With stay-at-home orders in mind, we present three picks from our staff’s bookshelves, guaranteed to provide pleasant hours of solace immersed in nature.
Bees and butterflies are not our only important pollinators. Hummingbirds play an essential role in dispersing pollen as well. The ruby-throated hummingbird, the most commonly found hummingbird in the eastern United States, is attracted to orange or red tubular flowers.
Look for spring’s wildflower displays in wet areas and ditches, thanks to the heat. Dry-adapted wildflowers also may do well. Read our Bloom Report to find out more about what to expect.
Also known as Yellow pricklypoppy, Mexican pricklypoppy (Argemone mexicana) is an eye-catching wildflower with an imposing presence. Its brilliant blooms are quite attractive, but don’t get too close — the rest of the plant is armed with sharp spines. It blooms winter through summer, typically peaking in early spring and drawing a variety of pollinators. The plant is often spotted in open, disturbed sites and along roadsides throughout much of Florida.
Phenology, nature’s calendar for matching plant maturity and animal needs, is ideal when plants are blooming and providing vegetative habitat and food for insects, birds and other animals in the right place and at the right time. Here’s what you can do when nature’s timing is off.
Nature, like a machine, has processes that keep the system running smoothly. But when there’s a mismatch between such things as flower bloom time and insect emergence, that machine ceases to function correctly.
According to the National Phenology Network (NPN), spring arrived about three weeks early in much of the southeastern United States, with the first tiny leaves and flower buds appearing notably earlier than usual in North Florida and, to a lesser degree, Central Florida.
To everything there is a season, but what if those seasons aren’t quite as predictable as they once were? Anecdotal and scientific information increasingly show changes in when plants are blooming, fruiting and going to seed. And that can spell trouble.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s popular Seedlings for Schools grants program is open for applications through June 15. Pre-K-12 teachers at public and private Florida schools may apply for a grant, which includes $50 worth of Florida native wildflower plants.
Green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower found in pinelands, pine rocklands and disturbed areas in a few Florida counties. It flowers winter through summer, with peak blooms in spring. Like many members of the milkweed family, Green antelopehorn is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. Their caterpillars have adapted to feed on the plant, which contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals. The flowers are also an important nectar source for bees and wasps.
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is a rare perennial wildflower that occurs throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. In Florida, it occurs naturally only in open fields and woodland edges of Jackson and Leon counties. The plant is a larval host for the Gray hairstreak butterfly. Its spring flowers attract bees and butterflies, while its tiny summer fruits are a treat for humans and wildlife. They can be eaten right off the plant or collected and made into jams, jellies or pies. The leaves, which are high in Vitamin C, can be brewed into a tea.
Though Florida’s native plants have evolved here over thousands of years, they are often little-known to the state’s gardening enthusiasts. Native Plants for Florida Gardens (Pineapple Press, $21.95), a colorful new book from the Florida Wildflower Foundation, seeks to change that by providing practical, easy-to-use information on the selection, landscape use and care of 100 native wildflowers, shrubs, vines and trees.
Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on April 18 for a members-only field trip to Green Isle Gardens nursery in Groveland. Owner Marc Godts will give us a tour of the nursery’s greenhouses and demonstrate how he grows plants from seed. With 150 species of plants to choose from, you will want to bring your native plant must-have list!
Kim and Peter Connolly have been active members of the Florida Wildflower Foundation and have attended various Foundation field trips and events for the past three years.They are both Florida Master Naturalists, with Peter serving his third year on the board of the Space Coast Chapter. Their free time is spent documenting local flora and fauna for iNaturalist. To date, they have added 907 observations of unique species to the site.
Toothpetal false reinorchid (Habenaria floribunda) is one of Florida’s most common terrestrial orchids. It is found in swamps and hardwood forests throughout most of peninsular Florida and typically blooms fall through winter. The semi-showy flowers are aromatic, emitting either a sweet fragrance or an unpleasant odor, depending on who you ask.