Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Will Be At Morningside Nature Park, Gainesville, This Friday



The annual spring native plant sale at Morningside Nature Park in Gainesville, FL is this Friday-Saturday, April 3-4.  Friday afternoon is the biggest day as it is open only to Florida Native Plant Society members and members of the Friends of Nature Parks.  I will be there Friday and expect to sell out the plants I am able to bring up.  This is a super fun sale, with a huge number of vendors - easily the largest native plant sale in central Florida. I encourage all of you to attend - let me know if there is something you want me to bring up for you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pale passionvine - Passiflora pallida


Pale passionvine (Passiflora pallida) is a state endangered species, found naturally only in Collier, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties in the extreme southern portion of the state.  It also occurs in the West Indies. In many respects, it shares the many attributes of purple passionvine (P. incarnata) described previously.  It differs by its foliage and in the color of its blooms.
Pale passionvine naturally is found in hardwood hammocks and the edge of forested wetlands. Unlike purple passionvine, it tolerates low light levels and clambers up into the forest canopy to seek additional light.  Large numbers of flowers occur from spring through fall. Each bloom is about 2 inches across. The petals are white or with a slight purple blush while the many filaments are banded in deeper violet. Although it has remained evergreen in our Pinellas County landscape, it does not flower during the winter here and grows very little. The flowers close during the evening and open  by late morning.  They are slightly fragrant, and plants in full bloom can be detected some distance away.  They are pollinated by bumblebees.  The fruit is similar to that of purple passionvine, but is lower in acidity and not nearly as tasty. The leaves are only slightly lobed.  They resemble those of yellow passionvine (P. lutea), but are several inches across.
Pale passionvine is a beautiful wildflower with the same butterfly-garden role as its other native cousins, but it is only infrequently offered for sale by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  Our plant has set seed and we are optimistic that we can offer it in the future at Hawthorn Hill.  Although we have kept this plant in our landscape for more than a year, it has not been tested against freezing temperatures or extreme drought. As a south Florida native, it may not be cold tolerant. It is most likely tolerant of enough drought as to be adaptable to most landscape settings.

Purple passionvine - Passiflora incarnata


Purple passionvine (Passiflora incarnata) occurs statewide in a variety of upland habitats.  Named by early Spanish missionaries, passionvines supposedly helped tell the story of the "passion" of Christ; the crucifixion story.  The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the holy lance, the tendrils the whips used in the flagellation of Christ, the ten petals/sepals represented the 10 faithful apostles (excluding Peter and Judas), the radial filaments represent the crown of thorns, the 3 stigmas the 3 nails, and the 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds he received.  All a bit of a stretch in modern times, but a useful story model in trying to gain new converts among native peoples.
Purple passionvine is an aggressive vine when grown in favorable conditions.  It produces multiple stems that can exceed a dozen feet in length and the tendrils it produces along the length of each allows it to climb and clamber over all the vegetation it encounters along the way.  Usually, it remains close to the ground and partially smothers low shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. It rarely climbs upwards toward the canopy of trees. Over time, passionvines also sucker and new stems can emerge many feet away from the parent plant.  All of this means that passionvines can be a bit unruly and are best used in a landscape where this will not be a problem.
What makes passionvines wonderful additions to the landscape are their wonderful flowers and the fact that they serve as larval host plants to several beautiful species of butterflies. Purple passionvine is one of the state's showiest wildflowers.  Blooming occurs from early summer to fall. Each light lavender bloom can be 3+ inches across and they are slightly fragrant.  The flowers are mostly pollinated by bumblebees and the pollinated blooms eventually form rounded fruit that become yellowish and wrinkly at maturity.  Inside, the many seeds are covered by a sticky gelatinous flesh that is high in citric acid and quite tasty to eat.  
Caterpillars of gulf fritillaries and several heliconias - zebra longwings and julias, feed on the foliage. If your landscape has a lot of butterflies, their feeding can easily keep the foliage in check.  Purple passionvine has leaves with three lobes and no fuzzy hairs - like some of the nonnative purple-flowered species have.  
Because of its beauty and utility to butterfly gardeners, purple passionvine is rather widely propagated and should not be too difficult to locate.  In a landscape, however, this species is touchy as to growing conditions.  It requires exceptionally good drainage and high light levels to persist over time.  If kept too moist, especially during the summer rainy period, it will decline and eventually die.  Other passionvines are better for shady and/or moist soils.  I think this species is best used on a trellis where the flowers are best seen and the stems are somewhat confined.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Plants on the Way & Some Seed to Give Away



Happy New Year from Hawthorn Hill - Craig & Alexa Huegel. We are busy sowing seed for Spring 2015 plants.  One of the species we have germinating right now is Rudbeckia graminifolia, pictured at the top.  It should be a very interesting year here. My new book, on using native plants in shady landscapes is off to the printer and should be available in April of this year.  Foolishly, I am starting a new book as well - more on that someday in the future if the University Press of Florida is willing to take it on as well....

