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.
Anne MacKay received the 2019 T. Elizabeth Pate Coreopsis Award during the Florida Wildflower Symposium on April 13 in recognition of her advocacy for Florida’s wildflowers. For 20 years, Anne has steered work for Florida’s wildflowers, first serving on the Florida Wildflower Advisory Council, then on the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s board of directors, on which she served as chair.
More than 200 participants packed the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center in Gainesville last Friday and Saturday for the Florida Wildflower Symposium and its array of workshops and presentations.
Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) is an evergreen shrub that occurs naturally in coastal, hydric, mesic and rockland hammocks throughout Florida’s peninsula. Its flowers typically bloom in spring and summer, but may bloom year-round. They are attractive to a variety of pollinators, especially Atala and Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies. The plant’s fruits are a favorite of many birds and small wildlife. Humans can eat the berries, as well, but they are rather bland.
Coastal doghobble (Leucothoe axillaris) is an evergreen shrub found in swamps, wet hammocks and flatwoods, and along stream edges. Its profusion of spring-blooming flowers is pollinated primarily by bees. It is best suited for moist, shady landscapes, but requires good air circulation to prevent leaf spot diseases. Its interesting evergreen foliage and showy flowers keep it attractive throughout the year.
Virginia willow (Itea virginica) is an erect to spreading shrub with showy spikes of tiny white flowers that bloom in late winter through early summer. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps, seepage slopes, stream and lake edges, and calcareous and mesic hammocks. The plant provides food and cover for wildlife. Despite its common name, it is not a true willow, which are members of the Salix genus in the Salicaceae family. It is also known as Sweetspire and Tassel-white.
Want to learn about Florida’s native wildflowers and the butterflies, bees and wildlife depending on them? Join us at the Florida Wildflower Symposium on April 12 and 13 in Gainesville to learn from expert speakers and workshop leaders. Visit the symposium page to learn more. Cost is $45 for Florida Wildflower Foundation members and $55 for nonmembers.
Yellow anisetree (Illicium parviflorum) is an evergreen shrub to small tree found in mesic hammocks, bluffs, ravines and seepage swamps. It is endemic to only seven Central Florida counties. Its dense evergreen foliage provides cover for birds and other wildlife. Its lightly fragrant blooms appear in spring and summer. They are pollinated by small insects, particularly flies in the Diptera order.
Given the chance of above-normal temperatures and rain throughout the state, expect a good spring show of native wildflowers through May, with some of the typical summer flowering species popping early.