Pine-pink (Bletia purpurea) is a state-threatened terrestrial orchid found in swamps, marshes, pinelands and pine rocklands in southern Florida. Its striking pink flowers bloom in winter, spring and early summer. Pine-pink flowers are a food-deceptive species. They do not contain nectar, but may attract bees and other insects with their conspicuous floral display. However, like many orchid species, Pine-pink is self-pollinating, and some of its flowers are cleistogamous, meaning the bud self-pollinates and never fully opens.
Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on March 7 for a field trip to Disney Wilderness Preserve. Volunteer and Outreach Specialist Hannah O’Malley will lead us on a swamp buggy tour through pine flatwoods, scrub, cypress swamps, and oak hammocks. You will learn the vital connection of Lake Russell to the Everglades. This preserve holds more than 1,000 plant and animal species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, crested caracara and a restored longleaf pine forest.
Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) is a deciduous shrub found in moist to wet pine flatwoods and along wetland and swamp margins. In late winter and spring, the plant is covered in a profusion of showy, sweet-scented blooms that attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees. In summer, flowers give way to a bounty of berries that persist well into fall. Although birds don’t care much for them, they may be eaten by deer, rabbits and other small mammals. Humans can eat them, too, but their taste is bitter and acidic. They are best made into jam, jelly, pie or wine. The fruits are high are in antioxidants.
Florida is home to hundreds of native plants that make great additions to gardens. The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s new book, “Native Plants for Florida Gardens,” takes the mystery out of using them in urban landscapes! Striking color photography showcases 100 species of wildflowers, vines, grasses, shrubs and trees. At-a-glance keys make it easy to determine bloom color, blooming seasons, and light and moisture requirements. Easy-to-read text provides details for success, including native range, care and site conditions.
Florida loosestrife (Lythrum flagellare) is a state-listed endangered wildflower endemic to the west-central peninsula. This low-growing, creeping wildflower can be found along wet prairie edges, pond margins and moist roadsides. It typically blooms from February through June but is often overlooked because of its diminutive stature and tendency to blend in with the plants among which it grows.
Wild garlic (Allium canadense var. canadense) is a grasslike perennial with lovely clusters of flowers. It blooms primarily in late winter and spring and attracts many insects, including moths and native bees; honeybees tend to dislike it. Wild garlic has a strong, tell-tale smell of garlic or onion. All parts of the plant are edible and may be prepared the same as garlic or onions. Bulbs may be eaten raw, sautéed, pickled or roasted. Use the young leaves as you would chives.
As massive wildfires spread across Australia, even astronauts on the International Space Station can’t miss the inferno. So, fire is very bad, right? Not necessarily. Fire, large or small, is a natural, chemical process. It’s shaped this planet’s diverse ecosystems for eons, supporting unique vegetation and the wildlife it feeds. Many of Florida’s ecosystems thrive on managed fire.
Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on Feb. 15 for a field trip to Smyrna Dunes Park. Environmental scientist and instructor David Griffis will lead us in exploring five different ecosystems in the park. You can expect to see a variety of vegetation and wildlife, including shorebirds, seabirds and songbirds. The park offers dune, scrub and saltwater marsh habitats, bordered by the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean.
Sea lavender (Heliotropium gnaphalodes) is an evergreen shrub found in dunes and thickets on the Atlantic coast of Central and South Florida. This state-listed endangered species typically blooms in fall and winter, but may bloom year-round. Its small but showy flowers emit a subtly sweet scent and attract many pollinators, especially butterflies. The common name “lavender” likely refers to the plant’s resemblance to true lavender or rosemary. Sea lavender’s leaves have no noticeable scent.
Small butterwort (Pinguicula pumila) is a diminutive, insectivorous wildflower found in wet pinelands and prairies throughout most of Florida. It blooms winter through spring. The genus name Pinguicula comes from the Latin pinguis, meaning “fat.” It alludes to the viscous or greasy feeling of the leaf surface. The species epithet pumila is from the Latin pumilus, or “dwarf.”
Netted pawpaw (Asimina reticulata) is a deciduous flowering shrub found in pine and scrubby flatwoods, sandhills and coastal scrub habitats throughout peninsular Florida. It blooms late winter through spring, producing many flowers that attract a wide variety of butterflies. The plant is a larval host for the Zebra swallowtail and Pawpaw sphinx moth. The fruits, which appear in spring and summer, are a favorite of birds and small mammals. Humans can eat them, too* — if one can find a ripe one before the animals do!
Florida Wildflower Foundation grant will expand Natives For Your Neighborhood website resources to include Central Florida.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) has received a $11,305 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation that will help build pollinator pathways along roadsides in Florida’s Big Bend region. A roadside survey will begin in April 2020 to locate populations of native wildflowers and grasses that can be maintained as corridors of pollinator habitat.
Podduturu M. (P.M.) and Vijaya Reddy have been active members of the Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) since 2017. Frequently attending field trips and other events, P.M. additionally volunteered at our 2019 Florida Wildflower Symposium in Gainesville, photographing workshops and activities during the weekend. Vijaya and P.M. use FWF resources to talk to their local community of Palm Coast about the importance of native wildflowers.