Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Flaxleaf false foxglove dies back to the ground in winter. The solitary, normally unbranched stem eventually stands 2-4 feet tall by fall. The linear opposite leaves are appressed along the stem, somewhat thickened, and 1-2 inches long. Flowering occurs in the fall. The showy pink to deep rose-colored blooms are similar to those of other species in the genus - lightly spotted in the back of the throat, the edges of the petals hairy, and tubular. The flowers are of interest to pollinating insects, especially bumblebees. Up to 20 flowers may be produced over the blooming season, but most plants produce less than half this number. False foxgloves are often root parasites, but flaxleaf false foxglove does not seem to be. This genus is also a larval host for the common buckeye butterfly.
None of the false foxgloves are currently being propagated by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. The semi-parasitic nature of some, and their growth habit as annuals makes most difficult to maintain in a wildflower garden. Flaxleaf false foxglove, however, does not share those characteristics and would seem to be a good candidate for future propagation - especially for butterfly gardeners interested in providing for buckeyes. Until such time, however, look for this species in the fall and admire it for its simple beauty.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Alicia is an annual member of the legume family. Emerging in spring, it becomes a lanky stem by summer that may reach 3 feet in height. All parts of the plant are covered by sticky hairs. The leaves are confined mostly to the lower portions of the plant. They are alternate along the stem and comprised of 3-7 leaflets. Flowering can occur over a protracted period from late spring through fall. A succession of buds are formed at the top of the stems. Each flower is canary yellow and composed of three petals - the top petal being the largest. Each bloom is open only in the morning hours, unless the day is extremely cloudy. Pollinated flowers form pea-like fruit.
Alicia is an interesting species, but lacks most of the characteristics that would make it a good candidate for the home landscape. It has never been offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN (the Florida Association of Native Nurseries) to the best of my knowledge and is unlikely to in the near future. This endemic is simply a wildflower to be recognized and admired when encountered in the field.
Florida is home to 15 species of coreopsis (tickseeds) and they can sometimes be a bit tricky to differentiate. Chipola coreopsis is a perennial that dies back to the ground each winter. In spring, it forms basal rosettes that can spread in all directions by underground rhizomes. The stems eventually reach a mature height of about 2 feet by late summer. As the plants spread, multiple flower stalks are common. They have few branches, but each is topped by a single flower comprised of bright yellow ray petals and a dark central disk. The flowers are about 18 inches across and each ray petal has three teeth at their outer margin. Flowering only occurs in late summer to fall.
The foliage is distinctive. The 1-3 inch long somewhat succulent leaves are opposite each other on the stem, the leaves occur along the entire length of the stem, and they are oval in shape and without teeth along the margins. As the Latin name implies, the leaf margins are simple.
Chipola coreopsis is quite rare, but is infrequently offered by native plant nurseries. I have not found it to be an easy species to maintain in the home landscape. It is fussy about its growing conditions. Do not attempt it unless you can give it dependably moist soils and filtered sun. Under such conditions, it is an attractive fall wildflower that can form stunning masses of color.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
One more chance this fall to purchase wildflowers from Hawthorn Hill Native Wildflowers, in Seminole, FL. We need to make room before winter for all our new seedlings so we are having a FALL OPEN HOUSE, Sunday October 26, 9 am - 1 pm. All plants will be reduced. Please make plans to stop by, see our landscape and pick up some uncommon native wildflowers. This is the best time to plant! Email me for directions, or any questions you might have: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Sleepy hibiscus is a lanky perennial that can reach 6 feet at maturity. As a tropical species, it is evergreen and can bloom much of the year. The photos above were taken in mid-July at my Pinellas County residence. Other writers report that it becomes shrubby, as wide as it can be tall, but the plants I've observed have been rather thin with multiple side branches. The leaves are shallowly lobed, more like a maple than a linden (basswood - Tilia spp.), and somewhat rough to the touch. The stems also have stiff hairs.
Sleepy hibiscus is so named because of its nodding, half-open blooms. They are bright pink in color with a deeper rose-colored throat. Each is 6-8 inches long and quite showy. Their "sleepy" aspect makes it somewhat difficult for butterflies to pollinate them, but they are visited by bees - and hummingbirds in parts of their range.
