Thursday, October 16, 2014
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.
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.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
One more chance this fall to purchase wildflowers from Hawthorn Hill Native Wildflowers, in Seminole, FL. We need to make room before winter for all our new seedlings so we are having a FALL OPEN HOUSE, Sunday October 26, 9 am - 1 pm. All plants will be reduced. Please make plans to stop by, see our landscape and pick up some uncommon native wildflowers. This is the best time to plant! Email me for our current price list, directions, or any questions you might have: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Sleepy hibiscus is a lanky perennial that can reach 6 feet at maturity. As a tropical species, it is evergreen and can bloom much of the year. The photos above were taken in mid-July at my Pinellas County residence. Other writers report that it becomes shrubby, as wide as it can be tall, but the plants I've observed have been rather thin with multiple side branches. The leaves are shallowly lobed, more like a maple than a linden (basswood - Tilia spp.), and somewhat rough to the touch. The stems also have stiff hairs.
Sleepy hibiscus is so named because of its nodding, half-open blooms. They are bright pink in color with a deeper rose-colored throat. Each is 6-8 inches long and quite showy. Their "sleepy" aspect makes it somewhat difficult for butterflies to pollinate them, but they are visited by bees - and hummingbirds in parts of their range.
Sleepy hibiscus is most common to the upper edges of south Florida pinelands and wetlands where they are shallowly inundated during the wetter months. Though not as needy of standing water as many of our native hibiscus, it prefers moisture - especially during the hotter months. It is reported to fare reasonably well in typical upland landscape conditions, but I have found it to need supplemental water if the soils become dry.
Regrettably, this species is only rarely offered for sale in Florida. Currently, no nursery affiliated with FANN- the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, is propagating it and I have not seen it offered for at least a decade. The plants above, were grown from seed collected several years ago in a wet flatwoods in St Lucie County. We hope to be able to propagate it from the seed of our plants this fall to make it available in Spring 2015. Inquire if interested.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Sea lavender is a perennial forb. In Florida, it tends to keep its basal leaves through winter. These are variable in shape, but most frequently are lanceolate and rather succulent in appearance. The multi-branched, nearly leafless flower stalks arise from these leaves and stand about 2 feet tall. Flowering is most common in spring and in fall, but can occur in most months in central and southern Florida. Numerous 5-petal blooms are produced for many weeks, a few at a time. As the common name implies, they are a rich lavender in color. Though each bloom is small (about 1/8 inch across) and opens for only part of the day, plants during the peak blooming season are quite attractive.
Because of its habitat preferences, sea lavender is only sporadically grown by commercial sources and it does not lend itself to the typical landscape setting. It would make an interesting and attractive addition to a salt marsh restoration or for landscapes on the beach that receive direct saltwater inundation.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
This is a perennial herbaceous wildflower that often dies back to the ground each winter and reemerges in the early spring. Mature plants reach a height of 2-3 feet by summer. The leaves are linear and opposite each other on the very hairy stems. Like other members of the genus, pale meadowbeauty forms extensive colonies by underground stems.
Flowering occurs in early summer to fall. The four broad petals recurve slightly backwards and the overall flowers are about 1 inch across. The stamens end in conspicuous yellow curved anthers and, following pollination, the urn-shaped seed capsules are distinctive.
Meadowbeauties, as a genus, are only rarely propagated and sold commercially. All make wonderful additions to a moist-soil setting, if provided sun to mostly sunny conditions.
Zigzag spiderwort is a perennial herbaceous species that dies back to the ground each winter and reemerges in spring. Mature plants are a bit lanky and stand 12-18 inches tall by early summer. Although it looks a lot like common spiderwort, one distinct difference is in the foliage. Zigzag spiderwort's leaves are much broader at the point of attachment to the stem than they are elsewhere. In common spiderwort, the leaves are pretty much uniformly the same width throughout.
The flowers of zigzag spiderwort are similarly shaped to common spiderwort, but tend to be much smaller in size. In all of the plants I have seen, they are light blue in color and there does not seem to be the variability in shades of blue present in common spiderwort.
Although zigzag spiderwort is tough and adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions (provided it is not planted in full sun), it is not currently propagated by anyone associated with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) and it seems unlikely to be anytime soon. This would be an interesting addition to a shade garden as so few wildflowers bloom in summer in shady settings.