It is more important than ever to make a home for native bees in Florida’s landscapes. Bee expert Dr. Rachel Mallinger of the University of Florida gives tips on the best ways to welcome them to urban landscapes.
Do you enjoy juicy watermelons, local blueberries and strawberries and fresh Florida orange juice? How about carrots, broccoli, almonds and apples? If you do, please thank an insect, especially during National Pollinator Week, June 17-23. Learn more about our pollinators – especially native bees – and why they are so important.
Spanish stopper (Eugenia foetida) is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to coastal hardwood hammocks and thickets in Central and South Florida. Its semi-showy flowers bloom year-round, with peak blooming in spring and summer, attracting many types of pollinators. Its dense foliage provides cover and its abundant fruit provides food for birds and other small animals.
Helmet skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia) is a diminutive yet showy wildflower that occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods and upland mixed forests, as well as along marsh and swamp edges. It typically blooms in late spring and summer, attracting a wide range of bees, including leafcutter, cuckoo and bumble bees. A few butterflies, such as the Gulf fritillary, Spicebush swallowtail and Eastern black swallowtail, sporadically visit the flower.
Insect populations are falling at alarming rates all around the world because of pesticide use, our climate crisis and habitat loss. It’s time to ask yourself: What have I done for insects lately? If the answer is “nothing,” you can take action now with this simple plan.
Fringed bluestar occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, sandhills and scrub throughout west Central Florida and North Florida. It blooms spring through fall, attracting a variety of pollinators, especially butterflies. Despite being in the same family as milkweed, the plant is not a known larval host for Monarchs or other milkweed butterflies.
Also known as Beach verbena, Coastal mock vervain is a short-lived perennial wildflower endemic primarily to Florida’s east coast. It is a state-listed endangered species. It blooms year-round, although the most prolific flowering occurs in spring and summer. Beach verbena flowers are a good nectar source for a variety of butterflies and moths, including Gulf fritillaries, hawkmoths and Long-tailed skippers. They are also attractive to miner bees and long-tongued bees such as bumble and orchid bees.
Also known as Golden canna or Yellow canna, Bandanna-of-the-Everglades (Canna flaccida) is a robust aquatic wildflower with large, showy orchid-like blooms. It occurs naturally in freshwater marshes and swamps, and along pond and lake margins throughout much of Florida. It is the larval host for the Brazilian skipper; dragonfly larvae have been know to hide in the leaves until they change into adults. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flower’s nectar.
Dr. Jaret Daniels of the University of Florida has accepted an appointment to the Florida Wildflower Foundation board of directors. Jaret is a UF associate professor of entomology and director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History. His research focuses on insect ecology, population biology and conservation, with particular emphasis on butterflies and other native pollinators.
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a woody shrub found in pinelands and hammocks throughout Florida. The plant’s foliage offers cover for small wildlife. Its flowers are a nectar source for butterflies and bees, while its dense clusters of berries provide food for birds and deer in late summer and fall.
When Scott Davis found a large population of the state-listed endangered Night-blooming petunia (Ruellia noctiflora) growing along US 98, he asked the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to declare it a protected wildflower area. FDOT did. When the construction of the bike trail between Crawfordville and St. Marks was slated to roll right over the plants, Scott planned a rescue operation.
Wildflowers are flourishing all over the Panhandle following a mild winter. We have some good news to report from across the region, with two new PWA leaders to introduce from Gadsden and Jefferson counties.
The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs recently announced its 2019 Ella P. Woods Paths of Sunshine Award winners. The program recognizes the Florida Department of Transportation’s commitment to native wildflower and plant conservation and applicants’ understanding of the department’s policy of conserving and managing naturally occurring roadside wildflowers.
The Florida Wildflower Symposium earned a Green-Certified Sustainability Event Rating from the University of Florida Office of Sustainability, honoring our efforts to minimize waste and encourage recycling and composting throughout the event.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation recognized Master Gardener Suzanne Spencer for her work in Santa Rosa County, presenting her with a certificate of appreciation at the Florida Wildflower Symposium. Her efforts have resulted in reduced mowing along 70 miles of state and county roads, which has saved $70,000 in state and county tax dollars while creating beauty and pollinator habitat that supports the success of Panhandle agriculture.