Eumaeus atala by Mary Keim

Know your native pollinators: Atala

Florida once teemed with Atala butterflies but overharvesting of the Atala’s host plant Coontie caused a drastic decline in butterfly populations. During the mid-20th century Atalas were thought to be extinct. Now populations are rebounding thanks to the high demand for Coontie in native landscaping. Atalas are lovely hairstreak butterflies with velvety black wings that shine with an iridescent aquamarine. The underside of their wings displays three rows of small aquamarine dots and a larger reddish orange spot on the hindwing.

 

 

pink rose flower

Flower Friday: Swamp rose

Swamp rose (Rosa palustris) is a deciduous flowering shrub found along river and stream banks and in floodplain swamps, freshwater marshes and wet ditches. Its bright pink flowers bloom in late spring through early summer and attract a variety of pollinators — especially native bees. Its fruits, which may persist through winter, are consumed by birds and small mammals.

Wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa

Webinar: Landscaping in Shady Areas

Here in Florida, shade is a valuable part of our landscapes, but it creates challenges. That’s because plants feed on sunlight and even the most shade-tolerant plants require it to grow and flower. In dense shade, few plants survive for long. Watch this video, where Dr. Craig Huegel introduces you to the complex concept called shade and how to work with it to achieve beautiful results.

bright orange thimble-like flowerhead

Flower Friday: Orange milkwort

Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea) is a short but showy wildflower found in bogs, savannas, pine flatwoods and roadside ditches throughout Florida. It typically blooms March through November, but can bloom year-round. Its flowers are self-pollinating. Its seeds are spread almost exclusively by ants.

white flowers and pink flower buds of swamp milkweed

Flower Friday: Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) is an erect, herbaceous perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in floodplain swamps, marshes and wet ditches, and along riverbanks. It typically blooms in late spring through early fall and attracts many pollinators. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, it is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. The plant contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals, but Monarch, Queen and Soldier caterpillars are adapted to feed on them despite the chemical defense. The flowers are an important nectar source for native bees, wasps and butterflies.

Create a Pollinator Pot

The insects that pollinate our food crops and natural areas are in steep decline. Our suburban landscapes are more important than ever in supporting them. No place for a garden? No problem! Our new video and handout can help you create a small pollinator oasis in a pot!

Hairy chaffhead and Smallfruit beggarticks along roadside

Webinar: Save Our Roadsides

In this 90-minute workshop, we will launch the North Florida Wildflower Alliance and show participants how to help conserve roadside wildflowers and set up a wildflower program in their counties. Speakers include butterfly expert Dr. Jaret Daniels, Neil Greishaw of Alachua County’s amazing roadside wildflower program, and Cindy Tramel of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida scrub roseling, Callisia ornata

Flower Friday: Florida scrub roseling

Florida scrub roseling (Callisia ornata) is a beautiful and delicate wildflower endemic to Florida, where it occurs in sandhill and scrub habitats. It typically blooms spring through fall and attracts a variety of pollinators — especially bees. A member of the dayflower family, the plant is a close relative of (and its blooms look very similar to) Tradescantia and Commelina species. And like these species, the Florida scrub roseling flower is ephemeral, meaning it opens in the morning and closes by early afternoon.

Profusion of small white Sparkleberry flowers

Flower Friday: Sparkleberry

Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) is a flowering shrub to small tree found in hammocks and woodlands throughout much of Florida. It is the larval host for the Striped hairstreak and Henry’s elfin butterflies. In spring, its many small but fragrant flowers attract a variety of pollinators — especially native bees. Berries appear in late summer and may remain on the plant well into winter, providing food for birds and other wildlife. Humans can eat them, too, but their bland to bitter flavor makes them a better component of pies and jellies than a trailside nibble.