St. Andrew’s cross is an evergreen perennial shrub found in wet pine flatwoods, calcareous hammocks, floodplain forests and mixed woodlands throughout Florida. Bees and butterflies love its flowers while the foliage provides cover for birds and other small wildlife.
Weekly plant profile of Florida Favorites.
Shortleaf rose gentian (Sabatia brevifolia) is a herbaceous annual wildflower that occurs in moist to wet pine flatwoods, coastal swales and wet prairies throughout Florida. Its white, starlike flowers typically bloom in spring through fall, but may bloom in winter if temperatures are unseasonably warm. They primarily attract butterflies.
Titusville balm is a state-listed endangered wildflower endemic to Brevard County where it is restricted to an approximately 30-mile range. It blooms from October through December, attracting mostly small to medium-size bees. Although the plants are small, Titusville balm is a prolific bloomer and seeder, especially when exposed to fire. Individual plants typically live only three years, but the abundance of seeds helps ensure the species’ continuance.
Azure blue sage is a deciduous perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in flatwoods and sandhills. Its striking cerulean flowers bloom August through November, attracting a variety of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds.
Eastern silver aster (Symphyotrichum concolor) is a winsome wildflower found in Florida’s pineland habitats. It typically blooms in fall but may bloom in summer and early winter (or year-round in South Florida). Its many flowers provide nectar for a variety of butterflies.
Thistles have a bad reputation for their spiny personality, but these formidable wildflowers shine as favorite nectar and host plants for many bees and butterflies, including swallowtails. It is the larval host plant for the little metalmark and painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.
Pineland chaffhead (Carphephorus carnosus aka Litrisa carnosa) is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in wet pine flatwoods, savannas and seepage slopes. It typically blooms in late summer through early fall and attracts butterflies, moths and other pollinators. It is endemic to only 13 Central and South Florida counties.
Known also as Dense blazing star, Marsh blazing star and Spiked blazing star, Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) is an erect herbaceous perennial with striking spikes of purple flowers. It occurs naturally in mesic to wet flatwoods, seepage slopes, bogs, savannas and roadside ditches. It blooms in late summer through fall and is an excellent attractor of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
Florida yellow flax is a demure perennial wildflower found in sandhills and flatwoods throughout the state. It typically blooms summer through fall but may bloom year-round. It is attractive as a larval food to butterflies and moths, including the variegated fritillary.
Lanceleaf blanketflower is a short-lived perennial wildflower with compound, solitary blooms. It occurs naturally in sandhills and xeric flatwoods. It typically blooms in summer through early fall and attracts a variety of pollinators.
Saltmarsh morning glory is a trailing perennial vine found in Florida’s salt, floodplain and glade marshes, mangrove swamps and ruderal areas. Its showy blooms appear in summer and fall. The large nectaries and flowers attract many insects, but it is most visited by bees. Like other members of the Ipomoea genus, Saltmarsh morning glory blooms in the morning and begins to wilt and close up by afternoon, hence the common name “morning glory.”
Alligatorlily (Hymenocallis palmeri) is a perennial wildflower endemic to cypress swamps, marshes, wet prairies, savannas and moist open flatwoods in Florida’s central and southern peninsula. It also occurs in Duval and Bradford counties and is sometimes found in roadside ditches. Its striking white flowers are primarily pollinated by Sphinx moths.
Also known as Dixie aster, Whitetop aster (Sericocarpus tortifolius) is a perennial wildflower found in sandhills, pine flatwoods, upland mixed woodlands and forest margins throughout Florida. It blooms summer through fall and attracts many butterflies, bees and other pollinators.