Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) blooms in October and November and is a magnet for bees and butterflies. Its flowers are distinguishable from other Symphyotrichum species by their relatively large size (up to 2 inches in diameter) and deep violet-colored ray petals. In Florida, the plant occurs only in Leon County and is a state-listed threatened species. It is also found in a few counties in Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina. Habitat loss and fire suppression in its native pineland and savanna ecosystems have contributed significantly to its decline.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
The brilliant red flowers of Scarlet calamint (Calamintha coccinea) offer a dramatic contrast against the backdrop of scrub, sandhill and coastal dunes where the plant naturally occurs. The long, nectar-rich flowers are particularly attractive to hummingbirds and large butterflies. They bloom in abundance in early spring and late fall, but may flower sporadically throughout the year. In peak bloom, a single plant may produce 100 or more flowers.
October flower (Polygonum polygamum) is a subshrub found in sandhill, scrub and scrubby flatwoods throughout much of Florida. For most of the year, it is a rather understated plant. But in late summer and fall — particularly October — it is covered in a profusion of snowy white blooms. These small but prolific flowers are especially attractive to native bees.
Clustered bushmint (Hyptis alata) occurs naturally along pond and swamp margins, in moist roadside ditches, and in wet prairies and pinelands. It typically blooms spring through fall, but may bloom year-round. The small flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, wasps and occasionally hummingbirds. When crushed, the plant emits a musky fragrance, giving it another common name, Musky mint.
Joewood (Jacquinia keyensis) is an evergreen shrub found in coastal hammocks, strands and scrub in South Florida. It blooms year-round, peaking in summer and fall. The fragrant flowers are rich in nectar and attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Birds and other small wildlife savor the fruit and find cover in the plant’s dense foliage. Although common in its natural habitat, Joewood is a state-listed threatened species.
Florida tickseed (Coreopsis floridana) is one of 12 Coreopsis species native to Florida. It is endemic to the state and occurs naturally in wet pinelands and prairies, cypress swamp edges and roadside ditches. It typically blooms from late summer into early winter, but may bloom year-round. Its bright sunny flowers attract a variety of pollinators, especially butterflies.