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.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
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.
Feay’s palafox (Palafoxiafeayi) is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray florets; and its disk florets are tubular.
Also known as Golden creeper and Coughbush, Beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis) is an evergreen low-growing, mat-forming shrub found on dunes, beaches and coastal hammock edges throughout Central and South Florida. It produces flowers and fruits year-round. The nectar attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, while the berries provide food for birds and small wildlife.