Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Florida greeneyes’ vibrant blooms are solitary and terminal. They consist of several lemon yellow ray florets, each with a notched tip and “grooved” surface. Disk florets are tubular and yellow, turning maroon as they mature. When open, they reveal a maroon anther and yellow stigma. The receptacle is broad, flat and yellowish-green. It is held by a cup of overlapping bracts. Leaves are mostly basal and may be petiolate or sessile. They are dark green and ovately shaped with crenate margins when young; older leaves may appear more deeply lobed. Leaf undersides are covered in soft hairs. Stems are short and usually hairy. The taproot is thick and tuberous. Seeds are born in cypselae, which are attached to the bracts and mature into a distinctive, plate-like seed head. Only ray florets produce seed.
Two stages of Florida greeneyes’ distinctive seedhead. Photos by Stacey Matrazzo
The genus name Berlandiera refers to 19th century naturalist Jean-Louis Berlandier, who collected botanical specimens in Mexico and Texas. The species epithet, subacaulis, is from the Latin sub, meaning “under,” and acaule, or “stemless.” It refers to the plant’s short stem.
Florida greeneyes (as well as other Berlandiera species) have been informally referred to as “chocolate flowers” because the open disk florets emit a subtle chocolatey fragrance.
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)
Native range: Eastern Panhandle, north and central peninsula, Lee and Monroe counties
To see where natural populations of Florida greeneyes have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8B–10B
Soil: Dry to moderately moist, well-drained sandy, rocky or calcareous soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 1–2’ tall when blooming
Propagation: Seed, root division
Garden tips: Florida greeneyes is easy to establish in the garden. Its tuberous root, which can be as thick as 12 inches in older plants, makes it very drought tolerant. Seeds can be collected after ray florets drop. Propagation by division is possible but may be difficult, as plants are joined by the thick root. Once established, Florida greeneyes requires little mainteance. It can form large clumps and produce copious blooms, creating a beautiful spring display.
Florida greeneyes seeds are available from the Florida Wildflower Cooperative. Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.