hand lens

Add a hand lens to your field backpack

If you have ever walked a trail with a botanist to discover and name each flower you pass, you realize the importance of plant morphology in the taxonomic routine of plant identification. Not only do the “small parts” of each flower and leaf provide clues to each plant’s identity and separate members of the same genus and family, they also show the evolutionary trends that forced that species to specially adapt for survival.

fall-stature-larsen

Advice on fall garden maintenance and seed collecting

‘Tis the season for seed collecting. As you return to the garden after the last two months of unbearable heat, biting bugs and sweat, you’ll probably encounter a lot of overgrown stems. Cut those back to their base to freshen up the plant for winter. Trailing species, such as beach sunflower and Gaillardia, can also be whacked into submission and will probably bloom again by late November.

FWF member Jackie Rolly

Member profile: Jackie Rolly

Jackie Rolly joined the Florida Wildflower Foundation when she purchased a license plate for her car many years ago. She’s also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), as well as the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. On Mondays, you’re likely to find her at the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) where she’s been working since 2007. And when the travel bug bites, Rolly volunteers for expeditions with Earthwatch Institute, on which she’s done such things as helped track wild elephants in Sri Lanka and studied biodiversity in the vineyards of France.

Corn snakeroot (Eryngium aquaticum) by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Corn snakeroot

Corn snakeroot blooms vary in color from rich lavender to a pale cornflower blue. They are globular and are surrounded by spiny bracts. They typically bloom summer through late fall, attracting a variety of pollinators. The common name snakeroot (also known as rattlesnakemaster, both of which are used to describe the Eryngium genus) may have come from its use in Native American culture as a remedy for snakebite.

Narrowleaf yellowtops (Flaveria linearis). Photo by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Narrowleaf yellowtops

Narrowleaf yellowtops is a perennial, low-growing herbaceous shrub that produces many bright yellow flowers that are attractive to a plethora of butterflies, bees and flower beetles. It occurs naturally in Florida’s depression and basin marshes, wet prairies, pine rocklands, hydric hammocks, mangrove swamp and tidal marsh edges, and in disturbed or ruderal areas.

Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Passionflower

Purple passionflower, also known as maypop, is an herbaceous, perennial vine that produces extraordinarily intricate purple-and-white-fringed flowers resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It occurs naturally in open hammocks, along roadsides and in disturbed areas and is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the gulf fritillary and zebra longwing.

Dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Dune sunflower

Dune (or beach) sunflower (Helianthus debilis) is a sprawling, herbaceous groundcover that produces many yellow, daisy-like flowers. It typically flowers in the summer, but may flower year-round in South Florida. Its flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees. Its dense growth pattern provides cover for many small animals, while its seeds are eaten by birds.

Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Blue porterweed

Blue porterweed is a low-growing and sprawling evergreen shrub that produces small bluish-purple flowers. It typically blooms in the summer, but may flower year-round in South Florida. It is an excellent addition to a butterfly garden: It is the host plant of the tropical buckeye and is a nectar source for many butterfly species.

Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) on Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Spotted beebalm

Spotted beebalm (also known as dotted horsemint) is a robust, aromatic wildflower known to attract a huge variety of pollinating insects, including bees, wasps and butterflies. It blooms from early summer through fall, and occurs naturally in meadows, coastal dunes, roadsides and dry disturbed areas.

Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Railroad vine

Also known as beach morning glory, bayhops, or goat’s foot, railroad vine is a fast-growing, evergreen, perennial commonly found on beach dunes. Its large showy flowers attract bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and ants. As with other morning glory species, railroad vine flowers open in the morning and last only one day, however, the plant is a prolific bloomer.

American lotus (Nelumbo lutea). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: American lotus

American lotus is an aquatic emergent perennial with large, solitary flowers that are pale yellow in color and are very fragrant. It has one of the largest blooms of any flowering plant in America. It occurs naturally in still to slow moving freshwater habitats such as along lake and pond edges, and in freshwater marshes.