Friday, August 19, 2011

Catesby's (Pine) Lily - Lilium catesbaei

Catesby's lily (Lilium catesbaei), also known as the "pine lily", is the most widely distributed member of this genus in Florida.  Found nearly statewide in moist pinelands and open savannas and prairies, Catesby's lily is still a rather uncommon occurrence and is listed as a state-threatened species.  Though widespread, it is extremely sensitive to growing conditions and requires just the right combination of soil moisture, light, and fertility to prosper.  Catesby's lily occurs in similar habitats in much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain - from Louisiana to Virginia and is only listed in Florida.
It is resident to open habitats that routinely become wet to saturated during the summer rainy season.  In the pine flatwoods where I have studied them for many years, they are found in the lower pockets that remain moister than the norm.  In wet flatwoods and prairies, such as Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, they are more uniformly distributed.  Catesby's lilies also require high light levels to prosper.  Areas that become overgrown due to lack of regular fire, soon lose their lily population.  Plants may linger as bulbs beneath the soil surface for years, but may not even produce leaves while they wait for things to open up.  Plants quickly respond to fire; both because it reduces competition from neighboring plants (especially the woody ones) and because it provides a shot of fertilizer in the ash.  Areas that have recently been burned often have significantly larger populations of blooming lilies.
Like other lilies, Catesby's lily loses its leaves in late fall and produces new ones in early spring.  In plants that should bloom, a dense rosette of linear, pointed leaves arises around the bulb; each leaf about 2-3 inches long.  The flower stalk eventually emerges from this rosette in early summer and elongates throughout the next 3 months or so.  By early September, it reaches its mature height of about 2-3 feet.
Individual plants rarely produce more than 1 flower, but these are spectacular.  The blooms vary in color from yellow (a fairly rare color) to almost red, but most are a brilliant orange with darker spots near the base of each petal.  The amount of spotting is also extremely variable - this is seen from my photographs above.  Each flower is 3-4 inches across and remains open for about a week.  They attract a variety of pollinators, but seem to be pollinated mostly by large swallowtail butterflies - especially Palamedes and Spicebush. Blooming in Pinellas County may start in early September and sometimes lingers into December if below freezing temperatures don't arrive.
Pollinated flowers produced elliptical seed capsules about 2 months later.  Each produces hundreds of papery seeds, designed to blow away a short distance from the parent plant.  Few seeds eventually grow into new lilies and it takes several years before they reach maturity and produce flowers.  Plants are also generated by the bulbs.  Like other lilies, mature bulbs produce "bulblets" off the side and these can produce new plants as well.
Though beautiful, Catesby's lily is not easy to grow in the landscape or easy to propagate from seed.  For this reason, it is rarely offered for sale by commercial nurseries - in Florida or elsewhere.  I have had success growing it in my landscape by planting it in large landscape pots set inside a large saucer.  The pots allow me to regulate the potting soil and light, and the large saucer maintains the moisture.  During the summer when rains are more predictable, the saucer stays full and the soil in the pot remains nearly saturated.  Under these conditions, my lilies have fared very well.  I have never had this type of success planting the bulbs directly into my landscape.
Hopefully, this species will become more widely propagated and put into the hands of gardeners capable of growing it.  Catesby's lily is one of my favorite Florida wildflowers and I get a thrill each year when thery come into bloom.  Take a hike through a wet flatwood or prairie in late September-October and look for them. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Michaux's (Carolina) Lily - Lilium michauxii

Thanks to a reader of this blog, Ellen Honeycutt, I have corrected this post.  What I had previously identified from my recent photographs as Turkscap lily (L. superbum), is in fact Michaux's lily (L. michauxii).  Both lilies are species I am not well familiar with in the field, but I think I have them better sorted out now.  Thanks, Ellen!

Michaux's (or Carolina) lily (Lilium michauxii) is a rather common occurrence in the Southeast, but an exceedingly rare species in Florida. It has been reported only from four counties in Florida: Jackson, Gadsden, Walton, and Liberty Counties in mesic woodlands in the central panhandle and is listed here as a state endangered species. Carolina lily is at the southern end of its geographic range in Florida. It occurs north of us throughout much of the Southeast from Texas to Virginia.

I have never seen this species in Florida. These photos were taken in western North Carolina in the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, the plant is commonly seen on open and partly shady slopes in the understory of deciduous forests. Michaux's lily is somewhat similar to another even rarer Florida lily, turkscap lily (L. superbum), but there are some distinct differences.  Turkscap generally stands taller and produces multiple buds and flowers atop its stems.   Turkscap flowers also have a distinctive green "star" pattern inside the throat of the open flower - caused by a triangular green region at the base of each petal. These photos of one of the many Michaux's lilies I recently saw near Cullowhee, North Carolina, show the typical characteristics of this species: smaller stature and single flower atop the stem with no "star" pattern.  The leaves of both are also different.  Michaux's lily has thicker, "fleshier" leaves than turkscap.

