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

January 10, 2022

iNaturalist Year in Review and the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thank you all so much for helping support the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project! This is a roundup of how we faired this year and improved over previous years. Please enjoy these fun stats, our top contributors, and make sure to come out to Old Miakka this Wednesday Jan 12th, 9am-12noon for our first bioblitz of 2022! For those of you curious as to how the world is using iNaturalist check out the iNaturalist Year in Review and be proud of how much we contributed to the truly global effort!

Photo of the Little Manatee River South Fork bioblitz in Manatee County.

Top 5 Observers during 2021

  1. Chaseyb 3,724 observations of 812 species!
  2. Sean Patton (Sarasota Manatee Coordinator) 1,501 observations of 573 species!
  3. ceherzog 1,210 observations of 550 species!
  4. damonmoore 975 observations of 474 species!
  5. lazynaturalist 956 observations of 277 species!

Top 5 Identifiers during 2021

  1. jayhorn with 5,174 identified species!
  2. Bruceholst (Vice President Botany at Selby) with 1,679 identified species!
  3. jeff1962 with 1,122 identified species!
  4. aliandbrice with 573 identified species!
  5. Sean Patton (Sarasota Manatee Coordinator) with 468 identified species!

Wow those observations and records were all this year! Let's take a look at the stats:
2021 Observations - 18,139 Species - 1,564
Total Observations - 29,000 Species - 1,786

62.5% of all observations since the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project in 2019 began were from this year. of the 1,786 species we have observed in the project 87.6% of them were also observed during 2021 showing we have a high rate of continually observing even rare species.

Florida Goldenaster a state listed endangered species found during our Asters All Around Ecoquest being pollinated by a queen butterfly.

How has the project grown and contributed to the local scientific and environmental community? Let's look at some stats and highlights below!
2021 Observers - 166 Identifiers - 548 Members Joining in 2021 - 135
Total Observers - 194 Identifiers - 809 Current Members - 267

Wow we doubled the number of people who have joined the project and have added 32 more regular observers than last year with 261 people now contributing identification help from all over the world! We had 14 bioblitzes with local county, and state parks with over one hundred people attending throughout the year. Over 80 species have been added to local records through our plant vouchers helping to increase the depth of our local plant knowledge. We also participated in over 10 events at schools, parks, environmental groups, and community centers presenting on the project and look forward to being at many more in the future!

Anastasia one of the members of the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Team posing with the rare and beautiful Pine Lily. As part of the education department at Selby she helps connect the Ecoflora team with local schools and education programs helping anyone become a citizen scientist. If you think your school or community group might be interested contact us at and we can train you in the art of citizen science and backyard botany!

If you have enjoyed the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project, our bioblitzes, and learning about our local plants and ecosystems the best way to help is to participate with your family and friends! Come out to our events, join the project page and help encourage others to come out and participate in our free community science program. We can present to your schools, community, and engage with you to help preserve and become citizen scientists in Sarasota and Manatee.

Thank you all for participating and we hope to see you out there!

Posted on January 10, 2022 22:51 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 03, 2022

Finding Ferns Ecoquest and Upcoming Bioblitzes

The Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora project is kicking off the 2022 New Year with our next EcoQuest, Finding Ferns! Ferns are one of the most diverse groups of vascular plants and there are over 160 different species recorded in Florida. This ecoquest will cover a wide variety of genuses in the Class of ferns Polypodiopsida, ranging from the giant leather ferns, floating aquatic ferns, and even on trees as epiphytes. With their wide range of sizes and shapes the best ways to identify them are to photograph the tops of the leaves, habitat, spores on the underside of leaves, and the rhizomes or roots if showing. While ferns are found in a huge variety of Florida habitats they are most common in shady moist ecosystems like old growth forests or swamps.

Water Spangles or Salvinia minima is an aquatic invasive species in the fern class.