Sleepy hibiscus is most common to the upper edges of south Florida pinelands and wetlands where they are shallowly inundated during the wetter months. Though not as needy of standing water as many of our native hibiscus, it prefers moisture - especially during the hotter months. It is reported to fare reasonably well in typical upland landscape conditions, but I have found it to need supplemental water if the soils become dry.
Regrettably, this species is only rarely offered for sale in Florida. Currently, no nursery affiliated with FANN- the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, is propagating it and I have not seen it offered for at least a decade. The plants above, were grown from seed collected several years ago in a wet flatwoods in St Lucie County. We hope to be able to propagate it from the seed of our plants this fall to make it available in Spring 2015. Inquire if interested.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Sea lavender is a perennial forb. In Florida, it tends to keep its basal leaves through winter. These are variable in shape, but most frequently are lanceolate and rather succulent in appearance. The multi-branched, nearly leafless flower stalks arise from these leaves and stand about 2 feet tall. Flowering is most common in spring and in fall, but can occur in most months in central and southern Florida. Numerous 5-petal blooms are produced for many weeks, a few at a time. As the common name implies, they are a rich lavender in color. Though each bloom is small (about 1/8 inch across) and opens for only part of the day, plants during the peak blooming season are quite attractive.
Because of its habitat preferences, sea lavender is only sporadically grown by commercial sources and it does not lend itself to the typical landscape setting. It would make an interesting and attractive addition to a salt marsh restoration or for landscapes on the beach that receive direct saltwater inundation.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
This is a perennial herbaceous wildflower that often dies back to the ground each winter and reemerges in the early spring. Mature plants reach a height of 2-3 feet by summer. The leaves are linear and opposite each other on the very hairy stems. Like other members of the genus, pale meadowbeauty forms extensive colonies by underground stems.
Flowering occurs in early summer to fall. The four broad petals recurve slightly backwards and the overall flowers are about 1 inch across. The stamens end in conspicuous yellow curved anthers and, following pollination, the urn-shaped seed capsules are distinctive.
Meadowbeauties, as a genus, are only rarely propagated and sold commercially. All make wonderful additions to a moist-soil setting, if provided sun to mostly sunny conditions.
Zigzag spiderwort is a perennial herbaceous species that dies back to the ground each winter and reemerges in spring. Mature plants are a bit lanky and stand 12-18 inches tall by early summer. Although it looks a lot like common spiderwort, one distinct difference is in the foliage. Zigzag spiderwort's leaves are much broader at the point of attachment to the stem than they are elsewhere. In common spiderwort, the leaves are pretty much uniformly the same width throughout.
The flowers of zigzag spiderwort are similarly shaped to common spiderwort, but tend to be much smaller in size. In all of the plants I have seen, they are light blue in color and there does not seem to be the variability in shades of blue present in common spiderwort.
Although zigzag spiderwort is tough and adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions (provided it is not planted in full sun), it is not currently propagated by anyone associated with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) and it seems unlikely to be anytime soon. This would be an interesting addition to a shade garden as so few wildflowers bloom in summer in shady settings.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Chapman's crownbeard is a perennial forb with rough-as-sandpaper oblong leaves that vary in length from 1-4 inches. The leaves alternate on the wingless 2-3 foot tall stems. Rounded flower heads form atop these stems in late spring and early summer. Each head is about 3/4 inches across. The bright yellow flowers are quite distinctive; no ray flowers are produced and they appear similar to those produced by Palafoxia spp.- except for the canary yellow color. Like other members of the aster family, the blooms attract pollinators.
Chapman's crownbeard occurs in open wet prairies, pine flatwoods, and bogs and forms an interesting part of the extremely diverse wet-prairie habitats found throughout the Apalachicola National Forest and parts adjacent to it. Though several members of this genus have become common cultivated wildflowers in Florida, Chapman's crownbeard has never been offered for home gardens to my knowledge. I suspect it is somewhat adaptable, but have never grown it myself to verify that. Watch for it along roadsides in moist open areas of the Forest and admire it for its simple beauty.
White birds-in-a-nest is a member of the mint family. Few native mints are truly pure white, and this species stands out among the understory because of the way it glistens in the sun. Its common name is easily understood by looking at the third photo above. Flowers open atop the 18-inch stem in June and July. As they open, the winged blooms encircle the unopened white egg-shaped flower buds.
