Friday, June 14, 2019

Skyblue Aster - Symphyotrichum oolentangiense

Flowers, June 12 2019

Whole plant in my home landscape
Skyblue aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense) is a rather tall member of the true aster genus found naturally in only four counties in the central Panhandle region of Florida adjacent to our border with Georgia. It currently is not considered native to Florida according to the Institute of Systematic Botany site (ISB) maintained by the University of South Florida, but seems likely to actually occur here naturally and I suspect its nativity status to be changed to reflect that. Skyblue aster is a very widespread species in North America and occurs in every state north of us, except South Carolina and a few mid-Atlantic states, from Georgia west to Texas and north to Minnesota and New York. It also has been documented in Ontario. Its long scientific name is derived from the location of where it was first described by Riddell in 1835 - in open forested habitat along the Oolentangy River in Franklin County, Ohio.
Throughout its range it is most commonly found in open woodlands where it gets ample sunlight, but not full sun. In these locations, it occurs in typical woodland soils with average moisture.
In the landscape, however, skyblue aster does not seem to be particularly fussy about its growing conditions. Although it makes an excellent addition to a partly sunny location in the landscape, I have planted mine in a mostly sunny spot that is shaded only from mid-afternoon on into evening.
This is a tall and lanky species, sending up multiple stems from its base that may reach three feet tall or slightly more by fall. The basal leaves are distinctly heart shaped and about six inches long, but the leaves become more elliptical as they go up the stems.

Leaves near the base.
Despite the common name, there is variability in the flower color. The one in my current landscape is a light lavender blue - not the richer sky blue seen in other plants. The flowers can occur from early summer into early fall at the tips of the long stems. Each flower head is rather small - no more than an inch across, and with a central disc that starts out yellow in color and fades to a slate grey as it matures. Like all asters, these blooms attract the attention of pollinating insects.
This species is currently being propagated in Florida as a native wildflower. I purchased mine at Native Nurseries of Tallahassee, but I do not know their wholesale grower source. It is widely available outside Florida from wildflower nurseries. Over the years, I have tried to add as many Symphyotrichum asters to my landscape as possible to increase the diversity of my pollinator garden. So far, this species has been a good addition.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ipomoea purpurea - Tall Morning Glory

Florida is home to a great many native species of morning glories. The vast majority occur within the genus, Ipomoea and a few somewhat aggressive non-natives. As morning glories are much beloved landscape plants, some of the introduced species have wide distributions. Tall morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) is one of those. I have not seen this species in "the wild", but it has been added to home landscapes in much of Florida. The photos above were taken of plants that I found growing on the north fence in the backyard of my new home in Pasco County. It has been vouchered growing in natural areas from only six counties distributed in north and central Florida, but I suspect it is more widely distributed than this. A check of the USDA database shows that it is reported as introduced in all but two of the Lower 48 states in North America and in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. I rarely have included non-native plants within this blog, but I have made an exception here for this species just to make clear that it is not a native Florida (or North American) species.

Tall morning glory is an apt common name for this species as it is an especially vigorous grower.  The plants in my new backyard have spread into the upper canopy of all my neighbor's trees and across the vacant lot behind me on the ground.  The first time that I mowed my new yard, I beheaded countless stems that had been rambling across it.  Since that time, I have confined mostly to one fence and it provides about the only nectar/pollen in my landscape right now. It's value to that effect is shown in the top photo of a Southeastern blueberry bee.

Tall morning glory has beautiful sky blue flowers that are produced year round unless there is a hard freeze. It is extremely easy to grow and not especially fussy about growing conditions. It's heart-shaped leaves also are attractive , though the target of various small insect pests.

If you contemplate adding a morning glory to your fence, there are perhaps better, native, species that would be better choices.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Hairypod Cowpea - Vigna luteola

There are a great many beans/legumes native to Florida and quite a few that are not native. It is a widespread family and members can be found in nearly every habitat type found here. Some are difficult for me to tell apart on first glance as they are various shades of pink and light lavender and have the typical 3-parted compound leaf. A few are white, but very few are bright canary yellow. That is the attribute that aids me with this one when I encounter it in the field.
Hairypod cowpea, (Vigna luteola), is essentially found statewide, though it has not been vouchered in the Ocala/Lake Wales Ridge counties and a few in the Panhandle. This may well be an oversight as small, somewhat less-grandiose, species do not seem to be collected as avidly as the showier ones. Besides Florida, it is known throughout the Southeast Coastal Plain from Texas to Virginia and seems to also occur in Pennsylvania. Throughout this extended range, it is most common in mesic open sites.
Hairypod cowpea is a weak-stemmed vining perennial. Its many stems twine through the adjacent vegetation - it does not have tendrils. As it twines, it can partially smother the plants it climbs upon. Normally, its blooms rise an inch or two above the foliage. Both the leaflets and the bean-shaped seed pods are "hairy".
The flowers are bright canary yellow and quite attractive. Like most legumes, the lower petal is fused into a keeled lip and the petals above it are fused into "ears".  Flowering can occur during most months, except winter in the northern half of the state.
Most twining legumes are difficult in a mixed wildflower planting because of their bad behavior and, thus, they are rarely propagated for the home landscape by native nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of  Native Nurseries. They tend to have value to the hardcore butterfly gardener, however, and should be made more available because of that. Hairy cowpea is a known larval host plant for the gray hairstreak, dorantes skipper, and long-tailed skipper. Although each of these butterflies also oviposits on other, less rambling species, adding hairy cowpea is useful to a butterfly garden where these three butterflies are to be considered. Finding plants from nurseries may be very difficult so look for the ripening beans during most months, harvest a few before they are completely dry and keep then in a closed paper bag until they split open. Such ripe pods burst open vigorously and you may actually hear them inside the paper bag. Sow the seed just below the soil surface and germination should occur within 2-3 weeks.

