You’d probably expect an elephant-sized flower from a plant called Tall elephantsfoot (Elephantopus elatus), but it’s not the flower that gives this plant its name. It’s the large rosette of flat basal leaves that, with a bit of imagination, bear a tiny resemblance to the shape of an elephant’s footprint. The plant’s small lavender flowers are held by three fuzzy bracts that form a unique triangular shape. Despite their size, the flowers attract a variety of pollinators, especially native bees.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana) is a low-growing, herbaceous wildflower that occurs naturally in very moist to aquatic habitats such as along pond and stream margins, and in swamps, marshes and shallow ditches. It typically blooms late spring through fall, but can bloom year-round. Its nectar attracts a variety of small pollinators.
Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) is a brilliant, biennial herbaceous wildflower. Contrary to its common name, it is not related to the cypress tree (Taxodium spp.). It blooms summer through fall and occurs naturally in sandhills, coastal strands, beach dunes and ruderal areas. It is very attractive to butterflies as well as other pollinators.
Florida paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus) is a showy, perennial herbaceous wildflower that blooms from mid-summer into fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods and ruderal areas. It is very attractive to butterflies as well as other pollinators.
Thistleleaf aster (Eurybia eryngiifolia) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower that occurs only in Florida’s eastern Panhandle and in a few neighboring counties in Alabama and Georgia. Its blooms are fairly large and appear in late spring through fall. It occurs naturally in wet prairies, wiregrass savannas and wet pine flatwoods and is loved by many bees and butterflies.