Bumble bees are very efficient pollinators because they “buzz pollinate.” The bee grabs onto a flower and vibrates its flight muscles but not its wings. This causes the flower to release its pollen. It also creates an audible buzz at the frequency of a middle C note. The genus name Bombus comes from the Greek bombos, which means “buzzing sound.”
Cuckoo bees are often mistaken for wasps because their body shape resembles a wasp, and they are nearly hairless. They also lack the pollen baskets that most bees have on their legs because they do not collect pollen for their young.
‘Tis the season for seed collecting. As you return to the garden after the last two months of unbearable heat, biting bugs and sweat, you’ll probably encounter a lot of overgrown stems. Cut those back to their base to freshen up the plant for winter. Trailing species, such as beach sunflower and Gaillardia, can also be whacked into submission and will probably bloom again by late November.
There’s a good chance that if you’ve been to any Florida Wildflower Foundation events, you may have run into this member. Most recently, he could be found with 25 other wildflower enthusiasts at the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, soaking up some plant identification and lore on a walk led by author and FWF board member Dr. Walter K. Taylor.
FWF member Chris Waltz is known to many in native plant circles because of the supporting role he plays in conferences and other events. Here is what Chris has to say about his involvement with the Florida Wildflower Foundation.
Spring and fall wildflowers can be spectacular with a plethora of yellow and purple flowers, but summer seems to offer a wider diversity of colorful, showy wildflowers along roadsides.
Blanketflower, also known as Indian blanket or firewheel, is a brightly colored herbaceous wildflower that blooms in spring, summer and into fall in North Florida, and year-round in Central and South Florida. It occurs naturally in dry savannahs, coastal dunes and other dry, open areas. The blooms attract a variety of pollinators.
Meet Gary Henry, longtime wildflower advocate and enthusiast. Gary Henry is the former Florida Department of Transportation’s landscape architect and a founding member of the Florida Wildflower Foundation board. He also was a driving force behind the establishment of the State Wildflower license plate, which funds the Foundation’s work.
Don’t let the title scare you off! I’ve been wondering why plants of the same species sometimes occur in different colors, so I did a little research. As you can see from my photos, some common flowers that have appeared in my garden are red and yellow forms of milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and blanketflower (Gaillardia puchella). I also have red, pink and white tropical sage (Salvia coccinea), which I’m sure many of you have also grown. Do you ever have white flower forms of your typically blue spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) or Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis)? Wonder what’s going on?
Do you enjoy juicy watermelons, local blueberries and strawberries and fresh Florida orange juice? How about carrots, broccoli, almonds and apples? If you do, please thank an insect! More than 100 crops are dependent on insect pollination, resulting in an economic value of $18 to $27 billion in the United States. Major Florida crops that benefit from bee pollination include cucumber, watermelon, specialty citrus, squash, strawberries, avocados, blueberries and eggplant.
If you have added wildflowers to your landscape, you’ve probably learned how adaptable they are to a wide range of environmental conditions. Although it is a challenge to introduce wildflowers to a dry site, many species will adapt and flourish once established.
Have you ever had a deer wander into your yard to dine on your landscape plants? Well, that’s what happened several years ago at a wildflower demonstration garden established as part of my extension program at the University of Florida/IFAS research center in Quincy.