Also known as Florida spiny pod, Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana) is a deciduous twining vine that occurs naturally in sandhills, woodlands and other open habitats. Its small flowers bloom in late spring and summer. They are pollinated mostly by beetles. The plant is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies and is a state-listed endangered species.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Softhair coneflower (Rudbeckia mollis) is a robust plant with bright yellow blooms that provide late spring and summer color to sandhills, dry open hammocks and roadsides in North and Central Florida. Butterflies and Halictid bees nectar on the flowers, while small birds enjoy eating the seeds. Use it in a mixed wildflower planting or in the back of a planting where its height can be appreciated. It is drought tolerant and requires little to no maintenance once established. It does not tolerate prolonged shade. Although the plant typically perishes after it blooms, it is a prolific self-seeder and can produce many seedlings.
Woodland poppymallow (Callirhoe papaver) is one of our most unique native wildflowers, with large, cuplike blooms ranging from bright magenta to wine red. These striking flowers attract a variety of bees, which are the primary pollinator. The plant is the larval host of the Checkered skipper. Woodland poppymallow is endangered in Florida, occurring naturally in upland mixed forests and dry hammocks in only four counties.
Spanish stopper (Eugenia foetida) is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to coastal hardwood hammocks and thickets in Central and South Florida. Its semi-showy flowers bloom year-round, with peak blooming in spring and summer, attracting many types of pollinators. Its dense foliage provides cover and its abundant fruit provides food for birds and other small animals.
Helmet skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia) is a diminutive yet showy wildflower that occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods and upland mixed forests, as well as along marsh and swamp edges. It typically blooms in late spring and summer, attracting a wide range of bees, including leafcutter, cuckoo and bumble bees. A few butterflies, such as the Gulf fritillary, Spicebush swallowtail and Eastern black swallowtail, sporadically visit the flower.
Fringed bluestar (Amsonia ciliata) occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, sandhills and scrub throughout west Central Florida and North Florida. It blooms spring through fall, attracting a variety of pollinators, especially butterflies. Despite being in the same family as milkweed, the plant is not a known larval host for Monarchs or other milkweed butterflies.