We don't usually have extra seed, but we have limited quantities of the following.  Seed loses its viability quickly so there is no sense in saving it on my end.  If any of this is of interest to you, please email me - huegelc55@aol.com  and inquire.  I will give it away first come, but will ask you to send me a SASE.

1. Garberia heterophylla - Garberia
2. Symphyotrichum georgianum - Georgia aster
3. Chrysoma paucifloculosa - Woody goldenrod
4. Chrysopsis mariana - Maryland goldenaster
5. Chrysopsis liniarifolia - Linear leaved goldenaster

Quantities are very limited.  All of these species are in the blog if they are not familiar to you.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Flaxleaf False Foxglove - Agalinus linifolia



Flaxleaf false foxglove (Agalinus linifolia) is found statewide in moist to wet prairies, savannas, wet pinelands and the upper edges of marshes.  Unlike most members of the genus, it is a perennial. Though this can be a confusing genus in terms of differentiating the 17 native species, this one can be identified by its clasping linear leaves, its habitat, and the fact that only a few showy flowers are produced near the top of the stem.
Flaxleaf false foxglove dies back to the ground in winter. The solitary, normally unbranched stem eventually stands 2-4 feet tall by fall.  The linear opposite leaves are appressed along the stem, somewhat thickened, and 1-2 inches long.  Flowering occurs in the fall.  The showy pink to deep rose-colored blooms are similar to those of other species in the genus - lightly spotted in the back of the throat, the edges of the petals hairy, and tubular.  The flowers are of interest to pollinating insects, especially bumblebees.  Up to 20 flowers may be produced over the blooming season, but most plants produce less than half this number.  False foxgloves are often root parasites, but flaxleaf false foxglove does not seem to be.  This genus is also a larval host for the common buckeye butterfly.
None of the false foxgloves are currently being propagated by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  The semi-parasitic nature of some, and their growth habit as annuals makes most difficult to maintain in a wildflower garden.  Flaxleaf false foxglove, however, does not share those characteristics and would seem to be a good candidate for future propagation - especially for butterfly gardeners interested in providing for buckeyes.  Until such time, however, look for this species in the fall and admire it for its simple beauty.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Alicia - Chapmannia floridana



Alicia (Chapmannia floridana) is endemic to Florida and found throughout much of peninsular Florida in well-drained sandy uplands - scrub, sandhill, and open sandy woodlands.  The genus name honors Dr. Alvin Chapman who authored the classic Flora of the Southern United States in the late 1800's; a book that served as the standard field guide of this area for a great many years.  Alicia is the sole member of this genus.
Alicia is an annual member of the legume family.  Emerging in spring, it becomes a lanky stem by summer that may reach 3 feet in height.  All parts of the plant are covered by sticky hairs. The leaves are confined mostly to the lower portions of the plant. They are alternate along the stem and comprised of 3-7 leaflets.  Flowering can occur over a protracted period from late spring through fall.  A succession of buds are formed at the top of the stems. Each flower is canary yellow and composed of three petals - the top petal being the largest.  Each bloom is open only in the morning hours, unless the day is extremely cloudy.  Pollinated flowers form pea-like fruit.
Alicia is an interesting species, but lacks most of the characteristics that would make it a good candidate for the home landscape.  It has never been offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN (the Florida Association of Native Nurseries) to the best of my knowledge and is unlikely to in the near future.  This endemic is simply a wildflower to be recognized and admired when encountered in the field.

Chipola coreopsis - Coreopsis integrifolia




Chipola coreopsis (Coreopsis integrifolia) is quite rare in Florida, listed as a state endangered species and vouchered only from 5 counties - all along the Georgia border.  The primary distribution is along the Chipola River in Jackson, Calhoun, and Washington Counties in the central panhandle.  This species is rare elsewhere in its national distribution.  It is listed as a state threatened species in Georgia, where it is found in only four counties near the Florida border, and it is considered an "at risk species" in South Carolina where it is known from only a few southern counties.  In all its natural populations, it occurs in floodplain wetlands, along blackwater streams, where it receives dappled shade and plenty of moisture.
Florida is home to 15 species of coreopsis (tickseeds) and they can sometimes be a bit tricky to differentiate.  Chipola coreopsis is a perennial that dies back to the ground each winter.  In spring, it forms basal rosettes that can spread in all directions by underground rhizomes.  The stems eventually reach a mature height of about 2 feet by late summer.  As the plants spread, multiple flower stalks are common.  They have few branches, but each is topped by a single flower comprised of bright yellow ray petals and a dark central disk.  The flowers are about 18 inches across and each ray petal has three teeth at their outer margin.  Flowering only occurs in late summer to fall.
The foliage is distinctive.  The 1-3 inch long somewhat succulent leaves are opposite each other on the stem, the leaves occur along the entire length of the stem, and they are oval in shape and without teeth along the margins.  As the Latin name implies, the leaf margins are simple.
Chipola coreopsis is quite rare, but is infrequently offered by native plant nurseries.  I have not found it to be an easy species to maintain in the home landscape. It is fussy about its growing conditions. Do not attempt it unless you can give it dependably moist soils and filtered sun.  Under such conditions, it is an attractive fall wildflower that can form stunning masses of color.