on September 16, 2022 12:13 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 14, 2022

Red Bug Slough Bioblitz Tomorrow and FNPS Bioblitzes!

Don't forget to sign up for tomorrow morning's Red Bug Slough Bioblitz at 9am! It's the fall wildflower season so let's see what is blooming? Will we find a beautiful blazing star? A fantastic Fakahatchee grass? Magnificent magnolias perhaps? Colorful crossvines? Or will be be leaping over creeks to find the rare pine lily? Be sure to keep following for more wonderful opportunities to explore Florida's colorful fall season.

Pine Lily or Lilium catesbaei is a rare seasonal lily preferring open pine flatwoods habitat and can be found across the American Southeast. These lilies can bloom over 6 inches across and are highly seasonal only found in September through November blooming in our area. Keep a look out!

Also if you are interested in getting involved outside of EcoFlora, the Serenoa local chapter Florida Native Plant Society is back and has their own hikes. So let's get out there and document our wonderful flora and fauna!

Posted on September 14, 2022 06:30 PM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 06, 2022

September and October Bioblitzes and a Helpful Native or Invasive Guide

Hello EcoFlora Bioblitzers!

The invasion has begun and we're relying on your help to identify and monitor the spread of invasive plants in Florida. Other than helping us monitor them here, and planting natives while removing invasive plants in your yard you can also contact your local park services and see if they have any invasive removal days to help. Otherwise we have the bioblitzes times below and remember to sign up on the Selby Gardens Website here!

Ready to join the search for invasive species and march with us against these invaders? Check out the September and October Bioblitzes below!

September 15th 9am-12pm Red Bug Slough 5200 S Beneva Rd, Sarasota, FL 34231 with Sarasota County

September 23rd 9am-12pm Robinson Preserve Expansion ADA Accessible Hike (Full rubberized trail and facilities) 10299 9th Ave NW, Bradenton, FL 34209 with Manatee County

October 14th 9am-12pm Crowley Museum and Nature Center 16405 Myakka Rd, Sarasota, FL 34240 collaborating with Crowley Museum and potentially Sarasota County

October 20th 9am-12pm Duette Preserve Wildflower Display 2649 Rawls Rd, Duette, FL 34219 with Manatee County

Don't forget to sign up on the Selby Gardens Website here!

Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anarcdioides) was once a very common landscape and shade tree in the 1960's in Florida but is now one of the few federally banned plants. Originally brought to Florida for it's showy fruits and shade it rapidly grows, spreads, and forms thickets and is eaten by very few native animals. This forms a monoculture of just carrotwood blocking out all other plants and animals and during the dry season can be a fire hazard.

Having trouble figuring out invasive vs native species? Here's a common guide to many of the confused invasive vs native plant species!

Posted on September 06, 2022 01:21 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 02, 2022

“FISC-ally Responsible Flora” - September & October Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Ecoquest

Hello EcoFlora participants and inquirers! It is time for a new EcoQuest. For the months of September and October, we will be doing something a little different. We usually center our EcoQuests around certain plant families, but for this quest, we will be looking for species on the FISC list. If you live in Florida, chances are you have seen some of these species in your backyard.

Track how many invasive species you find during this ecoquest here!

Water Hyacinth, Paperbark or Melaleuca, and the Chinese Banyan are some of the most invasive and damaging trees in our area affecting everything from native ecosystems, invading gardens, to even strangling our native oaks!

So, what is the FISC List? It is the Florida Invasive Species Council’s list of invasive plants. You might be familiar with its old name, FLEPPC (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council). The name was recently updated to reflect more accurate terminology. Terminology and categorization are crucial when it comes to invasive species. The new FISC list of invasive species is divided into two sections: Category I and Category II. 

Category I plants are the most severe. This is measured by displacement of native species, or by the disruption of a stable native ecosystem. Category II plants are invasive plants that have not yet disturbed or displaced habitats or species but are reproducing outside of cultivation. These plants have the potential to become Category I plants if left unchecked, so both categories should be treated as a threat. Currently, there are 165 species on the FISC list. This list is updated every two years to include any newly introduced species and to reclassify the severity of existing invasive species. 

Some of the species we will be on the lookout for include the widely known Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius), Caesarweed (Urena lobata) and Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius). We will also be highlighting some of the “charismatic” invasive species that are commonly found in landscaping and in the Florida plant trade. These include:

Brazilian Pepper on the left, Caesar Weed in the center, and Rosary Pea on the right.

