Friday, January 3, 2014

Blueflower Eryngo - Eryngium integrifolium

Blueflower eryngo (Eryngium integrifolium) is actually one of many "snakeroots" with blue button-shaped flowers.  It is also sometimes referred to as "bog eryngo" as it is most common in open wet prairies, savannas, and bogs.  This is a species restricted in Florida to the Panhandle counties and a few other counties in northeast Florida.  It is distributed outside of Florida in all the Southeastern states.
Bluefower eryno is easily distinguished from other species in this genus by its arrow-shaped leaves that clasp the main stem and are deeply notched along the margin.  It is a perennial forb.  The basal leaves can be up to 4 inches long and have stalks.  These are evident in early spring.  The main stem arises from these leaves shortly after. It is slender and reaches a mature height of 2-3 feet by summer. The stem produces multiple side branches near the top and the flowers are formed at the top of each.  These are about 1/2 inch across, rounded in shape, and composed of many tiny blue flowers.  Each flower head is subtended by long thin bracts that also are blue in color.
Eryngiums are in the carrot family and a few are used by the larvae of the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly.  Blueflower eryngo, however, has not been reported as one of those species and it is likely not a good candidate for a butterfly garden.  This species has never been offered for sale commercially by any nursery associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  Look for it in late summer in the same type of open wetland that you might find pitcher plants and grass pink orchids.

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