Sunday, August 29, 2010
Flyr's Nemesis - Brickellia cordifolia
I have previously posted a blog on this species, but wanted to update it with some better close-up photos and some more first-hand knowledge of its propagation...
Flyr's nemesis (Brickellia cordifolia) is a state-listed endangered species found in a handful of upland sandy locations in the central panhandle and in Alachua County outside of Gainesville. It also occurs in a few locations in Georgia and Alabama. How it got its common name is a mystery I have not yet solved, but its Latin species name comes from its heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are opposite on the stems and toothed.
Flyr's nemesis is a semi-woody, perennial member of the aster family that dies back to the ground each winter and re-emerges again in the spring. It produces many stems at the ground level and eventually reaches a mature height of up to 5 feet. A well-grown plant resembles a young beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) somewhat and the stems sometimes arch over in much the same manner. But, nothing really resembles this plant by late August to early September when it blooms.
Flyr's nemesis produces a great many heads of soft pink flowers in small clusters atop each stem. There are no ray flowers, as in many of the asters - only disc flowers with extremely elongated styles that give each flower head a distinctive spidery appearance. Flowering occurs for 3 weeks or more and the blooms are especially attractive to butterflies.
Despite its natural rarity, Flyr's nemesis is not difficult to grow or propagate. It requires well-drained sandy soils, but tolerates partial shade as well as sunnier locations. Give individual specimens plenty of room and plant them near the back edge of a mixed wildflower garden. This interesting and beautiful wildflower has recently been offered by a north Florida native plant nursery and we can only hope that this grower keeps it in propagation. Currently, we are evaluating it in our gardens at Hawthorn Hill - well south of its natural range, and we hope to find that its use can be extended at least to central Florida in home landscapes. If we succeed, we will have seedlings available next summer. Check back with us if you wish.