Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos). Photo by Jason Hollinger (Creative Commons license)

Flower Friday: Skyblue clustervine

Skyblue clustervine is an evergreen, twining vine and is endangered in Florida. It is also known as Key West morning-glory, and occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and along wetlands in South Florida. It attracts a variety of pollinators, including the nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis), tantalus sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) and tersa sphinx (Xylophanes tersa) moths, which pollinate the flowers at dusk.

Flower Friday: Hammock snakeroot

Hammock snakeroot is yet another member of the Eupatorieae tribe of the Aster family, which means its flowers consist of only disk and no ray florets. It flowers in summer through early winter and occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, sandhills, hammocks, upland mixed woodlands, and along roadsides and stream banks. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees, butterflies and birds, but the plant is poisonous to both humans and livestock if ingested.

Climbing aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum). Photo by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Climbing aster

Climbing aster is a robust vine-like shrub that produces many fragrant daisy-like blooms of lavender to pinkish or even bluish. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps and marshes, in coastal hammocks and wet pine flatwoods, and along riverbanks and lake edges, and is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.

Drumheads (Polygala cruciata). Photo by Wayne Matchett.

Flower Friday: Drumheads

Drumheads is a low-growing wildflower that blooms from late spring through fall. They occur naturally throughout most of Florida in wet pinelands, savannas and other open wetland habitats, as well as along marsh edges. The name Polygala comes from the Greek polys, which means “many or much,” and gala, which means “milk.” It is so-named because it was once believed that the presence of Polygala species in cow fields would result in higher milk production.

Garberia (Garberia heterophylla). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Garberia

Garberia is a member of the Eupatorieae tribe of the Aster family, whose members produce flowers consisting of only disk and no ray florets. It is unlike most Aster species in that its growth habit is woody and shrubby rather than herbaceous. It is endemic to Florida’s north and central peninsula, and occurs naturally in scrub and xeric hammocks. It is a state-listed threatened species.

Forked blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Forked bluecurls

Forked bluecurls is an herbaceous to woody annual that bears dainty yet distinctive bluish-purple blooms. Flowers are short-lived, opening only in the morning, but individual plants may produce thousands of flowers throughout a season. It also has a particularly long flowering season, typically beginning in late summer and lasting through late fall.

hand lens

Add a hand lens to your field backpack

If you have ever walked a trail with a botanist to discover and name each flower you pass, you realize the importance of plant morphology in the taxonomic routine of plant identification. Not only do the “small parts” of each flower and leaf provide clues to each plant’s identity and separate members of the same genus and family, they also show the evolutionary trends that forced that species to specially adapt for survival.

fall-stature-larsen

Advice on fall garden maintenance and seed collecting

‘Tis the season for seed collecting. As you return to the garden after the last two months of unbearable heat, biting bugs and sweat, you’ll probably encounter a lot of overgrown stems. Cut those back to their base to freshen up the plant for winter. Trailing species, such as beach sunflower and Gaillardia, can also be whacked into submission and will probably bloom again by late November.

Fall is for planting

“Fall is for planting” has been the unofficial promotional campaign of the nursery industry for many years. This slogan applies to sowing seeds of native wildflowers and grasses as well, at least here in Florida. Establishing a planting of wildflowers, whether as a garden or converting some turfgrass to a low-maintenance area, is very laudable, but it first requires a reality check.

FWF member Jackie Rolly

Member profile: Jackie Rolly

Jackie Rolly joined the Florida Wildflower Foundation when she purchased a license plate for her car many years ago. She’s also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), as well as the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. On Mondays, you’re likely to find her at the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) where she’s been working since 2007. And when the travel bug bites, Rolly volunteers for expeditions with Earthwatch Institute, on which she’s done such things as helped track wild elephants in Sri Lanka and studied biodiversity in the vineyards of France.

Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) by Eleanor Dietrich

Farewell summer, hello fall

Sometimes we think of spring as having the showiest wildflower display, but I think this time of year wins that title. Somehow nature has worked this out. Pollinators are abundant, gathering their provisions before cold weather comes. The fall wildflowers are taller too, having had the whole summer to grow.