Nothing says fall in Florida like the purple haze of hairyawn muhly grass in bloom. When planted en masse, this perennial bunchgrass puts on a spectacular fall display. It’s great for just about any landscape as it is hardy, drought-tolerant, easy to care for and adaptable to a variety of soil and light conditions. Its foliage is attractive all year and its clumping habit provides excellent cover for wildlife.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Seminole false foxglove (Agalinis filifolia) is an annual herbaceous wildflower found in sandhills, flatwoods, coastal scrub and xeric woodlands throughout Florida. It bears lovely pink flowers with fringed corollas and white throats with pink spots. It attracts many pollinators, including the common buckeye, of which it is a larval host plant. Its secret to survival is its parasitic nature, living off nutrients it takes from the roots of other plants.
Bushy seaside oxeye (Borrichia frutescens) is common in Florida’s coastal strands, mangroves, beach dunes, salt marshes and tidal flats. It blooms year-round, keeping our coastline in color and attracting butterflies and other pollinators. Its seeds provide food for birds and other small wildlife.
Meet vanillaleaf, the odiferous Carphephorus! Perhaps the most telling of common names, vanillaleaf refers to the vanilla-like scent that the plant’s wilting leaves emit when crushed. Vanillaleaf (Carpephorus odoratissimus) is a perennial that produces many small purple flowers in terminal, flat-topped inflorescences. It blooms late summer into fall in mesic to hydric pine flatwoods, moist sandhills and bogs, and is attractive to pollinators.
Say hello to summer farewell, a perennial herbaceous wildflower native to sandhills, dry flatwoods and scrub habitat. As the common name implies, summer farewell (Dalea pinnata) blooms in late summer and early fall. Its many white flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Its seeds provide food for birds and small wildlife. Summer farewell makes an excellent addition to a dry, sunny wildflower garden. It is dormant in the winter, but its spring leaves, summer and fall flowers, and fall seed pods provide plenty of color throughout the rest of the year.
Even cat people love dogtongue wild buckwheat! This herbaceous perennial produces a plethora of white to pinkish flowers in late summer and fall. You’ll find it blooming in sandhills, scrub and pinelands in the Panhandle and north and central peninsula. It attracts a variety of pollinators, including the thread-waisted wasp (Eremnophila aureonotata) and tiphiid wasp (Myzinum sp.).