Michaux's lily is a beautiful species, but I have always loved lilies in general. Mature specimens reach 2-4 feet in height by their mid-summer blooming time. Though deciduous during the winter, they reach their mature height quickly by early summer. The lanceolate leaves are whorled along the stem and come up nearly to the top; just beneath the buds.
Flowering occurs in the summer and can last for several weeks once it begins. The large buds are produced at the top of the stalks. This is a few-flowered species, like the also-rare panhandle lily (L. iridollae) I have written about previously.  Each plant produces 1 to several flowers per stem; rarely up to 4. These buds open into impressive bright orange flowers with dark spots near the throat. The flowers nod downwards and the petals curl backwards. Each flower may be 3-4 inches across and remains open for about a week. Lily flowers attract butterflies and bees.
Michaux's lily is offered for sale by several native plant sources outside of Florida, but has never been made available by any nursery that I am aware of from Florida. Although I have had success growing other native lilies at Hawthorn Hill, I have never been successful in getting my Michaux's to bloom. Perhaps part of that problem has been the source of my plants, but it also may be my inability to give it the conditions it needs. Each year, my bulbs emerge in the spring, but do little else.
As I grapple with trying to figure my own plants out, I maintain hope that this species will someday be propagated by a Florida native plant nursery. Our native lilies are not easy in a home landscape setting, but I have had success with Catesby's (L. catesbaei) and panhandle lilies by growing them in pots where I can better control light, moisture, and soil conditions.  Under such culture, they have proven to be excellent additions to my wildflower landscape and not that difficult.  If you are a lily admirer, it may be the your best approach as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pineland Daisy - Chaptalia tomentosa

Pineland daisy (Chaptalia tomentosa) is also sometimes called "sunbonnet", but I have not yet found a reference to explain why. The Latin name is a reference to the wooliness of both the leaves and stems.  Pineland daisy occurs throughout all of Florida, except the extreme southern tip, and in much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain from Texas to North Carolina. It is one of only two members of this genus in Florida.  The other, C. albicans, is a state threatened species found only in Miami-Dade County.
Pineland daisy is one of the state's most unique asters and can be confused with almost nothing else once you get to know it.  For most of the year, it exists as a rosette of elongated basal leaves.  Each leaf is 4-6 inches long and deep green on the surface.  The lower surface is covered by a dense mat of white wooly felt.  Over time, individual plants produce mats of multiple plants and small colonies become evident.
Unlike most asters, pineland daisy blooms in the spring.  Multiple flower stalks arise from the center of the basal leaves and each stands 6-8 inches tall.  Oftentimes, the buds are pinkish in color and the undersides of the petals may be that color also.  Normally, the ray and disk flowers are pure white. These extrude from the partially closed bud. The disk flowers themselves having a shape unlike any aster.
Pineland daisy is a wetland plant and it occurs at the edge of freshwater marshes and savannas as well as in wet pine flatwoods.  I have tried to grow this plant many times in my Pinellas landscape, but it does not adapt well to average soil mositure and it has always faded when times become droughty.  For that reason, it has been my experience that it can only be kept in soils that remain moist.  It also prefers filtered sun or some protection from full sun.
This is an interesting and beautiful wildflower and I look for it each spring if I am hiking anywhere in Florida where the trails become moist.  It is not grown commercially in Florida and is unlikely to be in the future.  It has sometimes been offered by out of state sources, but I would be hesistant to try those unless they came from an adjacent state.  This seems to me to simply be a species we should admire in the wild and appreciate when we find it.

Grassleaf Roseling - Callisia graminea

The roselings (Callisia spp.; f.k.a. Cuthbertia spp.) are what I call the "forgotten spiderworts."  They are diminutive and easy to miss while walking in a natural area, but they are especially attractive when viewed up close.  Most have grass-like leaves and all have small pink flowers - like a miniature spiderwort, but not nearly as aggressive in terms of its ability to spread in a landscape.  Florida is home to four species. One is an endemic scrub plant (C. ornata), one is a near-endemic found also in parts of Georgia (C. cordifolia), and another occurs in the Piedmont region of the SE U.S. and in only three Florida counties (C. rosea).  Only grassleaf roseling (C. graminea) occurs over much of Florida and has the adaptibility here to make it a good landscape plant for wildflower gardens.
All roselings are annuals.  Grassleaf roseling, as its common and Latin names suggest, has grass-like leaves that form a clump about 8 inches across and 6-8 inches high.  From this small mound, the flower stalks emerge in late spring to early summer; standing another inch or two above the foliage.  Tiny pink blooms open in the morning and close by early afternoon; similar to those of its close relatives the spiderworts.  Each flower lasts for only that short period, but new flowers are produced daily for many weeks.
Grassleaf roseling occurs in a variety of upland habitats, but is most evident in mesic pinelands in areas of sufficient sunlight.  It is not a fussy plant, but does not do well in habitat extremes. 
Though spiderworts are commonly propagated for home landscapes, the roselings are not. Their small size and annual nature make them poor subjects for most gardens, but they will reseed and persist when planted in conditions that are favorable.  The key is having a bit of open soil for the seeds to germinate in.  Do not attempt this plant in heavily mulched situations.
We grow this species from time to time at Hawthorn Hill.  Currently, we have a few extra plants and we hope to get enough seed from the ones we don't sell to keep it in our inventory.  If you are interested, please ask.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jewelweed - Impatiens capensis

