White wild indigo (Baptisia alba) is a long-lived perennial herbaceous wildflower with showy white blooms. It occurs naturally in pine flatwoods and along riverbanks and deciduous forest edges. It attracts many pollinators and is the larval host plant for the wild indigo duskywing and Zarucco duskywing butterflies. The fruits are eaten by a variety of birds, and the foliage is browsed by rabbits and deer. (The plant’s large tuberous roots allow it to withstand browsing.)
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Also known as old man’s beard (or grancy graybeard in limited circles), Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) is often overshadowed by dogwood, plum and other spring-flowering trees. But Fringetree’s graceful tassled flowers put on an equally spectacular display. It occurs naturally in a variety of habitats including moist hammocks and sandy uplands. It attracts many pollinators, including bats, and is the larval host plant for several species of sphinx moths. Birds love the fruits.
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is an evergreen, perennial shrub to small tree that puts on a spectacular springtime display. It occurs naturally in slope forests, bluffs and along creeks, seep streams and swamp edges. It attracts bees and provides cover for birds and small mammals. Mountain laurel is a state-listed threatened species in Florida.
Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata) is a perennial wildflower with conspicuously sunny blooms that typically appear in spring and sometimes into summer. It occurs naturally in moist sandhills, marshes, and along swamp edges. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and its seeds are commonly eaten by birds and small wildlife. Lanceleaf tickseed is one of 13 species of Coreopsis native to Florida. Coreopsis is Florida’s state wildflower.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a deciduous perennial tree that produces an abundance of striking magenta blooms. It typically flowers in March, at which time the entire crown of the tree will become covered in deep pink blooms. It occurs naturally in mesic hardwood hammocks. Eastern redbud depends on bees for pollination. Its leaves provide food for many caterpillars, including the io moth.
Black titi (Cliftonia monophylla) is a perennial evergreen shrub to small tree. Its fragrant white-to-pinkish flowers typically bloom in spring. It occurs naturally in swamps, bogs, wet flatwoods and along stream edges. It is a wonderful attractor of pollinators — specifically honeybees who use its nectar and pollen to produce honey — and is also browsed by deer.