Bluestem pricklypoppy (Argemone albiflora) is a formidable flower often spotted in open, disturbed sites and along roadsides throughout much of Florida. Its large white flowers are eye-catching from a distance, but a closer look reveals this plant’s dynamic defense mechanism — sharp spines cover its leaves and stems, discouraging cattle and other hungry critters from grazing on it. The plant blooms late spring through summer and attracts a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Its oil-rich seeds are eaten by quail and doves.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Jamaican caper (Quadrella jamaicensis) is a handsome evergreen shrub or small tree with unique eye-catching blooms. These fragrant white flowers open late in the day and turn pinkish within a few hours. They attract a variety of insects, while the dense foliage provides cover for small wildlife. Birds will eat the seeds. Jamaican caper is a larval host for the Florida white butterfly. It is found in coastal hammocks in Central and South Florida.
Swamp rose (Rosa palustris) is a deciduous flowering shrub found along river and stream banks and in floodplain swamps, freshwater marshes and wet ditches. Its bright pink flowers bloom in late spring through early summer and attract a variety of pollinators — especially native bees. Its fruits, which may persist through winter, are consumed by birds and small mammals.
Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea) is a short but showy wildflower found in bogs, savannas, pine flatwoods and roadside ditches throughout Florida. It typically blooms March through November, but can bloom year-round. Its flowers are self-pollinating. Its seeds are spread almost exclusively by ants.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) is an erect, herbaceous perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in floodplain swamps, marshes and wet ditches, and along riverbanks. It typically blooms in late spring through early fall and attracts many pollinators. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, it is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. The plant contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals, but Monarch, Queen and Soldier caterpillars are adapted to feed on them despite the chemical defense. The flowers are an important nectar source for native bees, wasps and butterflies.