Category I

Pink Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin)

Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora)

Category II

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum cv. Aureum)

Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe x houghtoni)

So, why should we care about documenting invasive species? By utilizing apps like iNaturalist, we can help natural land managers track the spread of an invasive plant. By doing so, we are better prepared to stop it from spreading further. Economically, invasive species management is a laborious and expensive endeavor. For example, it costs the state of Florida over 200 million dollars annually.

One of the best ways to help the fight against invasive species can happen right from your home. By removing known invasive species from your garden and planting native alternatives, you are helping to restore habitat. There are plant nurseries throughout the state that have a large variety of Florida native plants that look just as nice, if not better, than their invasive counterparts. We hope you will join us to learn more about our local ecosystems and how they are being impacted by invasive species. You can find dates, locations, and sign-up information for upcoming Bioblitzes here (link to EcoFlora page), or by emailing

Also a shoutout to last months winners for finding the most Morning Glories: miriinthewild won with 31 glorious finds, followed by elprofer with 7 and hunter196 with 6 morning glories spotted!

Posted on September 02, 2022 03:12 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 3 comments | Leave a comment

August 15, 2022

Crowley Nature Museum Bioblitz Canceled!

We are sorry to say that the Crowley Nature Museum Bioblitz tomorrow the 16th has been canceled! We do still have one more bioblitz this month August the 25th at Beker Wingate Preserve, please sign up below!

Bioblitz Signup Link:

Posted on August 15, 2022 06:03 PM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 02, 2022

Going for Morning Glory! - July-August EcoQuest

The theme for our July-August EcoQuest is Convolvulaceae, otherwise known as the morning glory family! This family of plants has over 1,600 species spread across 59 genera that include trees, shrubs, and herbs as well as the vines that most of us are familiar with. A surprising member of this plant family is the sweet potato, which isn’t very closely related to potatoes, which are in the nightshade family Solanaceae!

A characteristic trait of the Convolvulaceae family is the flower shape; more specifically the corolla. Corolla is the collective name for the petals on a flower. The flowers of this family are funnel-shaped, and most of the individual parts are in multiples of five. Ipomoea is the largest genus in this family and hosts the morning glory species that are a common sight in many gardens and natural areas.

Morning glories can have a massive variety in flower size and color but all have the distinct pentagonal shape. From the five angled dodder vine Cuscuta pentagona on the left, to the beautiful goat's foot morning glory Ipomoea pes carprae in the center, and even the delicate and endangered calcareous morning glory Ipomoea microdactyla all morning glories carry their distinct flower shape.

In Florida alone, there are 43 native species, along with 27 non-native species, in the Convolvulaceae family. These include morning glories, bindweeds, dawnflower, and dodders. Twenty-six of these species have been recorded in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Only four of them are non-native:
Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)
Mile-a-minute vine (Ipomoea cairica)
Bush morning glory (Ipomoea carnea spp. fistulosa)
Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)

Some of our more common native varieties that you may be familiar with include:
Railroad Vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Ocean Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica)
Tievine (Ipomoea-cordatotriloba)

A vibrant ocean blue morning glory, Ipomoea indica exhibiting a variety of leaf structures.

Water spinach is a commonly grown green originating in Asia, and bush morning glory has only been documented in five counties in the state of Florida, one of which is Manatee County. Of our native species, only one is endangered: scrub morning glory (Bonamia grandiflora). This species is endemic to the state and is only found in central Florida. It prefers sandy scrub habitat and can resprout after fires, which it also needs to maintain a suitable habitat. Threats to Bonamia grandiflora are the same ones that threaten many scrub species, including urban development, citrus growing, and reduction of fire ecology and fire regimes in native areas.

Generally speaking, members of this family can be found in many different habitats ranging from inland scrub to coastal sand dunes and wetlands alike. These plants bloom throughout the warmer seasons in Florida, so it’s safe to say you’ll know them when you see them! Some exceptions, like moonflower or scrub morning glory, only bloom at certain times of day, so be sure to check back if they aren’t flowering when you see them.

Beach morning glory, Ipomea imperati in flower after a morning storm.

Upcoming Bioblitzes
If you want to know more about the complexities of Convolvulaceae, please join us on the following dates:

Pinecraft Park (7/21/22):

Duette Preserve (7/27/22):

Crowley Museum (8/16/22):

Beker Wingate Preserve (8/25/22):

If you want to see how glorious your observations have been this month check out the Going for Morning Glory Ecoquest here!

