Sunday, June 7, 2015

Coastalplain Dawnflower - Stylisma patens


Coastalplain dawnflower (Stylisma patens) is common to upland habitats throughout the northern 2/3's of Florida and also occurs throughout the Southeast Coastal Plain from Louisiana to North Carolina.  Like other members of this genus (except S. aquatica), this is a thin-stemmed vine that creeps across the ground in all directions from the main stem and bears snow-white flowers.  All four of our native white-flowered upland species are most easily separated by the size and shape of their leaves.  Coastalplain dawnflower is no exception.  Unlike the others, its leaves are extremely narrow. These are members of the morning glory family and the solitary 3/4-1 inch blooms open in the morning and start to fade by afternoon.  They are pure white and remain open for only one day.  During that time, they draw the attention of a great many pollinators - especially the small bees and wasps.
Dawnflowers are not especially showy, but the sprawling mass of crystalline white flowers can be quite attractive during the late spring and early summer months. They also are not likely to attract much attention from home gardeners as their sprawling habit requires that they be given a lot of space. I am not aware that any of our native species have ever been offered for sale by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  Despite that, I always appreciate their presence while I am hiking in Florida's uplands. Look for them.

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