Flaxleaf aster, Ionactis linariifolia

Flower Friday: Flaxleaf aster

Flaxleaf aster (Ionactis linariifolia) is a petite perennial wildflower that occurs in the sandhill and pine flatwoods communities of Florida’s Panhandle. It blooms primarily in October and November, but may bloom as early as September. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies.

Liatris bloom in pine flatwoods

Field trip: Heartwood Preserve

Heartwood Preserve is the first conservation cemetery within a nature preserve in the Tampa Bay area. Join us on this unique opportunity to learn about the efforts to conserve and permanently protect this endangered natural habitat through environmentally friendly burial options. Visit longleaf pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands. Learn the land’s history and management, the importance of fire ecology and the process of conservation burial.

Alice's Pond at Mead Garden

Annual Meeting at Mead Botanical Garden

Florida Wildflower Foundation members are invited to join us Sunday, Oct. 6 at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park for our annual membership meeting. Enjoy a guided walk through Mead’s native gardens and restoration areas, followed by light hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Browse a selection of native plants from Green Isle Gardens. Dr. Jaret Daniels of the Florida Museum of Natural History will present “All Landscapes Matter.”

Maryland goldenaster, Chrysopsis mariana

Flower Friday: Maryland goldenaster

Florida has 11 native Goldenaster species, eight of which are endemic; several are listed by the state as rare or endangered. Maryland goldenaster (Chrysopsis mariana) is found in pinelands, sandhills and sandy roadsides. Native butterflies, as well as a variety of native long-tongued bees – including green metallic, sweat, leafcutter, bumble and mining bees – are attracted to the plant’s nectar. The flowers bloom in spring, summer and fall.

Clayton Hutcheson Facility at Mounts Botanical Garden

Join us at The Native Plant Show

The Native Plant Show combines classes and exhibits to highlight the beauty, functionality and diversity of native plants now available. See live plants and talk to experts: growers, retailers, landscape and environmental professionals. Learn to plant what works from the professionals who use native plants every day, and benefit from their many years of experience with commercial, residential, institutional and natural restoration sites. Find everything you need to make native plants your new norm.

Sandsquares, Paronychia rugelii

Flower Friday: Sandsquares

Also known as Rugel’s nailwort, Sandsquares (Paronychia rugelii) is one of Florida’s most unique wildflowers. It occurs naturally in sandy habitats such as pine flatwoods, sandhills, scrub and disturbed areas. And as its name implies, it has a square inflorescence! Sandsquares bloom from summer into early fall, attracting mostly small bees. The plant is easily overlooked due to its short stature.

Roadside patch of Chapman's fringed orchid, Platanthera chapmanii

Flower Friday: Chapman’s fringed orchid

Chapman’s fringed orchid (Platanthera chapmanii) is an endangered terrestrial orchid found in wet prairies, pine savannas and along wet roadsides and ditches. Its showy flowers typically bloom in summer and peak in August. Although this species is rare, Chapman’s fringed orchids tend to grow in small colonies resulting in patches of bright color. Many botanists believe Chapman’s fringed orchid is a natural hybrid of Yellow fringed orchid (P. ciliaris) and Crested fringed orchid (P. cristata).

Silver-spotted skipper

Know your native pollinators: Silver-spotted skipper

You might find one of these creatures hanging upside-down, but it’s not a bat (or a vampire). It’s a Silver-spotted skipper!

The Silver-spotted skipper is one of the largest, most widespread and recognizable skippers. It has a quick jerky flight that is typical of skippers. This type of butterfly is common and can be found from northern Mexico to southern Canada, as well as most of the continental United States.You can find Silver-spotted skippers throughout Florida. These butterflies enjoy a disturbed habitat, open woods, foothills, stream sides, prairie waterways, edges of forests, swamps, brushy areas and other open areas with nectar plants.

Carolina milkweed, Asclepias cinerea

Flower Friday: Carolina milkweed

With its narrow leaves and fine stems, Carolina milkweed (Asclepias cinerea) can get lost among the wiregrass with which it typically grows. But its splendidly stellar blooms will stop you in your tracks. You’ll find it flowering in summer in sandhills, pine flatwoods and bogs throughout the Panhandle and North Florida. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Carolina milkweed is a larval host plant for Monarch and Queen butterflies. Its flowers are an important nectar source for bees and wasps.

White lobelia, Lobelia paludosa

Flower Friday: White lobelia

White lobelia (Lobelia paludosa) is a winsome, wet-loving wildflower found in swamps and wet flatwoods throughout much of Florida. It primarily blooms in spring and summer, but may bloom year-round, especially in South Florida. The flowers attract bees and butterflies. The genus Lobelia is named for Matthias de Lobel (1538-1616), a Flemish physician, botanist and author of a landmark botany textbook. The species epithet paludosa is from the Latin paludosus, meaning boggy, swampy or marshy.

Gulf fritillary on Elliott's aster, Symphyotrichum elliottii

Know your native pollinators: Gulf fritillary

The Gulf fritillary is sometimes known as the Passion butterfly — so named because of its ardor for Passionflower. You will find so much to love about this unique pollinator!

Gulf fritillaries are medium-sized butterflies with elongated forewings that live in the extreme southern United States. Outside of the U.S., they are a broad-ranging species, found throughout Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and into South America.Gulf fritillaries enjoy a variety of habitat including sunny roadsides, disturbed areas, edges, fields, pastures, woodlands, second-growth semitropical forests and urban areas like parks and yards. You may even find them blithely floating around your butterfly garden.

 

Florida milkvine, Matelea floridana

Flower Friday: Florida milkvine

Also known as Florida spiny pod, Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana) is a deciduous twining vine that occurs naturally in sandhills, woodlands and other open habitats. Its small flowers bloom in late spring and summer. They are pollinated mostly by beetles. The plant is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies and is a state-listed endangered species.

Softhair coneflower, Rudbeckia mollis

Flower Friday: Softhair coneflower

Softhair coneflower (Rudbeckia mollis) is a robust plant with bright yellow blooms that provide late spring and summer color to sandhills, dry open hammocks and roadsides in North and Central Florida. Butterflies and Halictid bees nectar on the flowers, while small birds enjoy eating the seeds. Use it in a mixed wildflower planting or in the back of a planting where its height can be appreciated. It is drought tolerant and requires little to no maintenance once established. It does not tolerate prolonged shade. Although the plant typically perishes after it blooms, it is a prolific self-seeder and can produce many seedlings.

Monarch caterpillar

Milkweed workday at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Scott Davis has been working on the milkweed restoration initiative since 2015, when he started with a single greenhouse table of seedlings. Since then he has been scouring the state for native milkweed populations and bringing seeds back to the refuge to propagate. He estimates that 300,000 plants have been grown there, which have been planted as part of restoration projects at state parks, state forests and national wildlife refuges across the state. It is no easy task to grow these plants, either.