Also a big congratulations to our winners of the Mustard Madness Ecoquest with ceherzog in first followed by crowleymuseumandnaturecenter in second and Stanshebs and ChaseyB tied for fourth!

Posted on July 02, 2022 03:53 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 02, 2022

iNaturalist an Overview of Observations, Identifications and More

Hello everyone! This post will be diving into how to use iNaturalist, make good observations, identify plants, and support the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project! Also don’t forget to sign up for some very cool bioblitzes coming up. Lazy Dollar this Friday June 3rd at 9am is a small advanced level bioblitz and hike on a preserve not available to the public. Wednesday the 15th will be at Anna Maria Beach and is very accessible to the general public.
Both bioblitzes are at 9am and you can sign up here!

For New Users

Observations: The very first thing you want to make sure when you are a new iNaturalist user is to make sure you are taking clear photos of plants from multiple angles. Many plants need several good photos to identify and to be 100% sure of your observation you need: the top and bottom of leaves, stems, fruits and or flowers, trunks, any special features, and the habit or where the plant is growing. Then you want to upload all your photos of each plant into one single observation of each plant, we do not want each individual photo of each plant as their own observation as it makes it harder to identify and fills the app with duplicates. Finally, you want to identify the plant as best as you can even if you just put “plant” in the ID line. If the plant has no ID it becomes “unknown” and will not show up in many projects. You can use the suggestions to help you get close but be cautious as it is not 100% accurate. Also, common names can be very different so try using the Latin names for positive ID’s!

Oaks need the tops and bottom of the leaves for a positive ID, if you are unsure, you can simply put “Oak” under suggest a species. Left to right we have Quercus myrtifolia, chapmanii, and inopina. All are scrub habitat oaks with similar leaves but subtle differences in the leaf shape, curve, and texture!

Identifications: When identifying your own plants, the suggested feature can be helpful in getting you close but may not be 100% accurate. Always be sure to put something however, and for the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project we automatically include all embryophyta or: vascular plants, liverworts, and mosses so be sure to at least identify it to that level. This includes almost all land plants and mostly excludes algae so if you don’t know anything about what kind of plant it is, simply put vascular plant and we can help you identify it further. Many plants are put into larger families or genuses that have common characteristics. All milkweeds or Asclepias have similar flowers, a great identifying characteristic. If you are helping someone else identify a plant or using the identify feature on our project identify it as closely as you can, if you know if it a milkweed but not what species just put Asclepias in the identification line! Lastly any plant obviously being grown by people, such as a flower in a pot mark cultivated in the bottom of your observation Data Quality Assessment, anything wild in a preserve or a weed in a flower bed is considered wild and no additional marking is needed.

All Asclepias or milkweeds have very complex, five petaled flowers comparable to orchids in their complexity and are an identifying characteristic like this Asclepias lanceolata the fewflower milkweed.

For Experienced Users

Observations: Now that you know how to make good identifiable observations start looking to make your observations more helpful to scientists! On the right-hand side of your observations is the annotations allowing you to mark your plants as flowering, budding, fruiting, or even in some sexually dimorphic plants as male or female! Below that you’ll see which projects your observation is in, all vascular plants, mosses, and liverworts are automatically added to our project even if not research grade. Finally, if you see an animal such as a bee or bird pollinating a plant that is very useful information! You can add observation fields to plants and insect observations under observation fields. For instance if you see a butterfly visiting a flower, go to Interaction --> Visited Flower of and input the species it visited! There are hundreds of different fields so feel free to explore different types.

Plant insect interactions is a massive and important field of science, such as pest control, pollination, herbivory, and more. The kinds of pollinators are also far more than just butterflies and hummingbirds like this Bee Flower Scarab, a beetle that pollinates cactuses and large flowers by swimming in the nectar! What have you seen bugging out on your plants?

Identifications: If you have been using iNaturalist and are more experienced with plants go ahead and start looking for advanced characteristics that may make some species difficult to identify. Liatris species often require several photos of the leaves, flowers, sides of the flower buds, and high detail or the use of a hand lens to see the presence of absence of hairs. When in doubt use a dichotomous key, a specialized guide for identifying plants or animals and many are online or at libraries. If you’re really familiar with a group of plants you can to observations on the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project Page and hit Identify and do either all recently added plants or help others identify certain species by hitting the filter button.

