Florida betony (Stachys floridana) often gets a bad rap because it spreads so prolifically, especially in moist turf lawns. But it is a wonderful native wildflower for attracting bees and butterflies, and is also almost entirely edible to humans.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Florida scrub roseling (Callisia ornata) is a beautiful and delicate wildflower endemic to Florida, where it occurs in sandhill and scrub habitats. It typically blooms spring through fall and attracts a variety of pollinators — especially bees. A member of the dayflower family, the plant is a close relative of (and its blooms look very similar to) Tradescantia and Commelina species. And like these species, the Florida scrub roseling flower is ephemeral, meaning it opens in the morning and closes by early afternoon.
Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) is a flowering shrub to small tree found in hammocks and woodlands throughout much of Florida. It is the larval host for the Striped hairstreak and Henry’s elfin butterflies. In spring, its many small but fragrant flowers attract a variety of pollinators — especially native bees. Berries appear in late summer and may remain on the plant well into winter, providing food for birds and other wildlife. Humans can eat them, too, but their bland to bitter flavor makes them a better component of pies and jellies than a trailside nibble.
Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) is a deciduous flowering shrub found in hardwood, floodplain and slope forests, bluffs and ravines in North Florida. Although easily overlooked most of the year, it puts on a stunning spring display of fragrant fiery flowers. The blooms appear before (or as) the plant leafs out, and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. The plant is a state-listed endangered species.
Inkwood (Exothea paniculata) occurs naturally in coastal hammocks, rocklands and shell mounds in coastal Central and South Florida. It is an excellent ornamental option for residential and commercial landscapes. Its dense, evergreen foliage is attractive year-round and offers cover for birds and other wildlife. Its fragrant flowers bloom late winter into summer, peaking in spring. They attract a variety of pollinators. The abundant fruit (produced on female trees) provides a tasty treat for birds in late spring and summer.
Dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa) is a low-growing colonial shrub found in pine savannas, flatwoods, sandhills and scrub throughout much of Florida. The plant is a larval host for the woodland elfin butterfly. Its spring flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially native and honey bees, and its juicy summer fruits are a delight for birds, small mammals and humans! Try them raw or make them into a jam or pie filling.