Virginia willow (Itea virgnica) is an erect to spreading shrub with showy spikes of tiny white flowers that bloom in late winter through early summer. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps, seepage slopes, stream and lake edges, and calcareous and mesic hammocks. The plant provides food and cover for wildlife. Despite its common name, it is not a true willow, which are members of the Salix genus in the Salicaceae family. It is also known as Sweetspire and Tassel-white.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Yellow anisetree (Illicium parviflorum) is an evergreen shrub to small tree found in mesic hammocks, bluffs, ravines and seepage swamps. It is endemic to only seven Central Florida counties. Its dense evergreen foliage provides cover for birds and other wildlife. Its lightly fragrant blooms appear in spring and summer. They are pollinated by small insects, particularly flies in the Diptera order.
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is a shrub or tree found in coastal and inland scrub, dunes, floodplains and hammocks. Its diminutive flowers bloom in spring, attracting a variety of bees and other insects. In the fall, abundant fruit production provides food for birds and small mammals. The dense evergreen foliage provides year-round cover for wildlife.
Florida swampprivet (Forestiera segregata) is an evergreen shrub to small tree that occurs naturally in coastal hammocks, thickets, scrub and pine rocklands. Flowers typically appear in early spring before leaves emerge, but the plant may bloom year-round. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Birds and small mammals are partial to the abundant fruit and use the dense foliage for cover.
When in bloom, Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is arguably one of Florida’s most beautiful flowering trees. Though dormant in winter, the tree comes alive in early spring. Before leaves emerge, a bounty of showy white to pinkish blooms cover the crown. From late summer to fall, its abundant fruit provides food for a variety of birds and small mammals. Flowering dogwood occurs naturally along the edges of mesic hardwood forests and pinelands throughout North and much of Central Florida.
Gallberry (Ilex glabra) is an evergreen shrub to small tree found in flatwoods, bayheads, coastal swales, bogs, sinks and moist woodlands throughout Florida. Its tiny flowers attract bees, while its pulpy berries and evergreen foliage provide food and cover for birds.