Lyreleaf sage is a harbinger of spring for much of north and central Florida Photo by Lisa Roberts
Lyreleaf sage is a harbinger of spring for much of north and central Florida Photo by Lisa Roberts

See what’s in bloom!

Click on a symbol to see each user-submitted photo of what’s blooming in different parts of the state. Have a sighting to share? Submit it to photos@flawildflowers.org with species name and the location so we can show it on the map!

The Bloom Report: Head south and look to moist areas for wildflowers

By Jeff Norcini

Leavenworth's coreopsis (Coreopsis leavenworthii). Photo by Jeff Norcini
Leavenworth's coreopsis (Coreopsis leavenworthii)
Photo/Jeff Norcini

By Jeff Norcini

It's November, and you might not expect to see any showy bloom of native wildflowers and grasses. But don’t jump to that conclusion too fast, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

At this time of year, the foliage of many native grasses has senesced, or is senescing — meaning it’s dead or dying. However, the various shades of brown and reddish brown that native grasses exhibit through the latter stages of life adds an aesthetic that appeals to many folks, especially where there is a mixture of native grasses, like there is in natural areas and on power line rights-of-way.

Senescing native grasses are not the only herbaceous plants with aesthetic appeal at this time of year. Consider the subtle beauty of senescing native wildflowers in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The seeds in this family often have a whitish pappus — a hairy, parachute-like structure that helps them disperse by catching the wind. These seeds, which are clustered in heads or along stems, contrast nicely with brownish dead stems. Moreover, many native Asteraceae can be tall, like goldenrods (Solidago spp.), making them quite noticeable, and even more noticeable when in large populations. In dry areas, Claudia Larsen in North Central Florida notes that Summer farewell "retain their flowerheads as a coppery inflorescence."

Head south for best blooms

For those looking for a more traditional display of wildflowers, the further south, the better. The weather through February is likely to be warmer than normal, which will extend flowering of some species and cause some spring wildflowers to bloom a bit early. In late January or February, it would not be surprising to see the bright yellow flowers of Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) lighting up tree trunks and branches in natural areas as well as tree lines along roadsides. And in Central Florida, Drummond phlox (Phlox drummondii), while not native, often is seen blooming in February along Interstate 75, especially in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The bloom could be even earlier this year.

Because below normal rainfall is expected this winter, the best places to look for wildflowers probably will be in naturally moist areas, although abundant summer rains could bring forth good stands of wildflowers in normally drier locations. Roadsides usually are mowed in late fall, so in November/December, focus on natural areas, preserves, and state and county parks. However, by late January or February, naturally moist areas on roadsides, especially in state and national forests and preserves, should be good sites to look for wildflowers.

Good places to find blooms

Panhandle (through the end of November)

State Road 267 (Leon and Wakulla counties, mainly in the Apalachicola National Forest)

West of the Apalachicola River (any roadside that borders a scrub community)

Click to see other Panhandle viewing locations.

NOTE: State Road 65, Apalachicola National Forest — normally a great place to view native wildflowers and grasses nearly year-round — was mowed recently so there is much less to see for a while.

North Florida

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (Gainesville)

Central Florida

Bok Tower Gardens (Lake Wales)

Little Manatee River State Park (Wimauma)

South Florida

Big Cypress National Preserve (main entrance – Ochopee)

  • Yellow colicroot (Aletris lutea)
  • Prairie milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
  • Leavenworth's tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii)

Everglades National Park (main entrance – Homestead)

  • Prairie milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
  • Pine-pink (Bletia purpurea)
  • Deering's partridge pea (Chamaecrista deeringiana)
  • Pine-hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii)
  • Leavenworth's tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii)
  • Spurred neottia (Eltroplectris calcarata)
  • Purplehead sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum)
  • Rose of Plymouth (Sabatia stellaris)

CREW Marsh Hiking Trails (Immokalee)

Nancy Bissett, Bob Farley, Roger Hammer and Claudia Larsen contributed viewing suggestions.

Click it, don’t pick it!

Many native wildflowers reproduce only by seed. Picking a flower reduces the ability of a population of wildflowers to sustain itself.

It’s the law
Picking the flowers of any endangered or threatened species is illegal in Florida (Florida Statute 581.185).

Don’t be a hazard
Stopping alongside a road can be hazardous to you and other motorists. It’s best to view roadside wildflowers from your vehicle.

Wildflower hot spots

Where can I find wildflowers?
Wildflower hot spots include highways managed by FDOT, such as Florida’s Turnpike and Interstates 75, 95 and 4. Many rural roads, especially in the Panhandle and Big Bend, also are known for abundant blooms.

Places to see wildflowers:

Statewide
Florida National Scenic Trail
Florida Water Management Districts lands
Florida State Parks
Hiking Statewide — Wildflower Walks
National Forest lands
US Forest Service

North Florida
Florida Caverns State Park
, Marianna
Big Bend Scenic Byway
Goethe State Forest (Alachua/Levy County)
State Road 65, between Telogia and Sumatra
State Road 9A, between Gate Parkway and Baymeadows Road, Duval County
State Road 26, west of Gainesville
State Road 100, Keystone Heights; also between Bunnell and Palatka
State Road 228, just north of State Road 23, Duval County
State Road 500/ U.S. Highway Alt. 27, Chiefland to Williston
U.S. Highway 27, from north end of Perry for about 3-4 miles
U.S. Highway 27, Suwannee County
U.S. Highway 27/98, Dixie and Levy County
U.S. Highway 90, between Lake City and Live Oak
U.S. Highway 301 at the Florida/Georgia border, Nassau County

Wildflower routes

Eastern Florida Panhandle: Includes great roads for wildflower viewing in the eastern Panhandle. Visit the mobile site or download a brochure, both of which feature photos of more than 40 common native wildflowers
St. Johns River to the Sea Bike Loop: Volusia, Brevard, Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties.
Big Bend Wildflower Route: Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee and Taylor counties.
Corkscrew Swamp Vicinity Wildflower Route: Collier, Hendry and Lee counties.