This EcoQuest will take place during January and February. We hope to observe as many local ferns as possible and assist citizen scientists in identifying fern species and exploring fern diversity in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Toothed Midsorus Fern known as Telmatoblechnum serrulatum is a common fern in shaded wetlands in Florida easily identified by the spore pattern on the underside of the leaf.

If you would like to volunteer and contribute the EcoFlora project and citizen science please email The date for our next BioBlitz is January 12th 9am-12pm at the Old Miakka Preserve, where 20 species of ferns have been recorded. February 9th at Lemon Bay Park will be the next bioblitz following that. Registration for this event will be live on our website or by emailing

Posted on January 03, 2022 18:33 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 14, 2021

EcoFlora Community Survey Closes Tomorrow December 15th

If you have not done so and have been actively participating in the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project please take a moment to fill out our EcoFlora Community Survey and let us know how we can better help you become citizen botanists!

A Coastalplain Chaffhead found from a recent ecoquest on Asters All Around!

Happy plant finding and we hope to see you out at our monthly bioblitzes!

Posted on December 14, 2021 20:15 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 13, 2021

Updates and December 14th Bioblitz to Jelks Preserve

Hello Everyone,

We hope that those of you following this will check in regularly at the Text to display on link Selby Website for our monthly bioblitzes with the next one being December 14th at Jelks Preserve in Sarasota 2300 State Road 777, Venice, FL 34292 at the north entrance parking lot.

Also please keep enjoying our November and December Ecoquest Till Tally Two focusing on airplants native to Florida and is part of our ongoing project supporting the Epiflora of the United States and Canada and the Mexican Bromeliad Weevil Project where invasive weevils threaten our native tillandsia species.

This is Tillandsia fasciculata the Cardinal Airplant one of the showiest and largest airplants native to Florida.

We hope to see everyone out there!

Posted on December 13, 2021 17:52 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 06, 2021

October Ecoquests Update

Hello Everyone,

Hope everyone is having fun finding Asters All Around, we have finalized this month's bioblitz dates. These bioblitzes are open to the public and free so please invite your friends and family to participate.

October 27th 2021 we will have the Curry Creek Bioblitz from 9AM-12Noon.

October 29th 2021 we will have the Little Manatee River South Fork Tract from 9AM-12Noon.

Image of Scrub Hairstreak nectaring on Faey's Palafox a highlight from this month's Aster's All Around Ecoquest, showcasing how native pollinators rely on local aster diversity.

Anyone wishing to participate should do so by signing up on the EcoFlora Page of Selby's Website!

Hope to see everyone out and keep on finding new and wonderful Florida Flora,
Sean Patton

Posted on October 06, 2021 01:16 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 02, 2021

Asters All Around - September and October Ecoquest

The aster, or sunflower family (Asteraceae), is among the largest flowering plant families, with more than 1,620 genera and over 23,600 species . Most species are annual, biennial, or perennial plants with a widespread worldwide distribution from subpolar to tropical regions. These plants have a prominent place in our daily lives as the family includes many economically important crops (such as sunflowers, safflowers, artichokes, lettuce, and endive), herbs and medicinal varieties (such as calendula, chamomile, echinacea, and tarragon), as well as beautiful ornamentals such as aster, chrysanthemum, cosmos, dahlia, gerbera, marigold, and zinnia.

Asters include a wide variety of native flowers pictured here is a Camphorweed Heterotheca subaxillaris one of the most common asters in North America and in Sarasota.

To learn more on Asters and to keep track of how many asters you have found please visit our Asters All Around Ecoquest here!

For our September and October EcoQuest we will be observing asters all around us! So far we’ve found 200 species of aster in Sarasota and Manatee Counties and look forward to observing more with your help. Please stay tuned for information on our upcoming BioBlitzes here!

Asters come in all shapes and colors such as this Bristle Thistle Cirsium horridulum.

Posted on September 02, 2021 04:00 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 27, 2021

Gazing at Glassworts - August Ecoquest

Inspired by the glass show currently on display at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, In Dialogue with Nature: Glass in the Gardens, we are highlighting Salicornia, a genus of plants also known as glassworts, pickleweed, samphire, and saltwort, for our EcoQuest in August 2021. Salicornia are small halophytic species in the Amaranthaceae family. These plants are found along the beaches, salt marshes, and mangrove ecosystems of North America, Europe, South Africa, and South Asia. These small annual or perennial herbs grow prostrate or erect with simple hairless and, succulent, stems that appear jointed. Their stems vary from red to green and their leaves are reduced to small fleshy scales. Flowers are small, complex, and bisexual. They produce small fleshy fruits with a single seed.

There are a variety of uses for glassworts, including glassmaking! The ashes of the dried, burnt plants contain copious amounts of potash and soda ash and were historically used to manufacture glass and soap. In addition, this salty plant is eaten raw, pickled, or cooked; the seeds are used to make oil; and the plant is used as a biofilter for marine effluent.

There are about 30 species of Salicornia and the two native species that are found in Sarasota and Manatee Counties are Salicornia ambigua and S. bigelovii. If you are interested in seeing this unique species and would like to observe it in its natural habitats, please join our upcoming BioBlitz at Terra Ceia State Park on August 27th by registering with the event link below or go on your own hunt and share your findings through the iNaturalist project site. While you are out there, please photograph other salt march species as well. Happy glass gazing!

August BioBlitz Registration:
This hike will tentatively be 3 miles from 8AM to 11AM so be prepared!

Posted on July 27, 2021 14:25 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 01, 2021

July 2021 Ecoquest - Just Dune it!

This month at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens we are opening We Dream a World: African American Landscape Painters of Mid-Century Florida, The Highwaymen. The artists featured in the exhibition capture Florida’s vibrant landscape in paint. Many of the works showcase Florida’s coast with crashing waves on wind swept beaches. For this month’s EcoQuest, Just Dune It, we are taking inspiration from these paintings to observe coastal elements and pay special attention to the grasses that help sustain Florida’s coastline. Coastal dunes are Florida’s first line of defense against storms and sea level rise: absorbing wave and wind energy and reducing damage to upland habitat and structures located on our beloved shoreline. Beaches are an integral part of Florida’s economy, supporting a diverse mix of attractions that fuel the region’s tourism and infrastructure. But, most importantly, they are crucial to the protection of marine and coastal ecology, providing essential habitat and food for many species of wildlife.

Coastal grasses can be credited as the biological engineers of our coastal dune ecology. They stabilize by effectively trapping sand in their rhizomatous roots, anchoring the dune in place. In order to thrive in such conditions, dune grasses must be tolerant of sand-blasting winds, drought, heat, low nutrients, salt-spray, and salt-water flooding.

Dunes have three general vegetation zones that are determined by soil salinity. Grasses are commonly found in the frontal zone, landward of the highest tides. The back dune zone, or scrub zone, supports less salt tolerant grasses as well as shrubs and some trees. The forest zone is farthest from the ocean, where the vegetation transitions from maritime to non-maritime species. These zones can and do integrate, resulting in a diverse combination of zones based on environmental and mechanical interference.

There are a number of native grasses on Sarasota and Manatee County beaches that play a role in shoreline erosion control. This month's bioblitz will be at Lido Beach at 8AM-11AM on July 23rd please RSVP by emailing Some species that we will be highlighting in our July 2020 EcoQuest include:

Distichlis spicata - Saltgrass

Muhlenbergia capillaris – Muhly grass

Panicum amarum - Bitter panicgrass

Paspalum vaginatum – Seashore paspalum

Schizachyrium spp. – Sea coast bluestem

Spartina patens - Cordgrass

Uniola paniculalta - Sea oats

Please note that sand dunes are highly protected, and the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act (Chapter 161, Florida Statues) was established to preserve our coastline. Walking on dunes can lead to a citation in some areas, so please remember to make responsible observations and follow designated trails when visiting the dunes – and ask others to do the same.

Posted on July 01, 2021 18:34 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 28, 2021

Water Lily Pollination

As part of our ongoing Leaping into Lilies Ecoquest we wanted to do a highlight of how these beautiful flowers actually be pollinated. Also get ready for next month's ecoquest Just Dune It focusing on dune ecosystems next month!

Water Lilies in the Nymphaea genus have an unusual and somewhat exploitive strategy for pollination!. During the first day the flowers are open, only the cup-like stigmatic surface of the gynoecium or female organ is receptive. This stigmatic cup is filled with sweet and sticky liquid, attracting insects carrying pollen from other plants. Insects drawn by the liquid fall in and drop off their pollen with an unexpected bath before hopefully escaping. The pollen then dissolves and fertilizes the flower. To help encourage this process of insects falling into the liquid the inner stamens around the bowl are often flexible and thin, bending under the insects’ weight and dropping them into the sticky pool. Most insects may survive, but enough are caught and drown to make visiting these flowers hazardous!

Nymphaea odorata, the Fragrant Water Lily with the stigmatic cup visible waiting for an unsuspecting insect or pollinator.

The flowers close in the evening in most species except night blooming lilies like Nymphaea jamesoniana which does the reverse. After the first day the stigma is no longer receptive and the stamen or male organs, are mature and releasing pollen onto visiting insects without any dangerous water hazards. After the pollen has been released and the stigma fertilized the flower is pulled underwater on a spring like stem. By developing underwater the seeds are more protected from herbivores, closer to the substrate and kept moist when released. Like many plants in this month’s Ecoquest, Leapin Into Lilies, there are a variety of seeds and flower types but almost all water lilies and water lily like plants have seeds with air pockets between the seed and an aril coating. This helps the seed float on the water in a process called hydrochory. Many birds and mammals enjoy eating the aril but not the seed helping spread them further by edozoochory. To survive extreme aquatic environments many seeds have thick seed coats that protect the aril that can help them survive years or even centuries out of water waiting for the right water and scarification to occur to let the plant begin this cycle anew. Often times in captivity to puncture the seed coat pliers, sandpaper, or even drills are used to help allow water in.

Written by Sean Patton and Elizabeth Gandy

Posted on June 28, 2021 13:48 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 11, 2021

City Nature Challenge Local Winners and Wrap Up!

We have tallied up the winners for the City Nature Challenge 2021 in Sarasota and Manatee Counties below! We are also proud to say we have come in 3rd place in Florida with 4,333 observations, of over 1,175 species and helped support numerous projects including our EpiFlora of the US and Canada. The Alachua County and South Florida projects were ahead in the 10,000 observation level and neck and neck with Alachua winning by 100 observations. We had 153 observers and 273 identifiers support this achievement and we are very proud of everyone. If you have any photos you would like to show off please submit the observation link to ecoflora@selby so we can spotlight them on the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Page!

The top six observers and three identifiers have won some prizes ranging from Selby membership to native plant pots including species seen during the challenge. Future ecoquests and CNC's will also offer prizes from time to time so stay tuned at the Sarasota Manatee EcoFlora Project for details! Selby Staff who participated are not eligible for prizes but for the joy of winning against other staff members.

The winners are:

crowleynaturecenter with 598 observations and 297 species!
lazynaturalist with 555 observations and 224 species!
ceherzog with 227 observations and 193 species!
Sandrae34242 with 160 observations and 119 species!
carol418 with 160 observations and 102 species!
jwilli with 112 observations and 56 species!

jayhorn with 270 identified observations!
aliandbrice with 248 identified observations!
antoniw with 104 identified observations!

Thanks for participating everyone! We will see you again next year!

Photo from Z7nikon of a Dutchman's Pipevine.

Posted on May 11, 2021 04:19 by sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean | 3 comments | Leave a comment