Gray nicker (Guilandina bonduc) is a vine-like shrub found in coastal strands and mangrove swamps along Florida’s central and southern coasts, where it clambers over other vegetation. Its striking clusters of fragrant yellow flowers typically bloom in spring and summer, but may bloom year-round in South Florida. The plant is a larval host for the Miami blue and Nickerbean blue butterflies.
“Flower Friday” is a weekly profile of a different Florida native wildflower.
Also known as Yellow pricklypoppy, Mexican pricklypoppy (Argemone mexicana) is an eye-catching wildflower with an imposing presence. Its brilliant blooms are quite attractive, but don’t get too close — the rest of the plant is armed with sharp spines. It blooms winter through summer, typically peaking in early spring and drawing a variety of pollinators. The plant is often spotted in open, disturbed sites and along roadsides throughout much of Florida.
Green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower found in pinelands, pine rocklands and disturbed areas in a few Florida counties. It flowers winter through summer, with peak blooms in spring. Like many members of the milkweed family, Green antelopehorn is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. Their caterpillars have adapted to feed on the plant, which contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals. The flowers are also an important nectar source for bees and wasps.
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is a rare perennial wildflower that occurs throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. In Florida, it occurs naturally only in open fields and woodland edges of Jackson and Leon counties. The plant is a larval host for the Gray hairstreak butterfly. Its spring flowers attract bees and butterflies, while its tiny summer fruits are a treat for humans and wildlife. They can be eaten right off the plant or collected and made into jams, jellies or pies. The leaves, which are high in Vitamin C, can be brewed into a tea.
Toothpetal false reinorchid (Habenaria floribunda) is one of Florida’s most common terrestrial orchids. It is found in swamps and hardwood forests throughout most of peninsular Florida and typically blooms fall through winter. The semi-showy flowers are aromatic, emitting either a sweet fragrance or an unpleasant odor, depending on who you ask.
Pine-pink (Bletia purpurea) is a state-threatened terrestrial orchid found in swamps, marshes, pinelands and pine rocklands in southern Florida. Its striking pink flowers bloom in winter, spring and early summer. Pine-pink flowers are a food-deceptive species. They do not contain nectar, but may attract bees and other insects with their conspicuous floral display. However, like many orchid species, Pine-pink is self-pollinating, and some of its flowers are cleistogamous, meaning the bud self-pollinates and never fully opens.