Encyclia tampensis by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Butterfly orchid

Butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis) is a slow-growing epiphyte found in mesic hammocks, hardwood swamps and mangrove forests. It is most commonly found growing on live oaks, but also occurs on bald cypress, mangroves and pond apples. Its diminutive yet showy flowers appear in late spring and summer; their honey-like fragrance attracts a variety of bees, which are the plant’s primary pollinators.

Pluchea odorata by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Sweetscent

Known by many names such as Camphorweed, Stinkweed, Salt marsh fleabane, Sourbush and Cattle-tongue, Sweetscent (Pluchea odorata ) is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in freshwater and salt marshes, swamps and coastal hammocks throughout Florida. Its rosy pink blooms appear summer through fall. Its sweet-smelling leaves and flowers are very attractive to butterflies. Bees love this plant, too.

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Flower Friday: Giant ironweed

Giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is a robust, perennial #wildflower that is perfect for butterfly and wildflower gardens. It is a member of the Aster family, but unlike most of its cousins, its flowers have only disc florets — no ray florets are present. Flowering occurs in summer and fall, with peak blooming in July, when it attracts many pollinators, particularly butterflies.

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Flower Friday: American bluehearts

American bluehearts (Buchnera americana) is a perennial #wildflower found in pinelands, prairies and marshes, and along roadsides throughout the state. Its bright violet to almost white blooms attract bees and butterflies, and its tiny seed capsules are eaten by birds. It also has a habit of hemiparasitism.

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Flower Friday: Fringed meadowbeauty

Fringed meadowbeauty is an herbaceous perennial wildflower with showy pink blooms. It occurs naturally in wet prairies, bogs and flatwoods, and along coastal swales. It flowers spring through summer and attracts many pollinators, especially bees. Want an easy way to identify a meadowbeauty? Just look for the urn-shaped hypanthium. What’s that mean? Read our blog to find out!

Whitemouth dayflower (Commelina erecta) by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Whitemouth dayflower

Whitemouth dayflower (Commelina erect) is an erect ephemeral wildflower found in pinelands, coastal uplands and scrub habitats. It generally blooms in summer and fall, but is known to bloom year-round in South Florida. Blooms attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Seeds are eaten by birds, and the foliage is sometimes consumed by gopher tortoises. The plant is also edible to humans. The flowers can be eaten raw or candied. Leaves are best cooked (boiled or fried), but the young shoots and tips can be eaten raw.

Pinewoods milkweed (Asclepias humistrata) by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Pinewoods milkweed

Also known as sandhill or purple milkweed, pinewoods milkweed (Asclepias humistrata) is a robust perennial #wildflower with umbels of distinct pinkish-white to pale purple flowers. Its large leaves are thick and dull grayish-green with conspicuous pink to lavender veins. Pinewoods milkweed occurs naturally in sandhills, scrub and dry, ruderal areas. It blooms in spring and summer, attracting many pollinators including wasps and butterflies, and is the larval host plant of monarch and queen butterflies.

Shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites) by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Shiny blueberry

Shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites) is a low evergreen shrub that flowers heavily in the spring. It occurs naturally in mesic pine flatwoods, sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, dry prairies and scrub habitats. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators. The fruits are consumed by birds and other wildlife – humans enjoy them, too!

Swamp tickseed (Coreopsis nudata) by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Swamp tickseed

Swamp tickseed is a short-lived perennial with charming pink and yellow blooms. It occurs naturally in wet prairies, bogs, seepage slopes, wet flatwoods and roadside ditches. It blooms in spring (typically April and May) and is attractive to bees, although butterflies and other pollinators are known to visit them. Birds eat its seeds. Swamp tickseed is often confused with the non-native Cosmos bipinnatus.

Parsley haw (Crataegus marshallii). Photo by Chris M. Morris (Creative Commons: CC BY 2.0)

Flower Friday: Parsley haw

Parsley haw (Crataegus marshallii) is a deciduous flowering shrub or small tree. It occurs naturally in moist wooded slopes, floodplains and riverine forests in the Panhandle and north and west-central peninsula. Its flowers, which bloom in the spring, are an important source of nectar for a variety of pollinators. The plant is a larval food source for many butterfly and moth species, and provides food and shelter for birds and small mammals.

Southeastern sneezeweed (Helenium pinnatifidum). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Southeastern sneezeweed

Southeastern sneezeweed (Helenium pinnatifidum) is a sunny spring bloomer found throughout most of Florida. But don’t let its name fool you — sneezeweed does not refer to the biological reaction one might have to smelling it. Rather, it is a reference to the plant’s historic use. Native Americans were known to dry and grind into a powder certain species of Helenium and use it as snuff.

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canandensis). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Wild columbine

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is one of Florida’s most striking and unique native #wildflowers. It occurs naturally in only three counties in the Panhandle (where it is a state-listed endangered species) but given the right conditions, it can grow in landscapes as far south as Central Florida. It is found in limestone outcroppings and calcareous and is common in Florida Caverns State Park. Wild columbine blooms in spring. Its nectar is a favorite of hummingbirds and long-tongued bees, butterflies and moths. Small birds enjoy its seeds.