Dade Native Plant Workshop

Enthusiastic folks who wish to learn how to identify South Florida's wild plants

Dade Native Plant Workshop History (in brief)

Written and posted on January 23, 2010 by Steven Woodmansee

The Dade Native Plant Workshop (then known simply as the Native Plant Workshop) was started in the 1950's by Fran Young of Miami-Dade's Camp Owaissa Bauer Park. Over time other enthusiasts would join including noted botanists and naturalists such as Frank Craighead, George Avery, Mary Ann Bolla, Don & Joyce Gann, John Popenoe, Roger Hammer, Bob Knight, Marty Roessler, Don Keller, David Black, Sally Braem, Alan Herndon, George Gann, Keith Bradley, and too many others to mention! Some of the current participants have continued to meet since its inception! The Dade Native Plant Workshop (DNPW) has long been a resource for aspiring, amateur and professional field botanists who share a desire to learn, or pass on their knowledge, of South Florida's local flora.

Meetings eventually were moved from the nature center at Camp Owaissa Bauer, to Redland Fruit & Spice Park, and then Castellow Hammock Park. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew swept across Miami, and for the first time in its history, regular meetings were postponed. By 1993 or 1994, meetings were begun again, finally finding home at Bill Sadowski Park. In 2008, meetings were held at the Deering Estate at Cutler, but in 2009 the long history of Miami-Dade County park sponsorship ended and the venue was moved due to lack of appropriate facilities and current park interest to Miami Dade College Kendall Campus's Landscape & Technology Nursery where it currently resides.

In the past, monthly field trips were a component of the DNPW, which have now been absorbed in the early 1980's by the newly formed Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. In fact, many of the original people who formed this chapter, and it's parent state organization, The Florida Native Plant Society, were dedicated participants of the DNPW.

However, the DNPW has no affiliation with any of the native plant society groups. It is unique in sustaining its longevity despite not having dues, or elected leaders, but this loose posse of dedicated members and participants, a meeting place and a Chairperson to open the door. However, in the past participants couldn't get through the door unless they brought at least three plants to discuss during the meeting. Topics are selected and can be a plant genus or family, or a habitat, or some other grouping manner such as "plants with cordate leaves", or "edible natives". Topics are selected by participants from the previous meeting. Being a workshop, it is supposed to be a group effort, and participants are encouraged to prepare beforehand. It is here where participants with more experience share their knowledge, often providing information that isn't published or accessible anywhere else.

A recent addition to the DNPW is an annual Holiday Party at December's meeting, which has been ongoing since around 2002.

An article formerly published in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's Bulletin in 1975 was uncovered by DNPW participant Mark Bolla, and may be read at the below link.

NativePlantWorkshop1975Jan.pdf


There is likely much history left out, as I have only been attending meetings post Hurricane Andrew, and have functionally been chair since 2000 Over time, I plan on uploading photos from previous meetings, and encourage any of you "old timers" to post your own photos on this website.

Update April 18, 2022

The Dade Native Plant Workshop took a hiatus in March 2020 due to Covid-19, a virus for which caused severe illness and death in many.  Starting in January 2021, in an effort to continue, Dade Native Plant Field Trips were started in lieu of meeting in person at a building.  Many still attended, as field trips were an excellent opportunity to "get out of the house" in a safe and wholesome manner.  The Dade Native Plant Workshop meetings resumed in person at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus on October 19, 2021, where it continues.

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Comment by Karina Michelle Gomez on January 13, 2024 at 11:04am

Thanks for sharing this information on the history of DNPW! As a newbie, I'm very excited to continue supporting and participating in these workshops!

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