Monday, April 20, 2015
Hairyjoint Meadowparsnip - Thaspium barbinode
Hairyjoint meadowparsnip is a perennial that dies back to the ground in fall and reemerges in early spring. It is an upland species, most commonly present in woodland slopes in our region of the US where it gets some protection from the summer sun. It will not fare well, however, in deep shade. Further north, it occurs in rich prairie soils in high sun. Very little has been written about it in the Deep South, but my Florida plants do not reach the size of those in the Midwest Prairie States. In places like Illinois and Missouri, the basal leaves may reach 12 inches long and the plants stand 4-5 feet tall when flowering. The three plants I have in my landscape are only about half that size and likely represent the stature of those in Jackson County - though I have not seen this plant in the wild in Florida. The foliage is more than once compound (decompound), while T. trifoliatum is simply trifoliate. Where the petiole attaches to the stem, noticeable hairs are evident at this "joint" - hence its common name. Each leaflet is sharply toothed.
Flowering occurs in early spring. Those in our landscape begin flowering in March on 3-foot-tall stalks. The tiny yellow flowers are arranged in circular clusters (umbels) and they attract a wide variety of small bees and other pollinators. Small, reddish brown seeds follow about 3 weeks later.
Native carrot family species are in great demand by butterfly gardeners as larval food for the Eastern black swallowtail. Many of our native wildflowers in this family are either wetland plants and difficult to keep in a landscape, or (like most Eryngiums) not used. This is a good exception. Though I have not yet had caterpillars on our plants, it is reported to be used in other states and I suspect it is here too. This species has just recently come into cultivation (like its cousin, golden alexander, Zizia aurea) by Trillium Gardens in Tallahassee. Our plants have done well in our Pinellas County landscape for several years without much attention so I suspect it can be used in most of north and central Florida as long as its growing requirements are met.