Clustered bushmint (Hyptis alata) occurs naturally along pond and swamp margins, in moist roadside ditches, and in wet prairies and pinelands. It typically blooms spring through fall, but may bloom year-round. The small flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, wasps and occasionally hummingbirds. When crushed, the plant emits a musky fragrance, giving it another common name, Musky mint.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Joewood (Jacquinia keyensis) is an evergreen shrub found in coastal hammocks, strands and scrub in South Florida. It blooms year-round, peaking in summer and fall. The fragrant flowers are rich in nectar and attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees. Birds and other small wildlife savor the fruit and find cover in the plant’s dense foliage. Although common in its natural habitat, Joewood is a state-listed threatened species.
Florida tickseed (Coreopsis floridana) is one of 12 Coreopsis species native to Florida. It is endemic to the state and occurs naturally in wet pinelands and prairies, cypress swamp edges and roadside ditches. It typically blooms from late summer into early winter, but may bloom year-round. Its bright sunny flowers attract a variety of pollinators, especially butterflies.
Eastern purple bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea) is an aquatic carnivorous plant found in wetlands, freshwater swamps and shallow ponds and lakes throughout Florida. Its small but showy lavender flowers bloom year-round. This highly specialized plant feeds on insects and other small organisms caught in its bladder-like trap. Unsuspecting prey brush against tiny hairs that trigger a trapdoor. As the door closes, the organism and water are sucked into the bladder. With the bladder full and the door closed, the plant releases enzymes to digest the organism.
Hartwrightia (Hartwrightia floridana) is an uncommon inconspicuous wildflower found in only 10 Florida and five Georgia counties. It is a state-listed threatened species in both states, where habitat loss and fire suppression imperil it. The plant occurs in seepage slopes, depressions, marsh edges and wet pine flatwoods and prairies. Its pastel flowers bloom in late summer and fall. Pollination has not been studied specifically in Hartwrightia, but it is presumed its flowers are pollinated by the same variety of insects that pollinate other Asteraceae species.
Bird pepper (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) is a lovely native plant found primarily in coastal hammocks in South and Central Florida. The plant’s dainty flowers bloom year-round and attract mostly bees. As its name suggests, birds (especially mockingbirds) love its fruit, particularly before they ripen. The fruit is edible to humans, but be warned — it is hot!