Also known as Twinberry, Simpson’s stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that occurs naturally in coastal strands and hammocks. Its year-round blooms attract a variety of butterflies and bees; its fruit provides food for many species of bird. The sweet flesh of the fruit is edible to humans, but eating the bitter seeds is not recommended.
Yellow necklacepod (Sophora tomentosa var. truncata) is a long-lived flowering shrub that occurs naturally in coastal strands, hammocks and dunes throughout Central and South Florida. The flowers, which bloom year-round, attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other small birds. The plant provides food and cover for a variety of wildlife.
White-line sphinx moths can be found throughout the world, but are especially common in North America. They live in habitats ranging from desert to tropics and will forage on a wide variety of flowers. Their long tongues make them well-adapted to sip nectar from long, tubular blooms, and they are common visitors of night blooming flowers.
Chapman’s wild sensitive plant (Senna mexicana var. chapmanii) is a robust evergreen perennial that occurs in pine rocklands, coastal stands and along hammock edges in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Due to its limited natural range, it is a state-listed threatened species. Its many flowers are visited by a variety of bees for their pollen and nectar. Butterflies such as the Sleepy orange, Little yellow, and Cloudless, Orange-barred and Statira sulphurs are also frequent visitors. All members of the Senna genus are larval host plants for Sulphur caterpillars.
Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on Dec. 8 for a fun, family-friendly day in the forest. Forest Service biologist Jay Garcia will introduce us to the Ocala National Forest. Learn how the scrub habitat is being managed and restored. Find out why the Forest Service is allowing people to cut down trees and how it fits into their management plan. Then we’ll caravan to the Christmas tree cutting site, where everyone with a permit will have the opportunity to pick out and cut down their very own fresh-from-Florida sand pine.
White indigoberry (Randia aculeata) is an evergreen flowering shrub or small tree found in pine rocklands and coastal strands and hammocks in Central and South Florida. Its fragrant flowers bloom year-round, attracting a variety of butterflies, including Schaus’ swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus). Its pulpy fruit provides food for many birds. The plant is the larval host plant for the Tantalus sphinx moth (Aellopus tantalus).
Elliott’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii) is a perennial bunchgrass that occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills, prairies and disturbed sites throughout Florida. Its delicate little flowers appear in such abundance that they cover the plant in a billowy beige haze. It typically blooms in fall, but may produce flowers in summer or even year-round. Its seeds are tiny yet prolific, providing plenty of food for invertebrates and small birds, which use the plant’s dense foliage for cover, as well.
Button rattlesnakemaster (Eryngium yuccifolium) is a peculiar perennial wildflower that occurs in flatwoods, sandhills, savannas and marshes throughout Florida. Its flowers bloom in late spring through fall. They are frequented by a variety of pollinators, but are of special value to native bees. The plant attracts many predatory and parasitoid insects that prey on garden pests. It also attracts bats. The common name rattlesnakemaster (also known as snakeroot) may have come from its use by Native Americans as an antidote for rattlesnake venom.
With over 1,300 species in North America alone, Tachinid flies are an extremely diverse group, yet they are often overlooked. Once you spot one, however, you’re likely to start recognizing them everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled on both flowers and foliage for these hairy pollinators. Tachinid fly larvae are known parasitoids of many nuisance bugs. How they enter their hosts varies, but once inside, all tachinid larvae begin to consume their host internally. This may sound like a Halloween horror story, but Tachinid larvae are great at keeping garden pests in check.
The Fall 2018 Panhandle Wildflower Alliance newsletter features news about life after Hurricane Michael, State Road 65 wildflowers, and Santa Rosa County’s wildflower program and extension garden, as well as a call for volunteers for a planting project.
Feay’s palafox (Palafoxia feayi) is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray florets; and its disk florets are tubular.
Okaloosa County is home to some of Florida’s most diverse natural areas. When entomologist UF’s Dr. Marc Minno and resident MaryAnn Friedman discovered Frosted elfin caterpillars on Sundial lupine along State Road 189 there, they successfully enlisted the help of FDOT to alter mowing to keep the butterfly’s roadside habitat flourishing.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation recently updated its Panhandle Wildflowers brochure. The publication features photos of common Panhandle wildflowers along with a map pinpointing wildflower roadsides in the Panhandle’s 16 counties, from Escambia to Jefferson.
Also known as Golden creeper and Coughbush, Beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis) is an evergreen low-growing, mat-forming shrub found on dunes, beaches and coastal hammock edges throughout Central and South Florida. It produces flowers and fruits year-round. The nectar attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, while the berries provide food for birds and small wildlife.
The redesigned State Wildflower license plate, now available at county tax collector’s offices, sports a butterfly with two species of Coreopsis, Florida’s official wildflower. Having the fluttering insect as a key part of the new design helps raise awareness of beleaguered pollinators while illustrating the critical link between them and their vanishing wild habitats.