Also known as Dixie aster, Whitetop aster (Sericocarpus tortifolius) is a perennial wildflower found in sandhills, pine flatwoods, upland mixed woodlands and forest margins throughout Florida. It blooms summer through fall and attracts many butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Despite its common name, Showy milkwort (Asemeia violacea) is a diminutive herbaceous wildflower with small flowers that are borne somewhat sparsely on terminal racemes. It is a summer-bloomer, but can bloom year-round in the southern part of the state. The flowers are attractive to bees, the plant’s primary pollinator. Showy milkwort occurs naturally in pinelands, prairies and open disturbed areas throughout Florida.
Yellow fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) is a state-threatened terrestrial orchid found in wet prairies, seepage bogs, ditches and wet pine flatwoods. Its showy orange to bright yellow flowers typically bloom in summer and peak in August. Although not common, Yellow fringed orchids tend to grow in small colonies resulting in a small mass of bright color. Butterflies are the primary pollinator and use their long tongues to access the nectar. The pollen attaches to the insect’s eyes and is carried to the next flower.
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.
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.
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.