Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coastalplain Tickseed - Coreopsis gladiata

At first glance, coastalplain tickseed (Coreopsis gladiata) looks quite similar to the very abundant common tickseed (C. leavenworthii).  The differences are subtle.  One is that the leaves of this species tend to be entire - not compound as in common tickseed.  The other difference is the length of the sepals - the small green petal-looking structures behind the flower buds. 
Coastalplain coreopsis occurs in much of the same types of habitats as its more common cousin; moist open and sunny areas.  It does not have the same tolerance for drier site, though. Its range in Florida extends south to the central peninsula and it occurs in much of the southeast coastalplain as well.  It is a short-lived perennial or annual that relies on its large seed production to persist over time.
Coastalplain coreopsis emerges in the spring as a small basal rosette of linear leaves.  By late spring, its thin multi-branched stem begins growing upwards and it eventually reaches a mature height of 3-5 feet - depending on light and soil moisture. 
Blooming is confined to the fall, generally September and October.  Unlike common tickseed, it does not flower at other times and never in the spring.  The flowers are similar in size and color, though.  The ray petals are bright yellow and the disc is dark.  The yellow ray petals are noticeably notched.
Coastalplain coreopsis requires open, sunny and moist growing conditions to prosper.  Without it, it will not persist over time.  And, because of this, it is not an easy species to use in a typical landscape setting.  Currently, no nurseries associated with AFNN, the Association of Florida Native Nurseries, offer this plant commercially and I am not aware of others who propagate it.  We do not grow coastalplain tickseed at Hawthorn Hill.  This is a species with wonderful attributes, however, and a relatively wide natural range in Florida.  For these reasons, it would make a good addtion to a wildflower planting in a swale, marsh edge, or similar moist-soil area.

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