Sunday, February 20, 2011

Swamp Marsh-pink - Sabatia calycina

One of the most common marsh-pinks in Florida is swamp marsh-pink (Sabatia calycina).  This species occurs nearly statewide and throughout the states of the Southeast.  It prefers moist soil habitats and can be found in nearly every type of open and forested wetland; tolerating more shade than most members of this genus.  Swamp marsh-pink differs from many other members of this genus by also being a perennial (though rather short-lived) and by being a bit more luxuriant.  The oval, pointed leaves occur from the base of the many stems to the top of the flower stalks.
Swamp marsh-pink may over-winter in warmer climates, but often dies back when temperatures drop to well below freezing.  The photo above was taken in February; demonstrating that it can bloom nearly year-round. The flowers have five or six petals and are soft pink in color with a rather unique multiple pointed yellow pattern at their base. 
This is a delicate wildflower that has more potential for home landscape settings than most other members of this genus.  Individual plants rarely stand taller than about 12 inches, but produce multiple stems.  Flowering occurs atop each stem and the tops of the many side stems near the top.  The long flowering period and the attractive foliage contribute to its overall aesthetic qualities and its ability to thrive in full sun to partial shade make it rather adaptable.  It does require moist soil, however, to thrive.
We have kept this wildflower for a number of years at Hawthorn Hill, but have never attempted to propagate it as part of our nursery business. Regretably, no one else seems to being propagating it either.  This would be a good species to add to a wetland edge if you could find it for sale.  Plant it in mass and mix it with other smaller species, such as sky flower (Hydrolea corymbosa) and lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana). In our landscape, it has spread by self-sown seed.


  1. Do you happen to know if the Sabatia tolerates brackish water?

  2. While I have never grown it in brackish water, the family has some salt tolerance and occurs in these systems. I suspect it should be fine in the edge of a salt marsh.


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