Rhexia species like this Rhexia mariana or Maryland Meadowbeauty require many photos of the flowers, flower buds, stems, and leaves to correctly identify.

Some groups that are found locally that require advanced observation characteristics are listed below!

Poaceae – Grasses need multiple photos of leaves, leaf sheathes around the stem for many identifications with some species only being discerned by the flowers and seeds so bring a handlense!

Ludwigia – Many primroses are actually smaller groundcovers and need close attention to flowers, leaf orientation, flower buds, and leaf orientation to identify.

Sagittaria – Widespread in wetlands these many species all look very different but have one common trait, three white petaled flowers and green to yellow centers.

Polypodiopsida – Ferns are a huge group of very similar plants, focus on the spores under leaves, scales along the fronds, and bases of the fronds or rhizomes.

Quercus – Oaks need the tops and bottoms of leaves to ID, habit is also very helpful as many are only endemic to certain areas.

Shrubbery – Many plants are green leaved bushes! Use the orientation of leaves, leaf shape and size, color, presence of thorns, flowers, areolas or dots on the stems, and even the smell of leaves to help with identification. An example of a locally common confusion is Yaupon holly and Walter's viburnum. Can you tell the difference in the pictures below without any fruits or flowers? Comment which photo on the left or right is which!

We hope this helps everyone become better observers and we want to see everyone out in the next few bioblitzes or simply participating on your own with friends and family!

Posted on June 02, 2022 05:32 PM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 13, 2022

2022 City Nature Challenge Final Results and Winners!

Thank you to the 156 observers and 359 people who participated in this year's City Nature Challenge!

We are pleased to announce the top 10 volunteer observers of the Sarasota-Manatee City Nature Challenge (CNC). Overall, we had 5,934 observations of 1,494 species. This beat out last year's 4,373 observations of 1,184 species by over 1,000 observations and 300 species! The top five most observed species were brown anoles (64), American alligators (39), cabbage palms (37), and a three-way tie for fourth with 36 Virginia creepers, 36 lubber grasshoppers, and 36 white beggar ticks.

The Brown Anole Anolis sagrei was the most observed species in this year's CNC, photo by elprofer.

Our Top Ten list for observations in the Sarasota-Manatee CNC for 2022 are as follows:

  1. crowleymuseumandnaturecenter with an astounding 832 observations of 486 species!
  2. lazynaturalist came in second with 629 observations of 270 species.
  3. elprofer was new to this year's challenge and came in third with 541 observations of 249 species.
  4. ceherzog with 434 observations of 353 species.
  5. joe_cripe with 370 observations of 166 species.
  6. yukonfl with 364 observations of 252 species.
  7. phaynes with 224 observations of 172 species.
  8. miriinthewild with 211 observations of 137 species.
  9. Carol418 with 204 observations of 125 species.
  10. sandrae34242 with 161 observations of 137 species.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens the sponsors of our local Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project and of our CNC 2022 entry specialize in orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, and epiphytes. Pictured here by this years winner crowleymuseumandnaturecenter is an uncommon ground orchid native to Florida, Spring Ladies' Tresses Spiranthes vernalis.

A special thanks to our top identifiers with over 1,000 ID's, including Jayhorn, hunter196, and coolcrittersyt as our top three.

The rarest plant found during CNC 2022 was Xyris stenotera flowering here, photo by Damonmoore.

We also noted 284 observations of 58 species of federally or state listed threatened plants and animals, with the American alligator being the most common animal at 39 observations and the giant airplant the most common plant with 19. Some of the rarest observations include Xyris stenotera, the West Indian manatee or Trichechus manatus, and the piping plover or Charadrius melodus and more all at one observation. Some threatened species seen in larger numbers include the less common cardinal airplant Tillandsia fasciculata with 11 observations and the gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus at 17 observations! Other fun facts include great blue herons as the most observed bird at 27 observations, Caesar weed the most spotted invasive at 26 observations, and the most popular post was of a group of baby Io moths hatching on a white mangrove leaf. The 2022 CNC also helped support our year-round Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project with 3,783 plant observations of 904 species.

An amazing shot of the adorable Piping Plover Charadrius melodus by gloriamarkiewicz during CNC 2022.

Thank you all for participating this year. We will reach out to the winners about how to collect their prizes, and we hope to see you out regularly at our Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project hikes year-round!

