St. Andrew’s cross (Hypericum hypericoides) is an evergreen perennial shrub found in wet pine flatwoods, calcareous hammocks, floodplain forests and mixed woodlands throughout Florida. Bees and butterflies love its flowers while the foliage provides cover for birds and other small wildlife.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Shortleaf rose gentian (Sabatia brevifolia) is a herbaceous annual wildflower that occurs in moist to wet pine flatwoods, coastal swales and wet prairies throughout Florida. Its white, starlike flowers typically bloom in spring through fall, but may bloom in winter if temperatures are unseasonably warm. They primarily attract butterflies.
Titusville balm (Dicerandra thinicola) is a state-listed endangered wildflower endemic to Brevard County where it is restricted to an approximately 30-mile range. It blooms from October through December, attracting mostly small to medium-size bees. Although the plants are small, Titusville balm is a prolific bloomer and seeder, especially when exposed to fire. Individual plants typically live only three years, but the abundance of seeds helps ensure the species’ continuance.
Eastern silver aster (Symphyotrichum concolor) is a winsome wildflower found in Florida’s pineland habitats. It typically blooms in fall but may bloom in summer and early winter (or year-round in South Florida). Its many flowers provide nectar for a variety of butterflies.
Thistles have a bad reputation for their spiny personality, but these formidable wildflowers shine as favorite nectar and host plants for many bees and butterflies, including swallowtails. Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum) is the larval host plant for the little metalmark and painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.