Fall color hard to find in Florida? Not if you travel along rural roads. Now is the time to be looking for wildflowers throughout the state. Fall wildflowers are in full bloom, with the best places to find them being open areas without homes or businesses. Those areas, including woodland edges, provide the bright light that many species of native wildflowers thrive in. And rural areas are better than urban environments for two reasons – more natural stands of wildflowers, and expectations for manicured landscapes are lower.
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The Florida Wildflower Foundation defines “Florida native wildflower” as any flowering herbaceous species, or woody species with ornamental flowers, which grew wild within the state’s natural ecosystems in the 1560s when Florida’s first botanical records were created.
While the threatened tortoise is famous for bunking 400 animals at various turns and times of year in his burrow, his boon to native plant survival is also real. Hearing biologists and land managers in our gopher tortoise advisory group and hosting torts on my own land, I’m convinced that the oral health, beauty and variety in our pinelands tie to whether Gopherus polyphemus lives or dies.
Florida’s flora includes more than 4,100 kinds of spontaneous occurring plants, including 2,800 plants native to the state. When most people refer to wildflowers, they include true Florida native herbaceous species as well as naturalized flowering species and non-native garden species that have escaped into the wild.
Florida’s flora includes more than 4,100 kinds of spontaneous occurring plants. Of those, 2,800 are considered true Florida natives. A true Florida native plant is a plant species whose natural range included Florida prior to European contact according to the best available scientific and historical documentation (about 1500AD).