Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida) is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. It typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round, and occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. Its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Rose-rush (Lygodesmia aphylla) is a striking perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in sandy flatwoods, scrub, sandhills and pine barrens throughout most of Florida. It is near-endemic, occurring outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties. It blooms spring through summer; in South Florida, it may bloom into fall. Like other asters, it attracts a variety of pollinators.
Dainty, ground-hugging, perennial, flowering and edible are just a few descriptions for Florida’s common blue violet (Viola sororia). This plant is aptly named as it is the violet that is most common throughout Florida and is often seen in cultivated lawns. It grows in clumps, forming a thick groundcover that will never need to be mowed. They are prolific self-seeders, as well. When grown in the right conditions, violets flower from spring through the summer months.
Blueflower butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea) is an insectivorous wildflower that typically blooms between January and May. It occurs naturally in bogs and low pinelands throughout much of the Florida peninsula. It is a state-threatened species and is susceptible to drought conditions, drainage, habitat loss and illegal collection.
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) is a deciduous understory shrub or small tree with showy clusters of red, tubular flowers that appear in late winter through spring. It is one of the first of the red tubular flowering plants to bloom each year, and is an important food source for returning hummingbirds and butterflies.
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.