Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lanceleaf tickseed - Coreopsis lanceolata


My wife, Alexa, and I first came upon this wonderful wildflower for the first time on our honeymoon trip through north Florida state parks and preserves.  We gave it the "common" name of "Honeymoon coreopsis" because of that.  To most of the world, however, it is lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata). Lanceleaf tickseed is found throughout the panhandle and the northern third of the peninsula - and throughout much of the Southeast besides.  It seems to thrive in moister soils, but it also occurs in much drier locations; in sandhills, roadsides, and open fields.  As such, it is one of the few tickseeds that performs well in typical home landscape conditions.
Lanceleaf tickseed is a perennial that often maintains some of its basal leaves throughout the winter.  In spring, it adds a flush of new growth and occurs as a dense cluster of basal leaves.  As its common name implies, the leaves of this plant are mostly lance shaped.  As the leaves begin to go up the stem, however, a great many of them are multi-lobed (3-5 lobes, generally).  The photos above show this fairly well.
Blooming can occur over a number of months from March - July, but is most common in late spring.  The flowers are not held as high above the basal foliage as many in this genus; often only about 12 inches, but sometimes up to 2 feet.  The ray and disk flowers are yellow and the ray petals are deeply notched.
Because of its adaptability, attractive foliage and wonderful blooms, lanceleaf coreopsis is widely available from commercial sources.  It is also fairly easy to grow.  We have maintained this wildflower in our Pinellas County landscape since collecting a few seeds from a mowed roadside in 2007.  It has reseeded and prospered despite being 100 miles south of its natural range.
Use this wildflower near the front half of a planting bed.  It looks good planted in mass or combined with other species in a mixed planting.  Let it go to seed and do not mulch the planting areas heavily so it can spread a bit.  Because the basal rosette of leaves may be 18-24 inches across, plant individuals no closer than 2 feet on center. 
Alexa and I love our "honeymoon coreopsis" for its color and its foliage.  We hope you will explore it a bit more if you haven't already.

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