Sunday, March 26, 2023

Hairyjoint Meadow Parsnip - Thaspium barbinode - Update

Hairyjoint meadow parsnip (Thaspium barbinode) is a rare-in-Florida member of the carrot family, vouchered only from Jackson County in the north-central Panhandle with several other possible records elsewhere from Walton and Duval counties - all in extreme north Florida.  It is common to our north, however, and is recorded throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S.  Throughout its range, it is found in moist forested areas, and along streams and ponds and occasionally prairies in full sun to partial shade although shade may impact its growth and number of blooms. It is a perennial that dies back to the ground in winter and reemerges in spring.  

This is a robust wildflower that will eventually reach a mature height of 4-6 feet.  The stems and stem branches have noticeably stiff hairs which give it its common name, but these are not easily seen unless looked at close-up. Like many other members of the carrot family (Apiaceae), it has compound leaves.  They alternate along the stem, but are most abundant near the base,  Each is toothed, 1-2 inches across and up to 1 inch wide.  Leaves ascending the main stem become smaller, and all are minutely "hairy" - especially along the veins and edges.

Flowering occurs in spring.  The umbels of bright yellow flowers in clusters of 10-20 flowers each, are 1-2 inches wide. The tiny individual flowers are all stalked and comprised of five petals that fold inwards. Pollinated flowers form brown oblong seeds by late summer that often remain attached to the stems even as the stems die and fall to the ground.  These can be collected and sown.

I have not cultivated this species previously,  The above photos were taken of plants I purchased from a native plant nursery north of Florida.  It is reported that hairyjoint meadow parsnip is tolerant of a wide variety of soils and growing conditions though it prefers moist (not wet) soil and at least half-day sun.  As a member of the Apiaceae, it is a host for the eastern black swallowtail.  It also attracts a variety of pollinators to its flowers.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Mauve - Abutilon hulseanum


Mauve flower

Mauve (Abutilon hulseanum) is one of only two members of this widely occurring genus native to Florida.  The other member, coastal Indian mallow (A. permolle) has been vouchered only from extreme south Florida with a disjunct collection from Manatee County while mauve  has a sporadic distribution throughout peninsular Florida.  It also is reported from Louisiana, Texas, Mexico and the West Indies.  According to Kew Gardens, it is originally from Central America and probably Cuba and Florida.   After going through the photos and labels for specimens in the SIEnet database, the only occurrences in Florida that were convincingly in natural systems (as opposed to highly disturbed areas) were on shell mounds, dunes, and similar coastal sites.  Hence, its true natural distribution in Florida is likely confined to the west coast of the state. Regardless, throughout its current range it is most common to disturbed upland sites in full to partial sun.  In short, it is somewhat weedy by nature. That, of course, is not a value judgement but a statement of its ecological niche.

Mauve gets its rather drab common name from the color of its blooms. As can be seen in the photo above, the five petals (the standard number for plants in the Malvaceae) are a rosy pink in color.  These often start out as yellowish before they assume this color. The blooms are produced near the tops of the stout, almost-woody stems, from winter through late spring in Florida, though sporadic flowering can occur later in the year.  

Mauve is a perennial that reaches about 6 feet tall at maturity.  The erect stems are covered by stiff hairs and are rough to the touch.  Elongated stipules are present at the base of the petiole where it attaches to the stem and the leaves (like many members of this family) are heart-shaped and solitary.  They are normally about 2-3 inches long.

The seed capsules that form after flowering are technically called a schizocarp.  These turn dark brown to almost black at maturity and split open along the carpal lines.  Each contains 4-6 seeds per carpal.  

Mauve flowers attract the attention of a wide variety of pollinators, but it is not known as a host to any butterfly or moth native to our state.  Those that have incorporated it into their landscapes report that it can spread by seed if not contained, but it can make a useful and interesting addition if some care is taken to remove the seed capsules before they mature and split open.  This plant is easy to grow and forgiving of a wide variety of landscape settings except too much shade and wet soils.  It is infrequently offered by native nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.

