Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 090215 Contents THE RIVER - SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
Friends Or Foes?
by Gerri Reaves
The appearance of a volunteer in
the landscape calls for a decision.
Sometimes the decision to eliminate a
plant is easy – if it’s listed as a category-1
invasive species, for example. Such plants
have caused “documented ecological
damage,” according to the Florida Exotic
Pest Plant Council.
So there’s no reason to spare a car-
rotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides),
Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifo-
lia), or umbrella tree (Schefflera actino-
phylla) if you spot one in your yard.
The umbrella tree growing just below
the crown of the cabbage palm (Sabal
palmetto) threatens the native tree. The
invader will sends down aerial roots to
establish a ground base and could eventu-
ally envelope and out-compete the host
A more pleasant scenario is when
plants sprout in very unlikely spots where
they can do no harm. It’s worth leaving
them alone out of sheer curiosity and
respect for the seedling’s resourcefulness.
Seeds end up in wall crevices, on
roofs or in other unlikely places by being
deposited in bird dropping, by wind or
water, and other means.
Florida’s state tree is one such master
self-propagator, an admirable or damning
characteristic, depending on the garden-
er’s point of view.
Witness the palm growing in the crack
of a seawall. How did it get there – wave
action or a particularly acrobatic bird?
But even a desirable species might
have to be eliminated because of property
or safety concerns. Vines can ruin house
paint, and roots seeking purchase can
create or enlarge wall crevices.
Volunteers such as the scarlet milk-
weed (Asclepias curassavica) pictured
growing in a juniper and silver button-
wood hedge, are absolute gifts. Although
this species is not a native, it is extremely
Florida friendly and low-maintenance, not
to mention beautiful.
It is a host plant for the monarch and
the queen butterflies and a food source
for a variety of nectar-sipping insects and
hummingbirds. With monarch butterfly
populations plummeting, the appearance
of any species of milkweed should be
something to celebrate.
Just be sure to guard milkweed against
all lawn chemicals and tolerate those
chomping caterpillars that turn into gor-
Live and let live.
Plant Smart explores the diverse
flora of South Florida.
An invasive umbrella tree has taken up
residence below the crown of a native
photos by Gerri Reaves
This cabbage palm growing in a seawall is
a picture of tenacity
Scarlet milkweed, a nectar and host plant
for butterflies, is a welcome interloper
A Labor Of Love
by Cynthia A.
1976) was some-
thing of a legend
as a fisherman
in the waters off
Fort Myers in
the 1950s and
Reproduced for you here are chap-
ters from his unfinished Fisherman’s
Paradise, an account of his fishing
adventures that are often hilarious
and always instructional. It is pre-
sented by Williams’ daughter, Cynthia
Williams, a freelance writer and editor
living in Bokeelia on Pine Island.
The submission to the River Weekly
of 13 chapters of my father’s book,
Fisherman’s Paradise, has been for me
a labor of love. Until now, no portion of
this unfinished book has ever been pub-
lished. My father also left unpublished, at
his untimely death in 1976, a book about
his childhood in Tennessee (The Hickory
Tree). Necessarily, his business affairs
ultimately took precedence over his liter-
ary ambitions and even, believe it or not,
If you have followed this column, you
have read only a third of the chapters he
wrote about his fishing adventures out of
Punta Rassa during the late 1950s and
early 1960s. I have chosen not to pub-
lish 24 of the 37 chapters because they
are not about fishing. Some are gleeful
accounts of the pranks he played upon
friends and family with fish; others retell
the marvelous stories of legend and fact
surrounding Punta Rassa, Mound Key
and the barrier islands. In one chapter, he
gives us the origins of the place names
in Lee County, all of which to him were
“beautiful.” He devotes a chapter to my
mother’s hushpuppies, another to the
death of his beloved basset hound, Sad
Sam, and another to the pet pelican,
Stanley, at Punta Rassa. However sweet
and sad, funny or informative, these
chapters would be of no special interest
In culling the chapters I would submit
to this column, I discovered a list of 27
more that he never had time to write.
Such intriguing titles as Fire Fishing at
Night and Generally Fair, Wind 6 to
12 mph, S. by SE and Cynthia and the
Shark make me wish fervently that he
had written them – especially the last, as
I do not remember any encounter with
sharks on the fishing trips I took with
But I do remember that he would
spend whole mornings at home writing
Fisherman’s Paradise. Sometimes he
would call mother and whichever of his
kids might be home into the living room
and sitting cross-legged on the couch, still
in his pajamas and bathrobe, he would
read aloud to us the chapter he had just
finished. His favorite, Russell and Ollie
at the Ferry Slip and some of the chap-
ters about the devilish pranks he played
with fish, left him weeping with laughter.
I hope you have laughed a little, too.
From page 9
his formal presentation.
The public is invited to attend the
luncheon and the program being held at
The Helm Club, The Landings in South
Fort Myers. A social hour begins at 11:15
a.m. The noon lunch will be followed by
the business meeting and program. The
luncheon cost is $18. Reservations are
required by Thursday, September 10, and
may be made by contacting Tina Laurie,
Additional information about the club
may be obtained by contacting the presi-
dent Carole Green at 850-590-2206.
Berry C. Williams in 1960 on a 20-foot Commodore
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