Thistles have a bad reputation for their spiny personality, but these formidable wildflowers shine as favorite nectar and host plants for many bees and butterflies, including swallowtails. Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum) is the larval host plant for the little metalmark and painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Pineland chaffhead (Carphephorus carnosus aka Litrisa carnosa) is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in wet pine flatwoods, savannas and seepage slopes. It typically blooms in late summer through early fall and attracts butterflies, moths and other pollinators. It is endemic to only 13 Central and South Florida counties.
Known also as Dense blazing star, Marsh blazing star and Spiked blazing star, Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) is an erect herbaceous perennial with striking spikes of purple flowers. It occurs naturally in mesic to wet flatwoods, seepage slopes, bogs, savannas and roadside ditches. It blooms in late summer through fall and is an excellent attractor of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
Florida yellow flax (Linum floridanum) is a demure perennial wildflower found in sandhills and flatwoods throughout the state. It typically blooms summer through fall but may bloom year-round. It is attractive as a larval food to butterflies and moths, including the variegated fritillary.