Seed Capsule

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Glade Windflower - Anemone berlandieri


Glade windflower (aka 10-petal thimbleweed) (Anemone berlandieri) is an early spring ephemeral native to Jackson and Washington Counties in the central Panhandle and five counties in the Big Bend region of western peninsular Florida.  In these areas, it is most common in well-drained sunny locations such as roadsides and open hammocks.  These photos were taken recently near Goethe State Forest in Levy County along a 2-lane highway.  This beautiful wildflower is also recorded in other states of the Southeast Coastal Plain from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to Virginia on the East Coast, though it is quite rare from Georgia north.

Glade windflower dies back to the ground by summer after blooming and setting seed and it is one of the first wildflowers to emerge in spring.  It produces a few basal leaves near the ground which can be difficult to detect amongst the other vegetation.  Their shape is detailed in the photo above.  A single flower stalk arises from these basal leaves in late January to early February in Florida.  This stalk stands between 6 and 12 inches tall.  The common name "Ten-petal thimbleweed" is a misnomer as the 10 "petals" are actually sepals - the parts of a flower bud that typically cover the petals before the bloom opens. There are no true petals in the case of this wildflower.  The sepals can be anywhere from white (as they are in these photos) to a deep lavender.  The center of the flower (the female pistils) is thimble-shaped and contains a great many anthers as well.  From this structure, many wind-borne seeds are produced by late spring - hence the common name of "windflower".

Glade windflower is not currently propagated by any nursery affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, and is only rarely offered by sources outside of Florida. This puzzles me as the species is not listed, produces large amounts of seed and appears to be easy to provide for.  Hopefully, someone here in Florida will pick it up and begin to offer it to the public.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Southern lobelia - Lobelia georgiana



Foliage in situ
Southern lobelia (Lobelia georgiana) seems to be a rather poorly described species based on the lack of unified descriptions of this species online.  While some sources list its natural range as occurring throughout much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain - Mississippi to Virginia, others list it as native only to 3 of these counties - Alabama, Georgia and Florida. in Florida, it has been vouchered from 10 central Panhandle counties with a disjunct population reported from Marion County. It seemingly has often been misidentified with other closely related species. In L. georgiana the lower lip of corolla is usually glabrous on upper surface near throat of corolla tube, but occasionally papillate or minutely pubescent (with very short hairs); calyx tube usually glabrous, rarely with a few scattered chaffy hairs, but often with a warty texture; corolla tube glabrous.  Regardless, throughout its range, it occurs most often in forested wetland habitats such as along riverine floodplains. 
This is a perennial wildflower that dies back to the ground in winter. Its basal leaves are similar to other members of this species. The simple flower stalks eventually reach 3-4 feet in height by late summer. The leaves are alternate on the stem and have entire margins or are shallowly toothed.  The deep blue to purple blooms are produced in fall. They are of greatest interest to bees for pollination.
I am not aware of this lobelia ever being offered for sale commercially. It would require conditions very similar to other wetland members of this genus.
The flower photo was taken by Lily Byrd and used with permission. The aspect photo at the bottom is credited to Mathew Mrizek and was posted to iNaturalist.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Striped gentian - Saponaria villosa


Striped gentian (Gentiana villosa) is Florida's most unique member of this beloved genus - having white to very pale blue striped flowers instead of the usual deep blue ones.  It is found in seven Panhandle counties in extreme north Florida, but is found in much of the Southeast Coastal Plain from Louisiana to Virginia and Maryland.  Throughout its range, it is most often encountered in open woodlands.