As a Midwesterner by birth, I remember jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) as a common woodland wildflower.  In Florida, it is at the extreme southern limit of its range and occurs only in 2 panhandle counties (Jackson and Liberty) and has been reported also from Volusia Coounty on the east coast.  Though we can claim it as a native plant, it is certainly not a common occurrence in our woodlands like it is in states to our north. Jewelweed (or touch-me-not, as it is sometimes called) occurs throughout nearly all of North America, from the Yukon to Texas and across to the Atlantic. 
Jewelweed is an annual. Seedlings emerge in early spring and quicky grow to a mature height of about 3-4 feet.  The stems are succulent (like the non-native impatiens so commonly used in Florida landscapes) and numerous side stems are produced along the main stalk.  Sap from the main stalk relieves the itch of mosquito bites and poison ivy exposure, and recent research has shown that it also has anti-fungal properties that can be used to treat such ailments as athelete's foot.
Jewelweed is a lanky plant, but its broad ovate leaves give it some aesthetic character as a foliage plant.  The blooms, however, are what make it a worthy home landscape plant.  For several months from summer to fall , jewelweed produces large orange flowers along the main stems.  Each has a deep throat and they are of special interest to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. 
In nature, this species occurs in light gaps within deciduous forest habitats, usually in low areas along swales and slow moving creeks.  It cannot take a lot of sunlight nor can it withstand prolonged drought and survive.  In a landscape setting, it should be used as an understory wildflower in moist rich soil, but it should not be used under evergreen trees such as live oaks unless it can get ample sunlight in the late winter and spring.
Jewelweed has never, to my knowledge, been offered by Florida native nurseries, but is is widely propagated to our north.  Because of its annual nature and its restricted growing requirements, it would be a difficult plant to add to most Florida landscapes, but if you reside in north Florida and have the right type of soil and canopy conditions it needs, it might be worth giving it a try.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Joe-pye Weed - Eupatorium fistulosum

Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum) is an extremely common component of open wet meadows and marshes throughout most of eastern North America, but is confined mostly to the northern portions of Florida.  In Florida, its distribution is disjunct.  It occurs in most panhandle counties and in a separate region around Orange, Lake, Polk, Seminole, and Osceola Counties in the interior.
The taxonomy of this species seems a bit confused and it gets moved back and forth out of the genus Eupatorium from time to time.  Currently, most Florida taxonomists have it there, but others list it under Eupatoriadelphis. Regardless, it is the same species.
Joe-pye weed is a favorite among butterfly gardeners because its large showy heads of lavender pink blossoms are nectaring magnets, and a favorite among wildflower enthusiasts because of the visual impact this plant makes in the garden.  Though it naturally occurs mostly in wet to very moist soil conditions, joe-pye weed can handle typical garden settings except extremely droughty soils. That may be why its use in much of Florida is limited.
This is a deciduous herbaceous perennial. It makes its appearance known each spring and then quickly grows upward to achieve a mature height of 5-7 feet by summer.  The stems are stout and the whorled leaves are thick and coarse.  Each is  about 5-6 inches long and noticeably toothed. The large corymbs of lavender pink flowers open in mid summer and last for weeks.
A stand of joe-pye weed is stunning in bloom, but the plants are difficult to control.  The truth is..., joe-pye weed suckers aggressively throughout the garden when conditions are to its liking.  It does not play nice with its neighbors and it easily outcompetes smaller, less aggressive ones.  For this reason, it is best used as a accent patch near a pond or marsh edge.  In such a setting, it will limit itself to the moist areas. It performs best in sunny and partly sunny locations, but it can survive shadier sites if kept moist.  It just doesn't bloom well under too much shade.
Currently, joe-pye weed is not grown by nurseries listed with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but is widely available from native-plant nurseries in states to our immediate north.  If you are truly interested in adding it to your landscape, choose a source as close to your home as possible and start with just a few individual plants.  If it is happy where you plant it, you will soon have more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hoary Skullcap - Scutellaria incana

