It’s not a garden, it’s a habitat

Ecologists estimate that only 3 to 4 percent of land in the United States has been undisturbed by human activity. That’s why providing habitat — food, shelter and nesting areas for wildlife — within sustainable urban landscapes should be an important goal for everyone.

We can’t create a perfect natural habitat for each species. However, we can make a difference by using Florida’s native wildflowers and plants. Learn how!

shortleaf rosegentian sabatia brevifolia

Flower Friday: Shortleaf rosegentian

Shortleaf rose gentian (Sabatia brevifolia) is a herbaceous annual wildflower that occurs in moist to wet pine flatwoods, coastal swales and wet prairies throughout Florida. Its white, starlike flowers typically bloom in spring through fall, but may bloom in winter if temperatures are unseasonably warm. They primarily attract butterflies.

dicerandra_thinicola

Flower Friday: Titusville balm

Titusville balm is a state-listed endangered wildflower endemic to Brevard County where it is restricted to an approximately 30-mile range. It blooms from October through December, attracting mostly small to medium-size bees. Although the plants are small, Titusville balm is a prolific bloomer and seeder, especially when exposed to fire. Individual plants typically live only three years, but the abundance of seeds helps ensure the species’ continuance.

ONF Christmas tree cutting

Dec. 3 Field trip Christmas tree cutting in Ocala Nat’l Forest

Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on Dec. 3 for a fun, family-friendly day in the forest. Forest Service biologist Jay Garcia will introduce us to the Ocala National Forest. Learn how the scrub habitat is being managed and restored. Find out why the Forest Service is allowing people to cut down trees and how it fits into their management plan. Then we’ll caravan to the Christmas tree cutting site, where everyone with a permit will have the opportunity to pick out and cut down their very own fresh-from-Florida sand pine.

Luis Andres Ochoa

Student spotlight: Luis Andres Ochoa

The Florida Wildflower Foundation provides scholarships for master’s students studying wildflowers within the University of Florida’s Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Consortium of the Department of Environmental Horticulture in Gainesville. Scholarship students are advised by Dr. Hector Perez, associate professor. Luis Andres Ochoa studies Sand flax (Linum arenicola), a perennial with a small yellow flower and grasslike leaves endemic to South Florida and listed as an endangered species.

Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Purple thistle

Thistles have a bad reputation for their spiny personality, but these formidable wildflowers shine as favorite nectar and host plants for many bees and butterflies, including swallowtails. It is the larval host plant for the little metalmark and painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.

Grant to fund classroom activity kits

Thanks to a $7,000 grant from Duke Energy, Central Florida students soon will be learning about the natural world through Wild About Wildflowers! Activity Kits. Through the kits, more than 3,000 third- and fourth-graders will learn about native wildflowers, their ecosystems, and their environmental significance while achieving Florida education standards.