Although its Latin species name means "hairy", the foliage is decidedly glabrous.  The leaves are lanceolate but are typically wider above the middle of the leaf. The leaves are dark green and shiny. like other members of this genus, it is a perennial that dies back to the ground each winter and emerges again in early spring.  Mature plants can reach 2 feet in height.  The flowers buds are clustered at the top of the plant. Striped gentian typically blooms during the fall in late August to October. The flowers are pollinated mostly by bees that are attracted to their stripes and nectar. The seed capsules ripen during October to November. The seeds of G. villosa differ from other gentians because they are wingless.

Gentians have long been used medicinally by herbalists.  As one of its common names suggest  (Sampson's snakeroot), striped gentian is thought to aid in the relief of snakebites. In Appalachia, its roots are carried as a charm. The Catawba Indians used the boiled roots as medicine to relieve back pain. 

Despite the charm and utility of gentians, few are ever offered commercially and none are available from nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  This is regrettable and so this species and its relatives must solely be admired when encountered in the fall when hiking in  their preferred habitat.  Do not be tempted to collect it.

These photos were taken by Helen Roth and used by permission. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Grassleaf blazing star - Liatris elegantula

Grassleaf (Shaggy) blazing star (Liatris elegantula) is an upland member of this decidedly abundant Florida genus, common to sandhill and xeric oak uplands in most of the north Florida counties and south along the Gulf Coast to Citrus County.  It also has been vouchered from nearly all of Georgia and Alabama and is reported from a few counties in extreme eastern Mississippi.  This, like nearly every member of this genus, is a perennial herbaceous species that dies back to the ground in late fall and reemerges again in spring. It is reported to prefer moist, but well-drained soils.

The leaves are simple and nearly linear, alternate along the stem and are without the "hairs" found in many other species such as L. savannensis and L. gracilis.  The simple flowering stalk reaches its mature height of about 3 feet by August and the blooms open from the top of the stalk downwards for the next 2-3 weeks.  The flower buds are sessile (without a stalk) and are slightly hairy.  Like most members of this genus, the flowers are lavender and attract the attention of a great diversity of pollinators.  

Florida is home to 19 species of blazing stars, but only a few are grown commercially by native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Grassleaf blazing star is one of the many that I have not seen offered.  Blazing stars are easy to propagate from mature seed collected in late fall and sown immediately just below the soil surface in flats.  As all blazing stars are beautiful additions to a pollinator garden, more species, like this one, should be made available in the future.

These photos were taken by my friend, Lily Byrd, and shared by permission.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Calico aster - Symphyotrichum laterifolium

Calico aster (Symphyotrichum laterifolium) is a common aster native to much of north Florida and the Panhandle in partly sunny locations within deciduous woodlands and roadsides.  It also has been vouchered in every state east of the Mississippi River as well as a line from east Texas to the Dakotas and all of the Canadian provinces from the Atlantic to Manitoba.  Throughout this extensive range, it occurs in sandy to moist habitats, often in partial sun.  

Like most true asters in this genus, calico aster is a perennial wildflower that dies back in the winter and reemerges in the spring.  It produces a basal cluster of ovate leaves with dentate margins.  Multiple stems emerge and reach a mature height of 3-4 feet in the early fall.  The stem leaves are elliptical and numerous. The mostly hairless leaves have a characteristic hairy midrib on their back faces, and branching is usually horizontal or in what can appear to be a zigzag pattern. 

Flowering occurs in late summer to mid-fall.  The flowers of calico aster are small compared to most Symphyotrichum species. They have an average of 7–15 short white ray florets which are rarely tinted pink or purple. The disc flower centers begin as cream to yellow and often become pink, purple, or brown as they mature. There are roughly 8–16 disk florets, each with five lobes that strongly reflex (bend backwards) when open. Like other members of this genus, these blooms attract a wide variety of pollinators.

Calico aster is one of the asters that forms extensive colonies over time which may be one reason why it is so rarely propagated by native plant nurseries in Florida. It makes an excellent ground cover for open areas of a landscape, but does not play well in a smaller pollinator garden where diversity is desired. It is one of the asters that I have added lately to what I am growing at Hawthorn Hill.