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.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
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).
The low profile of Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) makes it an excellent groundcover choice. It is fairly adaptable to conditions of drought and partial shade, but planting in full sun and moist soil will result in denser foliage and more flowers.
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, Southern dogface and gray hairstreak butterflies.
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.)
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.