Sunday, June 30, 2013

Florida Scrub Roseling - Callisia ornata



Florida scrub roseling (Callisia ornata) (fka Cuthbertia ornata) is endemic to the scrub and sandhill habitats of the Florida peninsula, south to Collier County. Roselings are very close relatives of the spiderworts (Tradescantia spp.) and the dayflowers (Commelina spp.), both very common almost weedy genera, but roselings are diminutive in comparison and not likely to ever be encountered in your lawn. The four native species in Florida are somewhat difficult to tell apart at first glance. Florida scrub roseling is distinguished by its very thin, grasslike leaves all the way up the stem and the fact that its flower scape is held well above the nearest leaves.
Roselings are annuals. Large numbers of seed are produced the previous fall. The tiny, grasslike plants emerge in the spring and eventually they form a basal rosette of bright green leaves. Each rosette is about 2 inches across.
In Florida scrub roseling, the flower stalk eventually reaches a height of about 12 inches. The bright 3-petal pink flowers each open for one day, in succession for several weeks. These blooms are visited by a wide variety of pollinators and the ripened seed is scattered below the parent by late summer/early fall.  The flowers, above, were photographed in late June.
Roselings are not uncommon, but are difficult to distinguish when not in bloom.  Their attractive pink flowers should lend them the qualities sought for landscape purposes, but their annual nature makes them very difficult to keep in a typical mixed wildflower bed.  To persist, they need open, sandy soil and the ability to move about the bed. Since they aren't currently being propagated, it is best to simply admire their simple beauty as you hike Florida's most xeric habitats in mid-summer - a time too few of us get out to explore this amazing state of ours.

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