I have a few extra seed that I will share

I am mostly done planting seed for the 2019 season at Hawthorn Hill and I have a few seed left over of a very few species that I would share with you on a first come / first served basis. Let me know which species you are interest5ed in AND send me a SASE of sufficient size and with sufficient postage. The only catch is that the seed ONLY be used for your personal gardening efforts - NO COMMERCIAL use is warranted. I do not sell seed and I don;t expect you to make a profit off of it either....... Thanks

1. Chrysoma paucifoculosa - Woody goldenrod
2. Dalea pinnata - Summer farewell
3. Carphephorus corymbosus - Florida paintbrush
4 Liatris gracilis - Graceful blazing star
5.Liatris savannensis - Savanna blazing star

I have recently moved to Holiday, FL - which is just over the Pinellas border in Pasco County. I hope to have my annual Spring Sale in April or early May. I will post this when I set a date.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all of you.

Email me first about availability -
Then send your SASE to my new home address:
1648 Paragon PL
Holiday, FL  34690

 Woody goldenrod
 Graceful blazing star
 Summer farewell
Florida paintbrush

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fall Open House - Saturday September 29


I will be holding what may well be my final Open House at Hawthorn Hill this coming Saturday, September 29. My wife and I are parting ways and she is putting our home on the market shortly. Until I find a new residence and have the ability to propagate plants, I will be forced to (temporarily) shut down this aspect of my life. EVERYTHING must go except for my stock plants - so there will be deals to be had.  I would love to have my plants find a new home where they can flourish.

I hope to be back by spring, but there is a lot of uncertainty right now..........

My address is: 9900 133rd St, Seminole, FL  33776
My email (if you have questions or wish to get an updates list is:
My phone (should you wish to speak to me directly is: (727) 422-6583

Hours: 9 am - 1 pm.

I plan to take everything that goes unsold to a local native plant nursery.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Coastalplain Hawkweed - Hieracium megacephalon

Coastalplain hawkweed (Hieracium megacephalon) is one of many such Asteraceae members that get mistaken for dandelions.  It is not one, of course, and is the sole member of this genus found in Florida.  It is found nearly statewide here, but is not an endemic as it also has been vouchered in Georgia.
Some might also call this a "weed", and it fits that description a bit since it is common in a wide variety of upland habitats and tends to reseed well into disturbed areas. "Weeds" are not necessarily unattractive or undesirable, however. Coastalplain hawkweed produces showy flower heads that can be up to 1 inch in width. The lemon yellow petals open in the morning and close by mid-afternoon. They attract a variety of pollinating invertebrates.  Flowers can be produced year round in frost-free portions of the state, but elsewhere are visible from spring to late fall.  The stalks are about  18 inches tall when grown in sunny locations.
Coastalplain hawkweed is a perennial forb. The leaves are elliptical in shape and normally 2-3 inches long. The leaves and stems are covered by coarse "hairs". 
This is not a species I've ever seen offered by commercial nurseries, but it would be easy to propagate from seed. As mature seed is available most months, collect a few from sites where this would be legal, and sow them slightly below the soil surface. Just realize that it is likely to spread once established.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pineland Pinklet - Stenandrium dulce

Pineland pinklet (Stenandrium dulce) is a low-growing perennial wildflower reported from most of the southern half of peninsular Florida. It also has been reported from Georgia and Texas as well as much of Central and South America to Chile.  Throughout its range, it prefers moist open habitats such as seasonally wet savannas and pinelands.
Pineland pinklet is diminutive in stature. Normally its ovate to somewhat linear leaves hug the ground as a basal rosette. They are deep green in color and somewhat fleshy. Flowering in south Florida can occur in most months, but is limited to summer and fall further north.  The flower stalk typically stands 3-4 inches in height and the deep pink blooms measure about 1/2 inch wide. The center is white and some white streaking may occur on the 5 petals.  As its Latin name implies, they are sweetly fragrant. 
Currently, few south Florida native wildflowers are being propagated by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. To me, the reason is unclear as most of the endemic and locally native woody species have found their way to market. Pineland pinklet would seem to be a wonderful wildflower for cultivation. Its low stature and beautiful blossoms would make it an ideal candidate for the outer border of a wildflower planting. It also is a reliable reseeder and spreads in sunny moist locations where it is most comfortable.  Regrettably, I rarely see it offered and none of the nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, currently list it for sale. Hopefully, this will change soon as more demand for south Florida wildflowers (and wildflowers in general) increases.