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.”
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
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!
Climbing fetterbush (Pieris phyllyreifolia) is an evergreen vine-like shrub found in swamps, moist pinelands, upland mixed forests and sandhills in the Panhandle and several peninsular counties. It blooms fall through early spring. Its typical habit is to ascend the trunks of cypress trees by creeping under the fibrous bark, although it is not parasitic. Climbing fetterbush is the only vine-like member of the Ericaceae family found in the United States.
Goldenclub (Orontium aquaticum) is a peculiar perennial wildflower found in shallow swamps, streams and ponds throughout much of Florida. It blooms in winter and spring, and is pollinated primarily by bees, flies and beetles. It is the only living species in its genus. Other Orontium species are extinct.
Wiregrass gentian is a rare herbaceous wildflower endemic to only nine Panhandle counties where it occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, wet prairies and seepage slopes. It is a state-listed endangered species and one of only four species of Gentiana that occur in Florida. Wiregrass gentian typically blooms in winter but may bloom from October into May. It is pollinated primarily by bees. The plant is fire-adapted and will bloom profusely after a burn.
Walter’s aster (Symphyotrichum walteri) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower found in sandhills and pine flatwoods. It blooms in late fall and early winter, providing nectar and pollen to butterflies, bees and other pollinators at a time when floral resources are limited. The species epithet walteri is an homage to British botanist Thomas Walter (c. 1740–1789), author of Flora Caroliniana, the first North American flora resource to utilize the Linnean binomial taxonomic naming system.