Bloom Report: For sizzling summer wildflowers, head to the wetlands

Many areas are very dry now, especially in Central and South Florida. When traveling in West Central Florida in mid-May, I saw very few wildflowers blooming, even in normally moist areas, many of which had dried up. The good news is that the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting that drought conditions should be alleviated by the end of August in all but east Central Florida, and even in that part of the state drought conditions should improve.

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Award-winning roadside wildflowers

In a first for Florida, a project to manage naturally occurring wildflowers – versus displays that have been planted – has been recognized for its success. The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs recently gave a “Paths of Sunshine” award to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 5 for successfully protecting and nurturing a natural wildflower display along a stretch of State Road 520 in east Orange County.

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Know your native pollinators: Leafcutter bees

Megachilidae (commonly referred to as leafcutter, mason, orchard or cuckoo bees) are a large family of solitary nesters with distinctive and fascinating behaviors. Many are easily recognizable and can be attracted to your yard with artificial nesting boxes.

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Know your native pollinators: Polyester bees

Colletids are one of the smaller bee families in Florida, but are diverse in size and appearance. They’re named for the unique cellophane-like substance that many females secrete to line the walls of their nest cells.

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Sweat bee on blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium sp.) by Mary Keim

Bloom Report: Wildflowers bloom earlier than normal

Earlier-than-normal blooming of spring wildflowers seems to be occurring more often, but this year stands out because some wildflowers are blooming nearly a month earlier than expected. The influence of this “abnormal” weather will probably be greatest in North Florida. If the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) climate predictions hold true, March will likely be wetter and warmer than normal, which would speed up the time when mid- or late-spring wildflowers bloom, such as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella).

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Upcoming events

Nov. 16 Field trip to Heartwood Preserve
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Heartwood Preserve 4100 Starkey Boulevard Trinity, FL 34655

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Dr. Walter Taylor

Dr. Walter Taylor presents at the 2014 Florida Wildflower Symposium.