Saturday, July 11, 2015

Matchweed/Fog Fruit - Phyla nodiflora




Matchweed/Fog fruit (Lippia nodiflora) is a creeping perennial herbaceous ground cover found statewide in disturbed and moist sites. It also is found throughout the southern half of the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.  This ubiquitous native wildflower is also found as a lawn weed - especially in lawns that are regularly irrigated. It is evergreen in all but the coldest climates
Matchweed forms dense mats in locations where its habitat needs are met. The thin stems creep in all directions and it roots periodically at the nodes.  Deep green oval leaves are opposite on the stems and toothed at the outer margins.  Because of its growth habit, it rarely stands taller than 2-3 inches above the ground.
Flowering can occur year round in frost-free parts of Florida and summer through fall elsewhere. Small drum heads stand above the foliage and tiny white to pinkish flowers are produced regularly in small numbers, in procession from the base to the top of the heads for many weeks.  The blooms are attractive, though quite small. Showiness is accentuated when this plant occurs in mass.
The flowers are excellent nectar sources for small butterflies and bees. The foliage serves as the larval food for Common Buckeyes, White Peacocks, and Phaon Crescents (pictured above).  Because of this, it is often incorporated into butterfly gardens by those seeking to provide for these beautiful butterflies.
Matchweed is widely available from commercial sources. It can be a valuable addition to the landscape, but needs more moisture than some landscapes can effectively provide.  It also can be a bit of a nuisance if the intent is to mix it with a wide variety of other wildflowers. It works best in areas where it can form a monoculture, or along the edges of drainage ditches and in swales. I have seen it make a very attractive (and ecologically valuable) ground cover in lieu of turf, but in drier locations it will not perform well and can be a disappointment.

1 comment:

  1. I love this little plant - we always picked them as children and would say "Momma had a baby and her head popped off!" then flick off the flower head with our thumb. I have no idea where that came from... but all the children knew it.

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