No matter what you call it — beggar’s tick, Spanish needle, monkey’s lice — Bidens alba is likely the most underappreciated of all Florida’s native wildflower. It is often considered a weed because it reproduces so prolifically, but it is a great native wildflower for attracting pollinators. In Florida, it is the third most common source of nectar for honey production. Its young leaves and flowers are edible.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Also known as Lanceleaf violet, Bog white violet (Viola lanceolata) is a diminutive perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in bogs and along the edges of ponds, marshes and other wetlands. It blooms in early winter through summer, but may bloom year-round. Its sweetly scented flowers attract bees and butterflies, while its seeds are enjoyed by various birds and small mammals.
Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is a robust, herbaceous perennial wildflower that bears clusters of white flowers with noticeably contrasting purplish-black anthers. It typically flowers late summer through fall along moist forest and hammock edges throughout the state. It is attractive to many bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) is an evergreen, twining vine and is endangered in Florida. It occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and along wetlands in South Florida, attracting a variety of pollinators, including the nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis), tantalus sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) and tersa sphinx (Xylophanes tersa) moths, which pollinate the flowers at dusk.
Hammock snakeroot (Ageratina jucunda) is a low-growing shrub found in pine flatwoods, sandhills, hammocks, upland mixed woodlands, and along roadsides and stream banks throughout Florida’s peninsula and Eastern Panhandle. It blooms in late summer through early winter (typically September through January), attracting a variety of butterflies, including hairstreaks, Julias, skippers and crescents. Bees and hummingbirds like it, too, but the plant is poisonous to both humans and livestock if ingested.
Stokes’ aster (Stokesia leavis) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower native to only nine counties in Florida (but more common throughout the Southeast). It occurs naturally in savannas, flatwoods, roadside depressions and pitcherplant bog margins. Flowers typically bloom in spring and summer, but may bloom throughout the year, attracting a variety of bees, wasps and butterflies.