BLOUNTSTOWN – It was a beautiful day in Calhoun County – blue skies, maple tree seed pods shining red – when about 70 people streamed in from 15 counties streamed into Rivertown Community Church. Drawn by their common passion for Florida’s wildflowers, they had came to learn more about fostering wildflowers along federal, state and…
Wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) is a low-growing, erect perennial wildflower that typically blooms in late spring through late summer/early fall. It occurs naturally in mesic hammocks, flatwoods and sandhills, and along roadsides and in disturbed sites. It is the host plant for the white peacock (Anartia jatrophae) and common buckeye (Junonia coenia) butterflies, but attracts a variety of pollinators.
Also known as Southern fleabane and Daisy fleabane, Oakleaf fleabane (Erigeron quercifolius) is a delicate, short-lived perennial wildflower. It typically blooms in spring and summer and attracts a variety of pollinators. It occurs naturally in sandhills and moist hammocks as well as in disturbed sites and along roadsides.
The beautiful yellow flowers of Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis) appear in spring in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and mixed upland forests, as well as along dry roadsides and in ruderal areas. They attract a variety of pollinators and are endemic to Florida.
Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum) occurs naturally in hydric hammocks, riverine forests, floodplain swamps and bottomland forests. Pollinators are attracted to its showy spring flowers, while birds and other wildlife feast on its abundant summer and fall fruit production and use its dense foliage for nesting and cover.
Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant that produces erect spikes of brilliant red blooms. It typically flowers in summer through early winter in floodplain forests, riverine swamps, spring runs and along river and stream edges. It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
Many of us are aware of the monarch’s population decline that has been well documented by researchers. Weather, habitat destruction of overwintering grounds in California and Mexico, and loss of food source on migration routes have caused great concern in the last few years. The Xerces Society’s insight into factors that influence monarch butterfly populations has pointed to many things we cannot control. However, the increased production and planting of the monarch food plants, milkweeds, is certainly an environmental movement that can be achieved on a large scale in the United States.
Florida Wildflower Foundation member Kay Yeuell was born in Orange County, and spent his childhood in Florida and Massachusetts. After graduating from Boston University, Yeuell ran a family manufacturing business in the Boston area for 25 years. When he retired in the mid-1980s, Yeuell moved back to Florida with his wife, Linda Lord.
Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) is an attractive perennial that produces leafless spikes of lavender to bluish, tubular flowers. Bees are its predominant pollinator, but it also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It typically flowers in late winter through late spring along woodland edges, in open areas and in disturbed sites.
Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata) is a woody, evergreen shrub that produces dense clusters of small, fragrant, whitish to lavender flowers. It occurs naturally along coastal strands, dunes, hammocks, and pinelands in coastal counties from Pinellas (on the west) and Brevard (on the east) south to Monroe and into the Keys.
Christmasberry (Lycium carolinianum) gets its common name from the bright red, egg-shaped berries that it produces in abundance in December. It has also been referred to as Carolina desert-thorn, which is a reference to the occasional thorns borne on its branches. The nectar of the flowers attracts a variety of butterflies and moths. The berries, while toxic to some animals, are a favorite food source for many birds. Christmasberry is a close relative of the Goji berry (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense).
Burr marigold (Bidens laevis) is an annual wildflower that grows en masse in wetlands and along river and marsh edges throughout Florida. Its bright yellow flowers appear in late fall through early winter and attract many bees and butterflies. Its seeds have two barb-like bristles on the end that stick to clothing, hair and animal fur.
Climbing aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum) is a robust vine-like shrub that produces many fragrant daisy-like blooms of lavender to pinkish or even bluish. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps and marshes, in coastal hammocks and wet pine flatwoods, and along riverbanks and lake edges, and is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.
Drumheads (Polygala cruciata) is a low-growing wildflower that blooms from late spring through fall. They occur naturally throughout most of Florida in wet pinelands, savannas and other open wetland habitats, as well as along marsh edges. The name Polygala comes from the Greek polys, meaning “many or much,” and gala, meaning “milk.” It is so-named because it was once believed that the presence of Polygala species in cow fields would result in higher milk production.
Garberia (Garberia heterophylla) is unlike most species in the Asteraceae family in that its growth habit is woody and shrubby rather than herbaceous. It is endemic to Florida’s north and central peninsula, and occurs naturally in scrub and xeric hammocks. It typically flowers in late fall but has been known to flower sparsely throughout the year. Garberia is a state-listed threatened species and is part of the Eupatorieae tribe, whose members produce flowers consisting of only disk and no ray florets. It is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.