White indigoberry (Randia aculeata) is an evergreen flowering shrub or small tree found in pine rocklands and coastal strands and hammocks in Central and South Florida. Its fragrant flowers bloom year-round, attracting a variety of butterflies, including Schaus’ swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus). Its pulpy fruit provides food for many birds. The plant is the larval host plant for the Tantalus sphinx moth (Aellopus tantalus).
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Elliott’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii) is a perennial bunchgrass that occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills, prairies and disturbed sites throughout Florida. Its delicate little flowers appear in such abundance that they cover the plant in a billowy beige haze. It typically blooms in fall, but may produce flowers in summer or even year-round. Its seeds are tiny yet prolific, providing plenty of food for invertebrates and small birds, which use the plant’s dense foliage for cover, as well.
Button rattlesnakemaster (Eryngium yuccifolium) is a peculiar perennial wildflower that occurs in flatwoods, sandhills, savannas and marshes throughout Florida. Its flowers bloom in late spring through fall. They are frequented by a variety of pollinators, but are of special value to native bees. The plant attracts many predatory and parasitoid insects that prey on garden pests. It also attracts bats. The common name rattlesnakemaster (also known as snakeroot) may have come from its use by Native Americans as an antidote for rattlesnake venom.
Feay’s palafox (Palafoxia feayi) is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray florets; and its disk florets are tubular.
Also known as Golden creeper and Coughbush, Beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis) is an evergreen low-growing, mat-forming shrub found on dunes, beaches and coastal hammock edges throughout Central and South Florida. It produces flowers and fruits year-round. The nectar attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, while the berries provide food for birds and small wildlife.
Scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum) is a shrub-like plant with unique white flowers that bloom year-round. Its nectar attracts a variety of butterflies including the Miami blue (Hemiargus thomasi) and Schaus’ swallowtail (Heraclides aristodemus). The plant occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and strands, and ruderal or disturbed areas.