Also known as seven sisters or swamp lily, string lily is an erect, emergent perennial with showy, fragrant blooms. It is found in wet hammocks, marshes, swamps, wetland edges, and along streams and rivers throughout Florida and the southeast United States. The bulbs and leaves are poisonous to humans, but are a favorite treat of lubber grasshoppers.
Also known as largeflower rosegentian, marsh-pink is a beautiful herbaceous wildflower found in mesic pine flatwoods and wet prairies throughout Florida. In northern Florida, its showy blooms appear in summer, but it can bloom year-round in southern Florida. It is almost endemic, occurring in only one county in Alabama outside of the state of Florida.
Also known as cardinal spear or Cherokee bean, coralbean is a semi-deciduous to evergreen woody shrub. It produces red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Firebush is a hardy, fast-growing and showy evergreen shrub to small tree. It produces clusters of bright orange to red tubular flowers that are filled with nectar. The blooms vary in length, attracting both butterflies and hummingbirds.
Virginia pepperweed is a member of the mustard family and is edible to humans. It is also the host plant for the checkered white (Pontia protodice) and great Southern white (Ascia monuste) butterflies. Bees love it, too!
Butterweed is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in early spring. It grows in dense stands that illuminate moist roadsides and river edges. It also occurs naturally in alluvial forests and wet, disturbed sites and attracts a variety of pollinators.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation provides scholarships for masters students studying wildflowers within the University of Florida’s Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Consortium of the Department of Environmental Horticulture in Gainesville. Tia Tyler, the second of two students supported by FWF, is advised by Dr. Hector Perez, Associate Professor at the Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Consortium at the Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida.
Instrumental in getting the Florida Wildflower Foundation off the ground, Anne Mackay continues to serve on the Foundation’s board, first serving on the Florida Wildflower Council board, then as board chair for the Florida Wildflower Foundation. Read why she stays involved.
Frogfruit is known by many names: turkey tangle fogfruit, capeweed, matchhead, creeping Charlie… Regardless of what you call it, frogfruit is both a versatile and vital wildflower. This evergreen perennial is low-growing and creeping, often forming dense mats of green foliage.
If you are tired of mowing, watering and fertilizing the lawn, and fighting chinch bugs and other lawn pests, consider replacing your turf grass with oblongleaf twinflower, an easy-to-care-for native groundcover. It occurs naturally in dry to moist sandhills, flatwoods and mixed upland forests and attracts bees and butterflies, including the malachite (Siproeta stelenes) and white peacock (Anartia jatrophae). It is also a host plant for the common buckeye (Junonia coenia).
Some say creeping woodsorrel is a shamrock impersonator with its clove-like leaf blade. All will say that this ground-hugging native plant has an eye-catching yellow flower. It can bloom almost any time during the year, although spring is the time for heavy flowering and seed formation.
Dainty, ground-hugging, perennial, flowering and edible are just a few descriptions for Florida’s common blue violet. This plant is aptly named as it is the violet that is most common throughout Florida and is often seen in cultivated lawns. It grows in clumps, forming a thick groundcover that will never need to be mowed. They are prolific self-seeders, as well. When grown in the right conditions, violets flower from spring through the summer months.
Spiderwort is an erect perennial wildflower that is very attractive to bees. And like all species in the dayflower family, it is ephemeral, meaning its flowers stay open only one day. Four species of spiderwort are native to Florida, with hairyflower spiderwort (T. hirsutiflora) growing in the Panhandle, and bluejacket or Ohio spiderwort (T. ohiensis) being the most common throughout North and Central Florida.
Also known as Canadian toadflax, blue toadflax is an annual (or occasionally biennial) wildflower that forms a delicate sea of lavender when in bloom. It is common along roadsides, in pastures and in other disturbed areas and is sometimes confused with lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) because of its similar growth habit and bloom color, and because they often grow together.
No matter what you call it — beggar’s tick, Spanish needle, monkey’s lice — Bidens alba is likely the most underappreciated of all Florida’s native wildflower. It is often considered a weed because it reproduces so prolifically, but it is a great native wildflower for attracting pollinators. In Florida, it is the third most common source of nectar for honey production. Its young leaves and flowers are edible.