Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) is an erect, woody evergreen shrub that produces large (1-3 feet) terminal panicles of showy white flowers. It occurs naturally in sandhills, dry thickets, disturbed sites, and coastal strands, hammocks and grasslands. It flowers spring through fall and provides food and cover for a variety of wildlife and pollinators. The blooms are frequented for their nectar by hummingbirds and butterflies such as the great southern white (Ascia monuste). Spanish bayonet is also the larval host plant for the cofaqui giant skipper (Megathymus cofaqui) and yucca giant skipper (Megathymus yuccae) butterflies.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) is a long-lived perennial shrub to small tree with fragrant white blooms. It occurs naturally in wet flatwoods, seep and bay swamps and along lake margins. It flowers late spring through summer after the leaves emerge. It is attractive to a variety of pollinators, including hummingbirds. Swamp azalea is Florida’s only white-flowered and summer-blooming rhododendron.
Southern beeblossom (Oenothera simulans) is an erect herbaceous annual that occurs naturally along roadsides and in pinelands, open woods and sandy fields. It flowers spring through summer and attracts a wide range of small pollinators, including moths and bees. The pollen grains are held together by a threadlike substance and can only be collected by pollinators that are morphologically specialized. Its flowers open at night (hence the family name, evening primrose), so only pollinators that forage at night can pollinate them. Birds have been known to eat Southern beeblossom seeds.
Pricklypear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sandhills, coastal strands, ruderal sites and dry, open areas. It flowers in late spring and attracts a wide range of pollinators, especially native bees. The fleshy fruits and seeds are eaten by birds, small mammals and gopher tortoises (who also enjoy browsing the pads).
False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) is a densely branched woody shrub with a striking spring and summer floral display. It occurs naturally in alluvial forests, wet and coastal hammocks, cypress pond edges, and along stream and river banks. It attracts many pollinators and is the larval host plant for the silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), Southern dogface (Zerene cesonia), gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) butterflies.