David Drylie AFNN Cultivar Committee Chair Memo RE: Current AFNN Cultivar Policy

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Cammie Donaldson

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on: February 13, 2006, 05:56:23 PM
MEMO TO: AFNN Cultivar Committee and Board members
FROM: David Drylie, RLA, Owner- Green Images

Discussion:  Supporting AFNN Directory listing Florida Native Species and all cultivars and varieties, regardless of origin.

Current AFNN policy disallows listing Florida Native Species cultivars and varieties if the origin is not known within the political state boundaries of Florida.

I, David Drylie, RLA, Green Images, find this policy arbitrary and inconsistent with most Florida municipal and county landscape codes.  Further, AFNN’s integrity in supporting member nurseries business interests in a fiercely competitive marketplace is harmed by such a myopic and counter-productive policy.

I propose we reverse current AFNN policy and list ‘all’, Florida Native Species, cultivars and varieties in our annual Directory, as footnoted.  I support my request with the following arguments.

1. Florida Native Species, as defined in the FNPS ‘native plant’ definition, only speaks to the genus and species.  Per the FNPS definition adopted by AFNN, we have every right to list all horticulture cultivars and varieties of Florida Native Species, and remain consistent with FNPS and our AFNN mission statement and policies.

2. Most, ‘urban landscape projects’ do not share, ’plant community restoration’ goals or objectives.  Research supports; a minimum of 40 acres of land is the minimum continuous acreage required to be managed successfully , as late succession native plant community with all the right biological components and densities.  Urban landscape projects must meet difficult horticultural and beautification challenges usually without regard to many biological criteria important to a ‘restoration-type’ project. 

3. Most of my current plant sales are to the emerging and expanding urban landscape market and many of those sold to meet local government landscape code requirements.  Cultivars and varieties of Florida Native Species are critical to my business and my ability to provide for my family.  Like it or not, the urban landscape plant market requires consistency and uniformity in large flowers and shiny leaves, often found only in cultivars and varieties.

4. Landscape Architects, designers, urban foresters and local governments require and request cultivars and varieties.  Their clients require and request cultivars and varieties.  This is the reality of the current, multi- billion dollar horticultural marketplace in Florida.

5. I would guess over 80% of our AFNN member sales are to the urban landscape plant market and those sales are for projects with simple beautification goals.

6. Should AFNN continue to support only esoteric plant community restoration objectives and policies, we will soon lose members and the niche in the urban landscape marketplace we have worked twenty years to capture.

7. I support an AFNN policy or statements encouraging the use of regional seed sources for ‘regional plant community restoration projects’.

8. I support the use of an easy-to-read symbol/footnote on all Directory listings for those Florida Native Species cultivars or varieties whose origin is not known from Florida.  I only support listing out-of-state origin cultivar listings if they are clearly distinguished from Florida origin cultivars.

Example:  Magnolia grandiflora, ‘Little Gem’, is in fact a Florida Native Species and always will be. The ‘Little Gem’ magnolia originated in South Carolina and is widely used and sold in Florida.  I’ll just guess, the ‘Little Gem’ represents $250,000 in annual sales to the urban landscape market. 

Multiple varieties of Ilex vomitoria are not found in our AFNN Directory and yet Ilex vomitoria is one of the best Florida Native Species for urban landscapes.

9.  Between 1985 and 1995, AFNN member sales were dominated by the wetland restoration market.  By 2005, this has dramatically changed with the successful expansion of urban landscape sales.  I ask each of you to evaluate where your bread is buttered.  Also, recognize we have lost members and discourage many new members because we do not currently list out-of-state origin Florida Native Species cultivars.  AFNN is not the FNPS.  AFNN is an association of business owners with native plants and making money to feed our families, as a common interest. 

10.  Our AFNN Directory is circulated at the SNA show in Atlanta each year.  Expanding our Directory listings to include ‘all’ Florida native species cultivars and varieties should increase member sales throughout the Southeast US.

I respectfully request: the AFNN Board of Directors request the full membership vote, to reverse current AFNN policy and list ALL Florida Native Species cultivars and varieties, as footnoted, in our 2006-2007 AFNN Directory.

