Plant blindness: Have you hugged a wildflower today?

When was the last time you read a bedtime story about Morning glories to your kids? Or bought them a cuddly stuffed plant? If you’re a typical 21st century individual, the answer is “never.” Plant stories and toys aren’t wildly popular because most people today suffer from plant blindness, an inability to notice the myriad plants in our environment.

Dr. Elisabeth Schussler, the Florida Wildflower Symposium keynote speaker, will shed light on this phenomenon, which she discovered during a research project.

Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). Photo by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Frogfruit

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.

Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo.

Flower Friday: Wild blue phlox

Also known as woodland phlox, wild blue phlox is a delicate perennial wildflower. Its beautiful blooms appear from spring into early summer in slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks. It is limited to four Panhandle counties in Florida, but is widespread throughout the United States. Many pollinators are attracted to the blooms, especially butterflies. Its roots are eaten by rabbits and other small mammals.

FWF member takes action with plant give-away

What’s a wildflower gardener to do with those extra seedlings that pop up? Instead of pulling them like unwanted weeds, FWF member Jim McGinity decided to pay it forward. Using an idea reminiscent of a curbside lemonade stand, he repots the wee seedlings and offers them for free to neighbors and passers-by. Not only that, he uses them as welcome-to-the-neighborhood gifts for new residents. It’s an idea we love: What’s more neighborly than sharing the joy of wildflowers?

WIld pennyroyal (Piloblephes rigida) Photo by Wayne Matchett

Flower Friday: Wild pennyroyal

Wild pennyroyal is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. It typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round, and occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. Its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.

lygodesmia_alphylla

Flower Friday: Rose-rush

Rose-rush is a striking perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in sandy flatwoods, scrub, sandhills and pine barrens throughout most of Florida. It is near-endemic, occurring outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties. It blooms spring through summer; in South Florida, it may bloom into fall. Like other asters, it attracts a variety of pollinators.

Common blue violet (Viola sororia). Photo by Katherine Edison

Flower Friday: Common blue violet

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.

Blueflower butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea)

Flower Friday: Blueflower butterwort

Blueflower butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea) is an insectivorous wildflower that typically blooms between January and May. It occurs naturally in bogs and low pinelands throughout much of the Florida peninsula. It is a state-threatened species and is susceptible to drought conditions, drainage, habitat loss and illegal collection.