Also known as Twinberry, Simpson’s stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that occurs naturally in coastal strands and hammocks. Its year-round blooms attract a variety of butterflies and bees; its fruit provides food for many species of bird. The sweet flesh of the fruit is edible to humans, but eating the bitter seeds is not recommended.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Yellow necklacepod (Sophora tomentosa var. truncata) is a long-lived flowering shrub that occurs naturally in coastal strands, hammocks and dunes throughout Central and South Florida. The flowers, which bloom year-round, attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other small birds. The plant provides food and cover for a variety of wildlife.
Chapman’s wild sensitive plant (Senna mexicana var. chapmanii) is a robust evergreen perennial that occurs in pine rocklands, coastal stands and along hammock edges in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Due to its limited natural range, it is a state-listed threatened species. Its many flowers are visited by a variety of bees for their pollen and nectar. Butterflies such as the Sleepy orange, Little yellow, and Cloudless, Orange-barred and Statira sulphurs are also frequent visitors. All members of the Senna genus are larval host plants for Sulphur caterpillars.
White indigoberry (Randia aculeata) is an evergreen flowering shrub or small tree found in pine rocklands and coastal strands and hammocks in Central and South Florida. Its fragrant flowers bloom year-round, attracting a variety of butterflies, including Schaus’ swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus). Its pulpy fruit provides food for many birds. The plant is the larval host plant for the Tantalus sphinx moth (Aellopus tantalus).
Elliott’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii) is a perennial bunchgrass that occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills, prairies and disturbed sites throughout Florida. Its delicate little flowers appear in such abundance that they cover the plant in a billowy beige haze. It typically blooms in fall, but may produce flowers in summer or even year-round. Its seeds are tiny yet prolific, providing plenty of food for invertebrates and small birds, which use the plant’s dense foliage for cover, as well.
Button rattlesnakemaster (Eryngium yuccifolium) is a peculiar perennial wildflower that occurs in flatwoods, sandhills, savannas and marshes throughout Florida. Its flowers bloom in late spring through fall. They are frequented by a variety of pollinators, but are of special value to native bees. The plant attracts many predatory and parasitoid insects that prey on garden pests. It also attracts bats. The common name rattlesnakemaster (also known as snakeroot) may have come from its use by Native Americans as an antidote for rattlesnake venom.