Rabbitbells (Crotalaria rotundifolia) is a low-growing wildflower found in pinelands, sandhills and disturbed sandy areas throughout Florida. Its small yellow flowers bloom throughout the year, attracting mostly bees. The unassuming plant often goes unnoticed as its flowers do not open until the afternoon and remain open only for one day. Of the 15 species of Crotalaria that occur in Florida, only four are native. Rabbitbells is the most common and widespread of the native species.
Carolina cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum) is an annual native wildflower that occurs in lawns, urban gardens and disturbed areas throughout Florida. It is often considered a weed, but its winter- and spring-blooming flowers attract bees and other small pollinators. Birds eat the seeds and white-tailed deer may forage on the leaves. Humans can eat the leaves, too, but they can be very bitter and astringent. The root has been used historically to treat sore throats and diarrhea. Carolina cranesbill is Florida’s only native Geranium species.
Ceraunus blue butterflies, found in the gossamer-winged family, fly in southern Florida throughout the year. The common name of these small butterflies comes from the violet blue of the male’s dorsal side. Females have a smaller amount of blue which is located on their dorsal side at the base of their wings. The larval hosts of the Ceraunus blue are plants in the Fabaceae family.
Clamshell orchid (Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra) is a striking epiphytic orchid found in South Florida’s cypress swamps and hammocks.This state-listed endangered species blooms late fall through early spring, peaking in December. Blooms can last several months. The plant is believed to be self-pollinated in Florida as it has no known pollinators here. The plant has several common names, including Florida cockleshell orchid and Octopus orchid.
The Foundation is now accepting applications for its Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration grant. The grants provide assistance to Florida parks, nature centers, county extension offices and other public spaces that wish to establish or augment wildflower demonstration gardens. Resulting gardens showcase the beauty and variety of Florida’s native wildflowers while demonstrating their use in conventional landscapes.
What will Florida’s ecosystems look and feel like in the future? Using herbarium records, scientists can predict how Florida’s native plants will react to our changing climate. In this free webinar, Drs. Pamela and Douglas Soltis will discuss how an “evolutionary tree” is being built with molecular samples from herbarium collections to predict Florida’s natural future.
The understated vegetative appearance of Scaleleaf aster (Symphyotrichum adnatum), also known as Clasping aster or Whipcord aster, is hardly noticeable when not in bloom. But in late fall and early winter, its copious periwinkle blooms make for a showy display in pine flatwood and sandhill understories throughout much of Florida. The daisy-like flowers are attractive to many pollinators, especially bees. The plant is easily distinguished from other Symphyotrichum species by its scale-like leaves and wiry appearance.
Sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) is an aptly named shrub to small tree with golden, sweet-scented flowers that bloom year-round, peaking in winter. These nectar-rich flowers attract a variety of pollinators, especially butterflies like the Red-banded hairstreak. The plant’s dense foliage provides cover for birds and small animals. Few birds eat the pods. Sweet acacia occurs naturally in pinelands, coastal hammocks and shell middens throughout Central and South Florida, with rare populations in three Panhandle counties. In Europe, the plant is cultivated for use in perfumes.
Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) blooms in October and November and is a magnet for bees and butterflies. Its flowers are distinguishable from other Symphyotrichum species by their relatively large size (up to 2 inches in diameter) and deep violet-colored ray petals. In Florida, the plant occurs only in Leon County and is a state-listed threatened species. It is also found in a few counties in Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina. Habitat loss and fire suppression in its native pineland and savanna ecosystems have contributed significantly to its decline.
The brilliant red flowers of Scarlet calamint (Calamintha coccinea) offer a dramatic contrast against the backdrop of scrub, sandhill and coastal dunes where the plant naturally occurs. The long, nectar-rich flowers are particularly attractive to hummingbirds and large butterflies. They bloom in abundance in early spring and late fall, but may flower sporadically throughout the year. In peak bloom, a single plant may produce 100 or more flowers.
October flower (Polygonum polygamum) is a subshrub found in sandhill, scrub and scrubby flatwoods throughout much of Florida. For most of the year, it is a rather understated plant. But in late summer and fall — particularly October — it is covered in a profusion of snowy white blooms. These small but prolific flowers are especially attractive to native bees.
Thinking of applying for a Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration Garden grant? Want to know more about the program? This recorded webinar will introduce you to the program’s eligibility, project and budget requirements and show examples of successful Viva Florida-funded projects.
Did you know that many of Florida’s native plants are edible? Even some of those pesky “weeds” that pop up in our yards have culinary value. Watch “Incredible Edible Natives,” presented by FWF Program Manager Stacey Matrazzo, to learn about the edible, medicinal and nutritional properties of some native plants commonly found in our yards and landscapes.
Clustered bushmint (Hyptis alata) occurs naturally along pond and swamp margins, in moist roadside ditches, and in wet prairies and pinelands. It typically blooms spring through fall, but may bloom year-round. The small flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, wasps and occasionally hummingbirds. When crushed, the plant emits a musky fragrance, giving it another common name, Musky mint.
October started with a beautiful full moon, and in those hours when a wildflower gardener can’t sleep, she looks out the upstairs window over her dappled moonlit wildflower garden. It looks serene and scary at the same time!