Feay’s prairieclover (Dalea feayi) is a near-endemic shrub found in sandhills and scrubby habitats of peninsular Florida. In late spring through early fall, the plant may be covered in hundreds of fluffy pink flower balls. These delightful blooms attract a variety of pollinators, especially native bees. Butterflies are not known to frequent the flowers, but the plant is a larval host for the Southern dogface. The seeds are eaten by birds and other wildlife.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Hairy laurel (Kalmia hirsuta) is a low-growing, evergreen shrub that is easy to miss when not in bloom. But in spring and summer, it forms colonies of rose-colored flowers in moist, open habitats. Its distinctive, fragrant blooms attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees. It occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, savannas, sandhills and moist ditches in North Florida.
Groundnut (Apios americana) is an herbaceous vine found along the edges of floodplain forests, wet hammocks, lakes or streams, and in wet, disturbed areas throughout much of the state. Blooming late spring through fall, the fragrant flowers are primarily pollinated by mason or leafcutter bees (Megachilidae family), although some suggest they are also fly-pollinated. The plant is a larval host for the Silver-spotted skipper.
Loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) is an attractive evergreen tree found in swamps, bayheads and cypress domes throughout much of Florida. Its fragrant showy flowers bloom spring through summer and attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, flies and even the occasional hummingbird. Birds and other small animals find cover in the dense foliage. The tree is often confused with Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), which also has large white flowers and occurs in the same habitat.
Bluestem pricklypoppy (Argemone albiflora) is a formidable flower often spotted in open, disturbed sites and along roadsides throughout much of Florida. Its large white flowers are eye-catching from a distance, but a closer look reveals this plant’s dynamic defense mechanism — sharp spines cover its leaves and stems, discouraging cattle and other hungry critters from grazing on it. The plant blooms late spring through summer and attracts a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Its oil-rich seeds are eaten by quail and doves.
Jamaican caper (Quadrella jamaicensis) is a handsome evergreen shrub or small tree with unique eye-catching blooms. These fragrant white flowers open late in the day and turn pinkish within a few hours. They attract a variety of insects, while the dense foliage provides cover for small wildlife. Birds will eat the seeds. Jamaican caper is a larval host for the Florida white butterfly. It is found in coastal hammocks in Central and South Florida.