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.

carphephorus_carnosus

Flower Friday: Pineland chaffhead

Pineland chaffhead (Carphephorus carnosus aka Litrisa carnosa) is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in wet pine flatwoods, savannas and seepage slopes. It typically blooms in late summer through early fall and attracts butterflies, moths and other pollinators. It is endemic to only 13 Central and South Florida counties.

liatris-heartwood-preserve

Nov. 18 Field trip to Heartwood Preserve

Heartwood Preserve is the first conservation cemetery within a nature preserve in the Tampa Bay area. Join us on this unique opportunity to learn about the efforts to conserve and permanently protect this endangered natural habitat through environmentally friendly burial options. Visit longleaf pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands. Learn the land’s history and management, the importance of fire ecology and the process of conservation burial. 

liatris spicata palamedes swallowtail

Flower Friday: Dense gayfeather

Known also as Dense blazing star, Marsh blazing star and Spiked blazing star, Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) is an erect herbaceous perennial with striking spikes of purple flowers. It occurs naturally in mesic to wet flatwoods, seepage slopes, bogs, savannas and roadside ditches. It blooms in late summer through fall and is an excellent attractor of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.

When wildflowers blow in the wind

As summer progresses many of our fall-blooming wildflowers become tall and stately, forming backdrops and filling fence rows as they reach peak bloom from September through December. But this also is when storms increase, bringing intense waves of wind and rain. And there are always those unpredictable hurricanes. Here’s how one wildflower garden survived Hurricane  Irma’s big blow and steps you can take to hopefully rescue your own plantings.

ipomoea_sagittata

Flower Friday: Saltmarsh morning glory

Saltmarsh morning glory is a trailing perennial vine found in Florida’s salt, floodplain and glade marshes, mangrove swamps and ruderal areas. Its showy blooms appear in summer and fall. The large nectaries and flowers attract many insects, but it is most visited by bees. Like other members of the Ipomoea genus, Saltmarsh morning glory blooms in the morning and begins to wilt and close up by afternoon, hence the common name “morning glory.”

Hymenocallis palmeri by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Alligatorlily

Alligatorlily (Hymenocallis palmeri) is a perennial wildflower endemic to cypress swamps, marshes, wet prairies, savannas and moist open flatwoods in Florida’s central and southern peninsula. It also occurs in Duval and Bradford counties and is sometimes found in roadside ditches. Its striking white flowers are primarily pollinated by Sphinx moths.