Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yellow Meadowbeauty - Rhexia lutea

Meadowbeauties (Rhexia spp.) are a genus that includes 10 species in Florida.  Eight of them are various shades of pink, one (R. parviflora) is white and one (R. lutea) is bright canary yellow.  Yellow meadowbeauty occurs throughout much of north Florida in wet savannas and pinelands, and other open wetland habitats.  It does not prosper in habitats that do not stay moist.
This is a deciduous perennial which resurfaces in early spring.  Individuals stay relatively short (about 12-16 inches), but are many stemmed and resemble tiny shrubs.  The leaves are linear and both the stems and leaves are covered by noticeable and distinct bristles. 
Flowering occurs over several weeks in late spring.  Like other members of this genus, numerous flower buds are produced at the tips of each branch and many flowers may be open at one time.  The flowers are composed of 4 diamond-shaped petals and are very showy.  These are followed later by the urn-shaped seed capsules indicative of the genus.
Yellow meadowbeauty is not currently being propagated by any native nursery I am aware of.  Because it is restricted to moist to wet open habitats, it is not a good candidate for most home landscape settings, but it would make a wonderful addition to a wetland/wet savanna garden.  I have never grown this species and have no idea how far south in Florida it might be grown, given some care.  I would like to hear from anyone who has attempted this species - especially anyone who has grown it south of its natural range.

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