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 (Ascia monuste). Spanish bayonet is also the larval host plant for the cofaqui giant skipper (Megathymus cofaqui) and yucca giant skipper (Megathymus yuccae) butterflies.
Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscous) 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.
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).
Mock bishopsweed (Ptilimnium capillaceum) is a delicate little annual that is too often disregarded as a weed. But despite its small stature, it is both attractive and ecologically beneficial, especially when it occurs in mass. Its many dainty white flowers typically appear in spring and summer in swamps, marshes, coastal swales, ditches and along pond edges. Like most members of the Apiaceae family, mock bishopsweed has a long taproot, which helps the plants survive “hazards” such as drought and being eaten by black swallowtail caterpillars.
Blue-eyed grass’ low profile makes it an excellent groundcover choice. It is fairly adaptable to conditions of drought and partial shade, but planting in full sun and moist soil will result in denser foliage and more flowers.
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 (Epargyreus clarus), Southern dogface (Zerene cesonia), gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) butterflies.
White wild indigo (Baptista alba) is a long-lived perennial herbaceous wildflower with showy white blooms. It occurs naturally in pine flatwoods and along riverbanks and deciduous forest edges. It attracts many pollinators and is the larval host plant for the wild indigo duskywing and Zarucco duskywing butterflies. The fruits are eaten by a variety of birds, and the foliage is browsed by rabbits and deer. (The plant’s large tuberous roots allow it to withstand browsing.)
Also known as old man’s beard (or grancy graybeard in limited circles), fringetree is often overshadowed by dogwood, plum and other spring-flowering trees. But fringetree’s graceful tassled flowers put on an equally spectacular display. It occurs naturally in a variety of habitats including moist hammocks and sandy uplands. It attracts many pollinators, including bats, and is the larval host plant for several species of sphinx moths. Birds love the fruits.
Mountain laurel is an evergreen, perennial shrub to small tree that puts on a spectacular springtime display. It occurs naturally in slope forests, bluffs and along creeks, seep streams and swamp edges. It attracts bees and provides cover for birds and small mammals. Mountain laurel is a state-listed threatened species in Florida.
Lanceleaf tickseed is a perennial wildflower with conspicuously sunny blooms that typically appear in spring and sometimes into summer. It occurs naturally in moist sandhills, marshes, and along swamp edges. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and its seeds are commonly eaten by birds and small wildlife. Lanceleaf tickseed is one of 13 species of Coreopsis native to Florida. Coreopsis is Florida’s state wildflower.
Eastern redbud is a deciduous perennial tree that produces an abundance of striking magenta blooms. It typically flowers in March, at which time the entire crown of the tree will become covered in deep pink blooms. It occurs naturally in mesic hardwood hammocks. Eastern redbud depends on bees for pollination. Its leaves provide food for many caterpillars, including the io moth.
Black titi (pronounced tie-tie) is a perennial evergreen shrub to small tree. Its fragrant white-to-pinkish flowers typically bloom in spring. It occurs naturally in swamps, bogs, wet flatwoods and along stream edges. It is a wonderful attractor of pollinators — specifically honeybees who use its nectar and pollen to produce honey — and is also browsed by deer.
Also known as woodland phlox, wild blue phlox is a delicate perennial wildflower. Its beautiful blooms appear from spring into early summer in slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks. It is limited to four Panhandle counties in Florida, but is widespread throughout the United States. Many pollinators are attracted to the blooms, especially butterflies. Its roots are eaten by rabbits and other small mammals.