Drumheads (Polygala cruciata) is a low-growing wildflower that blooms from late spring through fall. They occur naturally throughout most of Florida in wet pinelands, savannas and other open wetland habitats, as well as along marsh edges. The name Polygala comes from the Greek polys, meaning “many or much,” and gala, meaning “milk.” It is so-named because it was once believed that the presence of Polygala species in cow fields would result in higher milk production.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Garberia (Garberia heterophylla) is unlike most species in the Asteraceae family in that its growth habit is woody and shrubby rather than herbaceous. It is endemic to Florida’s north and central peninsula, and occurs naturally in scrub and xeric hammocks. It typically flowers in late fall but has been known to flower sparsely throughout the year. Garberia is a state-listed threatened species and is part of the Eupatorieae tribe, whose members produce flowers consisting of only disk and no ray florets. It is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.
Also known as swamp sunflower, Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) is one of Florida’s most common sunflowers. It occurs naturally in marshes, wet flatwoods, and roadside ditches throughout North and Central Florida. It is a short-lived perennial, and blooms primarily in October and November, although some flowering can occur in September and December. In nature, it tends to form dense colonies, resulting in spectacular swaths of sunshine yellow. Narrowleaf sunflower blooms attract bees and butterflies, while its seeds provide a tasty treat for birds.
Mistflower, Blue mistflower, Wild ageratum, Pink eupatorium, Hardy ageratum, and Blue boneset are just some of the many common names used to identify Conoclinium coelestinum, an eye-catching Florida native wildflower that is also very attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies and moths.
Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum) is an herbaceous to woody annual that bears dainty yet distinctive bluish-purple blooms. Flowers are short-lived, opening only in the morning, but individual plants may produce thousands of flowers throughout a season. It also has a particularly long flowering season, typically beginning in late summer and lasting through late fall.
Corn snakeroot (Eryngium aquaticum) blooms vary in color from rich lavender to a pale cornflower blue. They are globular and are surrounded by spiny bracts. They typically bloom summer through late fall, attracting a variety of pollinators. The common name snakeroot (also known as rattlesnakemaster, both of which are used to describe the Eryngium genus) may have come from its use in Native American culture as a remedy for snakebite.