« Last Edit: February 13, 2006, 06:09:54 PM by Cammie Donaldson »

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 06:14:07 PM
At some point will manipulated cultivars become a detriment to unadulterated natives and cause a genetic "crash"?

Will the traits selected for the cultivar (foliage, flower, color) make the plant less cold hardy, disease or pest resistant. etc. thus making it less desirable in the long run?

Will nurseries differentiate what they sell to landscapers and restorationists when $ are on the line?

Is the homogenous nature of some cultivars actually desirable in the aesthetics of a landscape?

Will the availability of true natives be affected if the mass appeal of cultivars stimulates greed in the industry?

Will the mass appeal of the homogenous cultivars attract Walmart, Lowes, etc. and hurt small native businesses in the long run?

Just playing the devils advocate.

Peter NeSmith

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #2 on: February 20, 2006, 10:04:05 AM
The issue is not whether or not to list cultivars of native plants, the issue is whether to list cultivars of native plant species developed from genetic material found outside of the political boundary of Florida.  We need to be sure to understand what this means. If we were to accept the latter, AFNN would have no choice but to list cultivars of Ilex opaca  from Princeton New Jersey and Wayside Gardens Georgia.  We would have no choice but to list cultivars of Cyrilla racemiflora from Granitville S.C. and potentially as farm flung as the West Indies and Brazil. AFNN would have no choice but to list cultivars of Rubeckia hirta with names like ‘Bambi’ and ‘Double Gloriosa’ from as far away as British Columbia. 

To be sure, any of AFNN member nursery can offer any plant for sale, native to Florida or not. Any AFNN member nursery can advertise those plants in at least half dozen other “plant finder” type market listings. Florida State Law regulates sale of invasive plant species. No other restrictions exist that I know of. No Society or Association can control or restrict the operations of a private business, other than requirements for membership. The AFNN Plant & Service Directory has been the ONLY exclusive listing source for plants native in origin to the political (however arbitrary as that may be) confines of Florida.  That is a very important standard to many in the Environmental Consulting, Florida Environmental Agency, Landscape Architecture, and Landscape fields. It is certainly important to our friends in FNPS.  Do we want to betray that trust?

Respectfully summitted,
William F. Bissett ASLA
The Natives Inc.
Davenport Florida


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Reply #3 on: February 22, 2006, 08:39:51 AM
Peter and Bill:  AFNN is not the one driving this cultivar train.  The marketplace, designers and clients continue to demand bigger flowers, shiny leaves and or uniformity.  Magnolia grandiflora clones, Quercus, Ilex, and technically Pinus clones and hybrids are staples of the urban landscape trade.  These clones are readily accepted by local government for landscape ordinance native plant requirements.  AFNN does not dictate national trends or design styles.  AFNN members offer alternative plant choices for informal and naturalized landscapes, but we can not ignore large market items, out-of-state clones, for arbitrary philosophical reasons.  I do like, limiting listing clones, to those selected from natural populations. This discussion is not about 'greed'!  Believe me I have lost lots of money growing 'new species' for the marketplace, that were never sold and eventually tossed out.  I am growing plants to sell them, that's the way it works.   I am not independently wealthy.  I grow alot of plants on speculation, I only hope to sell. 
AFNN actually looks a little foolish not listing out-of-state native clones, lets give FNGLA that market share?  Footnote them, write a lovely article exclaiming the merits of in-state clones and move on.  David Drylie

Cammie Donaldson

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Reply #4 on: February 23, 2006, 09:16:37 AM
We need to start with clear definitions, use biological facts, not political convenience, and ask the help of experts. To the latter end, I have been in touch with the Forest Service which commissioned the paper referred to by David Drylie. The authors actually wanted to expand on their topic (restoration genetics) to include horticultural outcomes, but their funds were cut off, also prohibiting the printing of the document (it can be seen only as a pdf file). I would like to invite both authors into the discussion, but have not yet done so. Perhaps an official invitation would be best.
The paper is "Genetically appropriate choices for plant materials to maintain biological diversity" 

Deborah L. Rogers  debrogers@ucdavis.edu and Arlee M. Montalvo montalvo@ucr.edu