Also known as Woodland phlox, Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) is a delicate perennial wildflower. Its beautiful blooms appear from spring into early summer in slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks. It is limited to four Panhandle counties in Florida, but is widespread throughout the United States. Many pollinators are attracted to the blooms, especially butterflies. Its roots are eaten by rabbits and other small mammals.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Lewton’s milkwort (Polygala lewtonii) is a state-endangered wildflower endemic to only six counties in Central Florida. It occurs in scrub, sandhill and pine barren habitats where maintenance includes a regular fire regime. It blooms in late winter and spring, attracting a variety of pollinators, especially leafcutter bees, hover flies and bee flies.
Pinebarren frostweed (Crocanthemum corymbosum) is a perennial mound-shaped subshrub that occurs naturally in sandhills, dry flatwoods, dunes and other dry, sandy areas. Its delicate lemon-yellow flowers bloom spring through summer and attract a variety of pollinators. Blooms are many, and they last only one day.
Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida) is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. It typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round, and occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. Its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.
Rose-rush (Lygodesmia aphylla) is a striking perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in sandy flatwoods, scrub, sandhills and pine barrens throughout most of Florida. It is near-endemic, occurring outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties. It blooms spring through summer; in South Florida, it may bloom into fall. Like other asters, it attracts a variety of pollinators.
Dainty, ground-hugging, perennial, flowering and edible are just a few descriptions for Florida’s common blue violet (Viola sororia). This plant is aptly named as it is the violet that is most common throughout Florida and is often seen in cultivated lawns. It grows in clumps, forming a thick groundcover that will never need to be mowed. They are prolific self-seeders, as well. When grown in the right conditions, violets flower from spring through the summer months.