Flatwoods plum (Prunus umbellata) is a deciduous large shrub to small tree found in hammocks and woodlands throughout North and Central Florida. It typically blooms in March, at which time the entire crown is covered in umbels of delightful white blooms that attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) is a dainty mat-forming vine with fuzzy white flowers. It is found on hardwood forest and mesic hammock floors and along seepage slopes in North and Central Florida. Its fragrant flowers typically bloom spring through fall, attracting a variety of insects, especially bumble bees. Its fruits are enjoyed by birds and small mammals. The fruits are edible to humans, too, and can be eaten raw or made into a jam, sauce or pie.
Southern twayblade (Neottia bifolia) is a small terrestrial orchid found in bogs, moist hardwood forests, swamps and marshes throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada. In Florida, it is a threatened species, having been documented in only 19 counties. It blooms primarily in January, but may bloom between December and March. It is often found growing among Cinnamon ferns, however, Southern twayblade’s camouflaging colors, short thin flowers and low stature make it difficult to spot. For this reason, the plant may have a greater distribution than documented.
Rabbitbells (Crotalaria rotundifolia) is a low-growing wildflower found in pinelands, sandhills and disturbed sandy areas throughout Florida. Its small yellow flowers bloom throughout the year, attracting mostly bees. The unassuming plant often goes unnoticed as its flowers do not open until the afternoon and remain open only for one day. Of the 15 species of Crotalaria that occur in Florida, only four are native. Rabbitbells is the most common and widespread of the native species.
Carolina cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum) is an annual native wildflower that occurs in lawns, urban gardens and disturbed areas throughout Florida. It is often considered a weed, but its winter- and spring-blooming flowers attract bees and other small pollinators. Birds eat the seeds and white-tailed deer may forage on the leaves. Humans can eat the leaves, too, but they can be very bitter and astringent. The root has been used historically to treat sore throats and diarrhea. Carolina cranesbill is Florida’s only native Geranium species.
Clamshell orchid (Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra) is a striking epiphytic orchid found in South Florida’s cypress swamps and hammocks.This state-listed endangered species blooms late fall through early spring, peaking in December. Blooms can last several months. The plant is believed to be self-pollinated in Florida as it has no known pollinators here. The plant has several common names, including Florida cockleshell orchid and Octopus orchid.