Posted on May 13, 2022 08:17 PM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 10, 2022

May 10th Bioblitz Rescheduled

Hello EcoFlora Participants,

Due to a quick turnaround and lack of signups for tomorrow's bioblitz for Rocky Ford May 10th at 9AM Bioblitz is rescheduled we are rescheduling it to May 23rd to allow for more time for everyone to get there. Below is the updated bioblitzes for the May and June time period.

Upcoming Bioblitzes UPDATED
May 23rd - 9am - 12pm Rocky Ford 4000 Knight’s Trail Rd. Nokomis, FL 34275
May 27th - 9am - 12pm Robinson Preserve 1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209
June 3rd - 9am - 12pm Lazy Dollar 4000 Knight’s Trail Rd. Nokomis, FL 34275
June 15th - 9am - 12pm Anna Maria Island 316 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216

Please email or call if you need anything or have any questions and thank you for your patience!

Sign up for bioblitzes at the Selby Gardens Website

Sean Patton

EcoFlora Coordinator

Posted on May 10, 2022 12:33 AM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 06, 2022

Mustard Madness – May & June 2022 Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora EcoQuest

Most of us are familiar with the sight and taste of cabbage, broccoli, kale, radishes, turnips, and mustards on our dinner plates, but did you know that these vegetables–collectively known as cruciferous vegetables–are all related? These plants are members of the Brassicaceae family, which is comprised of approximately 4,060 different species. Many of them have been cultivated for agricultural purposes and are staple foods in diets across the world. All members of the Brassicaceae family are characterized by cruciform (“cross shaped”) flowers that are usually yellow or white. Hence the name cruciferous!

Spotted by Chaseyb this Jointed Charlock exemplifies the cruciform or cross shaped flowers.

This month’s EcoQuest will focus on members of the mustard family that grow in our own backyards, some of which are also edible! There are six native mustard species that have been documented via preserved specimen collections in Sarasota and Manatee counties:

Coastal searocket (Cakile lanceolata)

Pennsylvania bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica)

Western tansymustard (Descurainia pinnata)

Virginia pepperweed (Lepidium virginicum)

Florida watercress (Nasturtium floridanum)

Southern marsh yellowcress (Rorippa teres)

These species inhabit a variety of habitats. Coastal searocket can be found in coastal dunes while Florida watercress grows in springs and swamps. Florida watercress is our only endemic mustard species, meaning that it is both native and only found in Florida!

Our native mustards inhabit a variety of habitats. Coastal searocket, for example, grows in coastal dune ecosystems, while Florida watercress grows in spring and swamp ecosystems. Florida watercress is also our only endemic mustard species, meaning that it is not only native to Florida but is only found in Florida.

The Coastal Searocket is a beautiful albeit uncommon native to many of our barrier islands in Sarasota and Manatee counties spied by Chaseyb.

One of the most common Florida native Brassicaceae species, Virginia pepperweed, is likely growing in your neighborhood or a disturbed site nearby. Not only is Lepidium virginicum edible to humans, it is also a host plant for both the checkered white butterfly (Pontia protodice) and the great southern white butterfly (Ascia monuste).

There are five non-native species that have been documented in the two counties as well:

India mustard (Brassica juncea)

Lesser swinecress (Lepidium didymum)

European watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)

Charlock mustard (Sinapsis arvensis)

All non-native species that have been introduced to Florida ecosystems are edible! Most have been grown as agricultural crops, so it is likely that they originally spread by escaping from cultivation. European watercress is specifically grown as a crop in Florida to supplement the supply for other states who cannot grow it during the winter months.

Please join us for the bioblitzes listed below as we forage for our local mustard species! Have your weeds and eat them too!

Upcoming Bioblitzes
May 10th - 9am - 12pm Rocky Ford 4000 Knight’s Trail Rd. Nokomis, FL 34275
June 3rd - 9am - 12pm Lazy Dollar 4000 Knight’s Trail Rd. Nokomis, FL 34275
June 15th - 9am - 12pm Anna Maria Island 316 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216
May 27th - 9am - 12pm Robinson Preserve 1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209

Also if you have not uploaded your City Nature Challenge observations of anything during April 29th to May 2nd please do so before May 9th where the final numbers will be submitted and winners announced!

You can learn more by going to or emailing us at or asking below!

Posted on May 06, 2022 07:41 PM by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment