Living Shoreline Monitoring: How do I evaluate the environmental benefits of my living shoreline?

A living shoreline including elements such as sills of materials made to recruit oysters. Credit: Mark Clark, UF/IFAS

Living shorelines are structures made of natural materials such as oyster shell, sand, mangroves, salt marsh plants, and other organic materials built to protect properties from erosion. In addition to increasing shoreline stability, living shorelines enhance many valuable ecosystem functions. In this new 11-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, we provide homeowners, land managers, and Extension agents materials lists, protocols, and data sheets for measuring change in ecosystem function. Measuring and interpreting these measurements will help evaluate living shorelines projects as well as provide the foundation for monetarizing the value of these structures. Written by Laura K. Reynolds, Natalie C. Stephens, Savanna C. Barry, and Ashley R. Smyth.

Bird’s Nest Fungi: Charismatic Mushrooms in Your Garden

Cyathus pallidus showing both mature and immature fruiting bodies (MES-3576). Gainesville, Florida. Credit: Matthew E. Smith, UF/IFAS

The “bird’s nest” fungi (Nidulariaceae) are charismatic mushrooms that look like small nests containing multiple tiny eggs. Because the ecological role of bird’s nest fungi is to decompose wood, they are extremely common in disturbed areas with plant debris and mulch, such as trails and backyard gardens. These fungi tend to grow in large clusters, so it is common to see ten to a hundred of these “nests” at once. Bird’s nest fungi are not considered dangerous to plants, animals, or humans. This new 3-page publication of the UF/IFAS Plant Pathology Department was written by Nattapol Kraisitudomsook and Matthew E. Smith.

Key Plant, Key Pests: Oak (Quercus spp.)

An oak tree in a pasture. Credits: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS

This series of Key Plant, Key Pests publications is designed for Florida gardeners, horticulturalists, and landscape professionals to help identify common pests associated with common Florida flora. This new 9-page publication provides information and general management recommendations for borers, caterpillars, insect-induced galls, twig girdlers, oak leaf blister, root and butt rot, Tubakia leaf spot, mistletoe, psocids, lace bugs, woolly aphids, powdery mildew, Spanish and ball moss, and lichens. Written by Juanita Popenoe, Caroline R. Warwick, Adam G. Dale, and Alfred Huo, and published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department.

Blackberry and Dewberry: Biology and Control

Dewberry has a trailing or vine-like growth pattern.

Blackberry and dewberry are often viewed as nuisance weeds that reduce grazing in a portion of the pasture. However, severe financial losses can occur if these growing thickets injure cattle. This 4-page document provides information regarding blackberry and dewberry management in pastures. Written by Brent Sellers, Pratap Devkota, and Jason Ferrell, and published by the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department, revised November 2020.

¿Perdidos en la maleza? Una guia exhaustiva de malas hierbas no autoctonas en Florida

Air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) invasion in south Florida (Broward County). Air potato is on the Florida Noxious Weed List. FDACS DPI oversees and enforces this list.

Este artículo tiene como objetivo informar al público en general, administradores de tierras, investigadores, autoridades locales y estatales, y a todo aquel que busque orientación para acceder a listados de plantas no autóctonas en el estado de Florida, tanto normativos como no normativos. En este documento se explica el origen de las listas, el significado de la inclusión en una lista en concreto y la forma de acceder a cada una de ellas. Written by Deah Lieurance, Lyn A. Gettys, and Germán Sandoya-Miranda, and published by the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department, November 2020.

Programacion de Riego Basado en el Metodo de Evapotranspiracion Para Papaya (Carica papaya) en Florida

Fruiting papaya trees at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, FL. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright

La papaya es un importante cultivo frutícola que se cultiva en el sur de Florida con un área estimada de 356 acres. Este documento se centra en las técnicas de programación de riego basadas en ET para la papaya en las condiciones de Florida. Written by Haimanote K. Bayabil, Jonathan H. Crane, Kati W. Migliaccio, Yuncong Li, Fredy Ballen, and Sandra Guzmán, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, November 2020.

Eastern Indigo Snake

Photo of snake's head viewed from above, grass visible under it.

Learn more about eastern indigo snakes!
The Wildlife of Florida Factsheet series was created to provide the public with a quick, accurate introduction to Florida's wildlife, including both native and invasive species. Authors Tyler Buckley and Raoul K. Boughton hope this 2-page quick guide and others in the series published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation will inspire readers to investigate wildlife in their own backyards and communities and understand the amazing biodiversity of wildlife in the state of Florida.

Smutgrass Control in Perennial Grass Pastures

Smutgrass infestations are common in bahiagrass pastures throughout Florida.

This 4-page document provides an overview of smutgrass biology, control, and general recommendations. Written by Brent Sellers, Neha Rana, José Luiz C. S. Dias, and Pratap Devkota, and published by the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department, revised October 2020.

How Are Our Future Agriculture and Natural Resources Projected under Varying Climate?

Storm rising over a farm.

This 8-page article explains how agriculture and natural resources may respond to projected future climate and how climate projections can be useful in developing management plans for the improved sustainability of Florida's agriculture and natural resources. It also aims to help increase the public awareness of climate change impacts on Florida and improve understanding of the connections among climate, agriculture, and natural resources. Written by Young Gu Her, Ashley Smyth, Zachary Brym, and Elias Bassil, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, September 2020.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus species complex)

Mature fruiting bodies of Laetiporus sulphureus species complex. Gainesville, Florida. Credits: Curtis Peyer

Species in the Laetiporus sulphureus species complex, also known as “chicken of the woods” mushrooms, are wood-decay fungi that cause brown rot within the heartwood of their tree hosts. The common name “chicken of the woods” is given to some species in this group because they are tasty edible mushrooms. Several Laetiporus species have been harvested to use as food colorants, to dye natural products such as wool, and for human consumption. This new 4-page publication of the UF/IFAS Plant Pathology Department, written by Brianna Benitez, Claudia A. Paez, Matthew E. Smith, and Jason A. Smith, describes these fungi as well as their ecology, management, and potential edibility.

A Beginner’s Guide to Water Management—Common Aquatic Birds Using Florida Lakes

Green-backed heron.

Florida LAKEWATCH is a citizen scientist program that monitors Florida's lakes. Since it was established in 1991, Florida LAKEWATCH has worked with thousands of volunteers to collect water quality data on more than 2,700 aquatic systems in Florida. It is the most comprehensive and longest-running water quality data source in the United States, if not the world. This 18-page circular written by Mark V. Hoyer and published by the UF/IFAS Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation describes Florida LAKEWATCH's volunteer aquatic bird-monitoring program. Citizen volunteers can provide a comprehensive and intimate understanding of birds and their interactions with Florida lake systems, helping to detect the changes in the types and numbers of birds using lakes that may indicate important natural or human-caused environmental trends. Whether you want to identify birds you’ve spotted or take an active role in the management and conservation of Florida's natural resources, this circular can help you learn the basics.

The American Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus)

A photo of a horseshoe crab on the beach partially covered by a shallow wave with seaweed around it and clinging to it and sunshine gleaming on its shell.

American horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) look prehistoric and in fact really have not changed very much in the 200 million years they have been around. This 3-page fact sheet written by Savanna Barry, Holly Abeels, and Shelly Krueger and published by the UF/IFAS Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Conservation tells the story of these interesting and valuable “living fossils,” including their importance both to ecology and human medicine. It provides tips on how to find horseshoe crabs and a few ways you can help them.

Peters’s Rock Agama in Florida

A photo of a male Peters's rock agama on a low brick wall showing to good effect its orange head and tail and charcoal-colored midsection, all set off nicely by the orange bricks and green artificial turf in the foreground.

Florida has experienced more introductions of nonnative reptiles than any other region on Earth. Approximately three times as many species of established, nonnative lizards live in the state as do native species. This 5-page fact sheet written by Kenneth T. Gioeli and Steve A. Johnson and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides background information about the visually striking Peters's rock agama, including information about its introduction to Florida, as well as its biology, conservation issues, and management recommendations.

Urban Tree Selection for Diversity

Urban forestry, parks and planning in Tampa Bay, Florida. Image used in the 2015 UF/IFAS Extension Calendar.  Photo Credits:  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Urban tree diversity is important when attempting to create a healthy, beneficial, and resilient urban forest. Having a variety of trees can increase the aesthetic value for residents and create habitats for plants and animals. Some common street trees currently in the landscape are not site-appropriate and create infrastructure damage. By planting different types of trees in these locations, maintenance costs and infrastructure damage can be reduced and tree longevity increased. This new 4-page fact sheet is intended to provide urban foresters, arborists, landscape designers, and others in charge of tree planting with a process for introducing new species into the urban environment. Written by Deborah R. Hilbert, Andrew K. Koeser, and Robert J. Northrop, and published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department.

Distribution, Identification and Management of Two-Leaf Nightshade (Solanum diphyllum), an Invasive Plant in Florida

Arrangement of fruits on fruiting stem with exposed calyces where fruits have detached. Credits: Stephen H. Brown, UF/IFAS

Two-leaf nightshade, Solanum diphyllum, is a member of the Solanaceae or potato family. It is native to Mexico southwards to Costa Rica. It has escaped cultivation in Florida and grows as far north as Duval County and from Volusia County south to Miami-Dade County. A “bird-dispersed” volunteer, it occurs in urban and conservation areas and on disturbed land. The plants produce abundant berries with many many small seeds. This new 5-page publication of the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department is primarily intended for Florida gardeners, landscapers, and land managers, and it contains information on identification, flowering, fruiting, and management recommendations for this widely occurring plant. Written by Stephen H. Brown, Chris Marble, and Stephen F. Enloe.

Railroad Vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae): Identification and Uses

Five rose-purple markings radiate from the throats up the center of each of the fused petals. Credits: Stephen H. Brown, UF/IFAS

Railroad vine is one of the most widely distributed beach plants in the world. The moving sand and salt spray make the beach environment a harsh one, and the plants that live there are specialized to colonize this environment. This new 7-page document, published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department, describes railroad vine’s leaves, flowers, fruit, planting and maintenance, and insect and disease problems. Written by Stephen H. Brown and Marc S. Frank.

Are consumers knowledgeable about neonicotinoid insecticides and pollinator-friendly plants?

Butterfly visits a coneflower. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

What does the general public know about neonicotinoids used in ornamental horticulture and their effects on pollinators? The question is an important one given that home landscapes serve as pollinator habitat and can impact pollinator health. This 5-page fact sheet written by Hayk Khachatryan, Xuan Wei, and Alicia Rihn and published by the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department summarizes a survey addressing consumer knowledge about neonicotinoids and pollinator plants, as well as their interest in enhancing pollinator health. The survey is part of a larger research project aimed at incorporating pollinator conservation into the ornamental horticulture industry's sustainability initiatives.

Biology and Management of Garden Spurge (Euphorbia hirta) in Ornamental Crop Production

Young garden spurge seedlings, approximately 2 weeks after germination.

Garden spurge is a prostrate, herbaceous, short-lived, warm-season annual weed commonly found in Florida landscapes, container nurseries, and other agricultural production areas. This 5-page article is written to aid green industry professionals and others in the identification and management of garden spurge in and around ornamental plants. Written by Thomas Smith, Chris Marble, Shawn Steed, and Nathan Boyd, and published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department, July 2020.

Pondweeds of Florida

Claspingleaf pondweed, Potamogeton perfoliatus. Credits: Jess Van Dyke, UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

This new 9-page factsheet describes the defining characteristics of the eleven pondweed species that are present in Florida. It serves as a pondweed identification guide for aquatic habitat managers, lake monitors, conservationists, and plant enthusiasts, and it gives some context on each species’ life history and ecological role. Written by Christine Rohal, Laura Reynolds, Carrie Reinhardt Adams, and Charles Martin, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.

Mite Pests of Southern Highbush Blueberry in Florida

Southern red mite shed skins.

This 4-page document discusses life cycles, damage, monitoring, and management of southern red mites and false spider mites in southern highbush blueberries. Written by Oscar E. Liburd, Lorena Lopez, and Doug Phillips, and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department, June 2020.