Spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) is a robust herbaceous perennial with a bad reputation of being one of the most toxic plants known to man. It occurs naturally in freshwater swamps, marshes and floodplains, and along riverbanks and roadside ditches. It blooms spring through fall, attracting many species of bees, wasps and butterflies. It is a larval host plant for the Black swallowtail.
Hairy leaf cup (Smallanthus uvedalia) occurs naturally in upland hardwood forests, slope forests, upland mixed woodlands, and moist shaded hammocks. It typically blooms in summer and attracts a variety of bees and other pollinators.
Also known as morning buttercup, Pitted stripeseed (Piriqueta cistoides) is a cheerful perennial wildflower. It emerges in early spring in open, sandy areas of pine flatwoods and sandhills. It typically blooms in late summer, although it can bloom year-round in southern climes. It attracts small bees and butterflies.
Baldwin’s eryngo (Eryngium baldwinii) is a deciduous perennial (sometimes biennial) wildflower with a prostrate, vine-like growth habit. You’ll rarely notice it as you drive along the highway, but it can form a large sprawling groundcover, providing a hazy, light blue understory to other wildflowers. It occurs naturally in wet hammocks and in disturbed areas such as moist roadsides. It typically blooms in summer, although it has been known to bloom as early as spring and into the fall. It attracts small bees and butterflies.
Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) is one of the smaller, more delicate native milkweeds. It is found in pinelands throughout much of Florida. When not in bloom, it is easily overlooked. Its narrow leaves blend in with the grasses among which the plant typically grows. Like all milkweeds, Whorled milkweed is a larval host plant for the Monarch butterfly. It flowers late spring through late summer/early fall, attracting a variety of pollinators.
Yellow colicroot (Aletris lutea) is a slender, short-lived perennial that produces long terminal spikes of yellow blooms. It occurs naturally in mesic pine flatwoods, wet prairies, open seepage areas and moist ruderal sites. It flowers in late winter/early spring through summer.
Pale meadow beauty (Rhexia mariana) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower with showy blooms that vary in color from white to pink. It occurs naturally in wet flatwoods, open savannas, marshes, bogs and wet roadsides. It flowers spring through fall and attracts many bees and butterflies.
Bumble bees are very efficient pollinators because they “buzz pollinate.” The bee grabs onto a flower and vibrates its flight muscles but not its wings. This causes the flower to release its pollen. It also creates an audible buzz at the frequency of a middle C note. The genus name Bombus comes from the Greek bombos, which means “buzzing sound.”
Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) is an erect, woody evergreen shrub that produces large (1-3 feet) terminal panicles of showy white flowers. It occurs naturally in sandhills, dry thickets, disturbed sites, and coastal strands, hammocks and grasslands. It flowers spring through fall and provides food and cover for a variety of wildlife and pollinators. The blooms are frequented for their nectar by hummingbirds and butterflies such as the Great southern white. Spanish bayonet is also the larval host plant for the Cofaqui giant skipper and yucca giant skipper butterflies.
Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) is a long-lived perennial shrub to small tree with fragrant white blooms. It occurs naturally in wet flatwoods, seep and bay swamps and along lake margins. It flowers late spring through summer after the leaves emerge. It is attractive to a variety of pollinators, including hummingbirds. Swamp azalea is Florida’s only white-flowered and summer-blooming rhododendron.
Dr. Alan Franck is curator of the University of South Florida Herbarium in Tampa, founded in 1958. It holds 285,000 specimens, and is the second largest collection in Florida. Alan has supported the Florida Wildflower Foundation through membership since 2011. To join Alan in supporting the Florida Wildflower Foundation as a member, click here. Tell…
Southern beeblossom (Oenothera simulans) is an erect herbaceous annual that occurs naturally along roadsides and in pinelands, open woods and sandy fields. It flowers spring through summer and attracts a wide range of small pollinators, including moths and bees. The pollen grains are held together by a threadlike substance and can only be collected by pollinators that are morphologically specialized. Its flowers open at night (hence the family name, evening primrose), so only pollinators that forage at night can pollinate them. Birds have been known to eat Southern beeblossom seeds.
Pricklypear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sandhills, coastal strands, ruderal sites and dry, open areas. It flowers in late spring and attracts a wide range of pollinators, especially native bees. The fleshy fruits and seeds are eaten by birds, small mammals and gopher tortoises (who also enjoy browsing the pads).
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is an evergreen, clump-forming wildflower found in wet flatwoods, wet prairies, and moist open habitats throughout Florida. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bumblebees, sweat bees, and other native bees and flies. Birds eat the seeds.
False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) is a densely branched woody shrub with a striking spring and summer floral display. It occurs naturally in alluvial forests, wet and coastal hammocks, cypress pond edges, and along stream and river banks. It attracts many pollinators and is the larval host plant for the silver-spotted skipper, Southern dogface and gray hairstreak butterflies.