Peppers busted; Henderson honored

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Dale Henderson is the person who said “The Garden Club should do something about the Brazilian Pepper in Cedar Key”.
She said it in 1998.
The Cedar Key Garden Club and local citizens have been “doing something” about Brazilian Pepper ever since she made that remark. Henderson was given a Certificate of Appreciation and a “Thank You” card from Garden Club members at the Jan. 6 kick-off of the 2012 season.
 The Brazilian Pepper is a non-native species that biologist say is one of Florida’s biggest biological threats. It arrived in Florida in the 1840s as an ornamental plant and folks started calling it Florida Holly because of its red berries. But it went wild, grew large and began to shade out desirable native species.
 Henderson was instrumental in gathering support from the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge which led to an important grant in 1999 from the National Association of Counties, National Association of Services and Conservation Corps, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Habitat Council. The Garden Club has continued to fund the project each year, buying herbicide, gloves, safety glasses and sprayers.
Thirteen years later it is clear that the environment of Cedar Key has benefited from the work of Henderson and other volunteers. While there are still plants to be eradicated, and berries to be clipped, many places once dominated by Brazilian Pepper now are filled with mangrove, cedar and palmettos.