Hoary skullcap (Scutellaria incana) occurs in the panhandle region of Florida and throughout much of the eastern U.S. Throughout its range, it is a species of dry open woodlands and openings. 
Hoary skullcap is a perennial deciduous herbaceous mint.  It emerges early in the spring and eventually reaches its mature height of about 2-3 feet by summer.  This is a rather lanky plant; taller than wide.  The foliage is arrow-shaped (deltoid). Each leaf has noticeable toothed margins and the veins are distinct and "netted."
Flowering occurs in summer. Many buds are produced at the tips of the main stems and flowers are produced for many weeks from June-August.  Like other members of this genus (and many in the family), each bloom is tubular with a pronounced lower lip.  The overall color is a rich purple/lavender, but the outer side of the petals is white.  This can be variable, however. Skullcap flowers are pollinated by bees.
Though our native mints make wonderful additions to the home landscape, few of the skullcaps are grown commercially in Florida. I am not aware of hoary skullcap ever being offered by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but it is propagated by several nurseries north of Florida.  We just recently acquired some material and will be testing it out in our landscape at Hawthorn Hill. Perhaps someday, we can make this beautiful native mint available to others.
The landscape range of this plant has not been tested.  Until it is, it would be best to limit its use to the northern third of Florida.  Plant it in sunny locations and mass it in clusters of 5-7 plants for best effect. Hoary skullcap wold be best used with other medium-tall wildflowers and should perform well in nearly any typical home landscape setting. Though it prefers a sunny location, it will do fine in partial sun as well.

Orange Coneflower - Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) is a close relative of the ubiquitous black-eyed susan (R. hirta), but is far less common here in Florida.  Whereas black-eyed susan occurs nearly statewide in Florida, orange coneflower is scattered across several central panhandle counties and south to Taylor and Dixie Counties in the "Big Bend" region of the northwestern peninsula.  Outside of Florida, this wildflower is extremely common as well.  Its geographical range extends from Texas in the west, Ontario to the north, and east at these latitudes to the Atlantic.
Throughout its range, orange coneflower is found in sunny to partly sunny locations in average uplands in average soils.  It can be found in moist sites, but is more often present in locations decidedly mesic.  In most aspects, it is similar to its close cousin, black-eyed susan - just a bit more robust.  Orange coneflower often stands 2-3 feet tall when in bloom and the flowers in Florida tend to be a bit broader. One major difference between the two is that orange coneflower is a perennial while black-eyed susan is an annual or, at best, a biennial. The other difference lies in the hairs along the main stems.  Black-eyed susan is hirsute - the hairs occur on all sides of the stem and are bristly.  The hairs on orange coneflower are strigose; mostly appressed along the stem instead of standing out in all directions.
The foliage of orange coneflower is highly variable.  In the variety found in Florida, R. fulgida var fulgida, the leaves at the upper portion of the stem are about the same size as the lower leaves.  In var. sullivantii, found in areas north of Florida, the upper leaves are noticeably reduced.
Orange coneflower is an adaptable and beautiful wildflower and should be used far more in Florida than it currently is.  Although it is widely available from native plant sources to our north, it is not currently propagated by any nursery in Florida affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  This is regrettable as this species is adaptable to at least the northern third of the state. I do not have experience with it outside of north Florida, though we recently acquired some specimens that we hope to evaluate.
Use this species like you would black-eyed susan.  It does best planted in mass and mixed with other medium tall wildflowers and native grasses.

Shrubby St. John's-wort - Hypericum prolificum

Shrubby St. John's-wort (Hypericum prolificum) is considered to be native to Florida, but this nativity is based on one collection made in Volusia County in 1848.  For all practical purposes, it is a species of states to our north.  Shrubby St. John's-wort occurs throughout the eastern half of the US and in Ontario. 
This is an upland species, but adapted to a wide variety of soil and light conditions.  Such adaptability has made it one of the most commonly grown species in the genus and it is offered by many native plant nurseries outside of Florida.  Named cultivars are also sometimes offered.
Shrubby St. John's-wort attains a mature height of about 3 feet.  The mounded appearance is attractive and the linear blue-green leaves and reddish stems add to its aesthetic qualities.  This is a deciduous species. The bark of mature specimens is coppery in color and peels in small sheets. 
Flowering occurs a bit later than most species; July and into August.  The flowers are a deep canary yellow and large in size.  Abundant stamens surround the carpel.  These prolific structures give it its Latin name.
I have only begun experimenting with this beautiful species in our Florida garden.  As it has not been seen in Florida for nearly 200 years, it is not propagated by any Florida native plant nursery and there is no information on its cultivation here.  Our plant originated from a North Carolina nursery.  Over the next few years, it is our intention to test its adaptability to our landscape conditions.  Perhaps we will return it as a viable landscape choice for Florida gardeners. 
Its great beauty and tolerance to a wide diversity of growing conditions in nature, make it a candidate worth investing in.