Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Seaside Primrosewillow - Ludwigia maritima

Despite its common and Latin names, seaside primrosewillow (Ludwigia maritima) is not restricted to coastal habitats and occurs throughout Florida in moist areas including wet prairies and pine flatwoods. These photographs were taken in a moist area within pine flatwoods in north Pinellas County. Seaside primrosewillow also occurs in much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain from Louisiana to North Carolina.
Florida has a great many native and nonnative primrose willows, making identification sometimes a bit difficult. This species reaches a height of about 2 1/2 feet and has a slender aspect with few side branches. The stems are reddish with coarse hairs and the leaves are willow-like, alternate on the stem, and several inches long. It is perennial, but typically dies back to the ground in winter and re-emerges in early spring. 
Blooming occurs from late spring through late fall. Like most species in this genus, the flowers are composed of 4 bright yellow petals. Each petal is quite rounded and the entire flower is about 1 inch across. They occur in the axils of the stem and seem to be of special interest to bees - especially bumblebees. Once the flowers are pollinated, the decidedly rounded seed capsules form. 
Primrose willows as a group often seem to get a bad rap due to their highly invasive relative Peruvian primrose willow (L. peruviana). This is a shame as many of our native species are well behaved and attractive in their own right. I think seaside primrosewillow is definitely one of the handsomest. It would be easy to propagate from seed collected after the seed capsules turn brown. 

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