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.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Fringed bluestar 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.
Also known as Beach verbena, Coastal mock vervain is a short-lived perennial wildflower endemic primarily to Florida’s east coast. It is a state-listed endangered species. It blooms year-round, although the most prolific flowering occurs in spring and summer. Beach verbena flowers are a good nectar source for a variety of butterflies and moths, including Gulf fritillaries, hawkmoths and Long-tailed skippers. They are also attractive to miner bees and long-tongued bees such as bumble and orchid bees.
Also known as Golden canna or Yellow canna, Bandanna-of-the-Everglades (Canna flaccida) is a robust aquatic wildflower with large, showy orchid-like blooms. It occurs naturally in freshwater marshes and swamps, and along pond and lake margins throughout much of Florida. It is the larval host for the Brazilian skipper; dragonfly larvae have been know to hide in the leaves until they change into adults. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flower’s nectar.
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a woody shrub found in pinelands and hammocks throughout Florida. The plant’s foliage offers cover for small wildlife. Its flowers are a nectar source for butterflies and bees, while its dense clusters of berries provide food for birds and deer in late summer and fall.
Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) is an evergreen shrub that occurs naturally in coastal, hydric, mesic and rockland hammocks throughout Florida’s peninsula. Its flowers typically bloom in spring and summer, but may bloom year-round. They are attractive to a variety of pollinators, especially Atala and Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies. The plant’s fruits are a favorite of many birds and small wildlife. Humans can eat the berries, as well, but they are rather bland.