Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mohr's Barbara's Buttons - Marshallia mohrii - NOT NATIVE TO FLORIDA

I made an exception for this very rare plant because my pictures turned out pretty well and I thought it worthwhile to post them and the narrative below.
Mohr's Barbara's buttons (Marshallia mohrii) is both rare and endangered throughout its limited range - Floyd County Georgia, in the extreme northwest section of the state) and a few counties in adjacent northeast Alabama. In this restricted geographic range, it occurs in rocky outcrops and in shallow upland soils in open sandy pinelands and roadside cuts.  In these areas, it is adapted to relatively high light levels and occasional drought.
Mohr's Barbara's buttons is an erect perennial herb that dies back to the ground each winter. It emerges early and eventually reaches a mature height of 1-2 feet.  Unlike a few other closely related species it branches up the stem and produces multiple flower heads. The leaves are a bright shiny green and narrowly elliptical.  The lower leaves may be more than several inches long, but leaf size decreases markedly up the stem.
Flowering occurs in late April through early June, depending on the severity of the preceding winter.  This is an aster, but the heads do not contain ray flowers - only disk flowers.  These open along the outside of the bud first. Each is a pale pink to white in color. The five petals twist above the fused tube.
Mohr's Barbara buttons is a beautiful and interesting plant, and one that attracts pollinators. Despite its rarity, it is sometimes offered for sale by licensed native plant nurseries. The one photographed above was purchased by one of those and is growing in a large landscape pot with some Bartram's ixias (Calydorea coelestina) in our Pinellas County, Florida landscape at Hawthorn Hill.  We do not intend to propagate it ourselves, as it is not native, but we certainly appreciate its beauty.

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