This is a perennial. I do not know if it persists overwinter as basal leaves or if it dies back to the ground; none of the published resources I have consulted describe this feature. Regardless, it is not a very interesting foliage plant. White-birds-in-a-nest reaches a mature height of 12-18 inches and rather succulent elliptical leaves line the stems, opposite each other, and with rough teeth at the outer margin. The plants can be solitary or in small clusters.
White-birds-in-a-nest is threatened by modern forestry practices and by changing hydrology. It is not a good candidate for home horticulture because of its habitat specificity, but it is relatively well protected at this time in the State Forest where its well being is closely monitored.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Thistles are biennials; they do not flower in their first year, but develop a deep taproot and a basal rosette of leaves. Flowering occurs in the second year, they go to seed, and then the plants die. The large number of seeds produced by their parents, however, ensures that more plants will emerge next spring.
Nuttall's thistle is a robust, lanky species that reaches a mature height of 5 feet or more. The basal leaves are more narrow than in purple thistle, but they are equally armed with numerous sharp spines. In fact, the entire plant is exceedingly spiny.
A great many flower heads are produced atop the stems in summer. These too are much narrower than in purple thistle. The flowers vary in color from nearly white to a more common light pink. Plants remain in flower for many weeks, and as with other thistles, they are exceedingly attractive to pollinating insects.
Though thistles are wonderful plants for pollinators, they are extremely difficult to control in a landscape garden. Their thorniness makes working with them a challenge and the fact that they need to reseed to persist means that they need to be left alone until the seeds are dispersed. By then, you may have hundreds of seedlings germinating in every corner of your landscape (and in those of your neighbors). In many Midwestern states that I have lived in, growing thistles in a landscape is prohibited because they can be invasive.
If you have a more naturalistic setting and wish to add this species, despite its drawbacks, it is easy to propagate from seed collected when mature ("fuzzy"). This species is not currently available from commercial sources. Use it in out-of-the-way locations, away from pathways and trails and be prepared to weed out seedlings that appear in locations where they are not desired. Weed them when very small, when they are less well armed by thorns. Nuttall's thistle does well in partly sunny areas, but also can be grown in full sun.
Baldwin's eryngo is easily overlooked when not in bloom as it blends in with the other plants of the understory, but it stands out once the bright blue flowers are present. Flowering can occur in most months, but is most common in early summer. The plants above were photographed in mid-June at the outer edge of an oak hammock, in disturbed soil, next to an infrequently used unimproved roadway. The flower heads are composed of many dozens of extremely tiny flowers. Each head is no more than 1/8 inch across. The flowers are pollinated by equally small bees and butterflies; one pollinating bee is apparent in the middle photo.
Several eryngos serve as larval plants to the eastern black swallowtail, but this species has not been documented as one of them. Baldwin's eryngo could make an interesting ground cover in moist partly sunny locations, along trails and walkways, but it has never been cultivated commercially to the best of my knowledge. It exhibits some drought tolerance, once established, but will flower best if given some sun. Plants grown in full sun, require more moisture.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Blackroot (Pterocaulon pycnostachyum) is found statewide in Florida in a variety of sunny upland habitats. It also is found in much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain - from Mississippi to North Carolina. In much of this region, it is quite common, but its lack of showy blooms can make it "invisible" to those who are not observant. The dark, thickened roots, which give it its name, are only noticeable if you dig the plant up - but, don't......
Blackroot is a member of the aster family and the sole species in Florida in this genus. The only other member of this genus in North America, wand blackroot (P. virgatum), is quite rare and only found in Louisiana and Texas. As their ranges do not overlap, identification is not confusing.. These are deciduous perennial species that die back to the ground in winter. It emerges in early spring, producing a rosette of basal leaves and then a wand-like flowering stem that reaches a mature height of 1-2 feet by early summer. The foliage is distinctive. The stems and undersides of the linear leaves are densely covered by silvery "hairs", and the stems are conspicuously winged. The upper surface of the leaves is deep green in color and somewhat shiny.
Flowering can occur from late spring through late summer, atop each stem. The spiky inflorescence is up to 4 inches long and composed of numerous knobby dull white flowers. These open from the base of the inflorescence to the tip over a several-week period. As an aster, these flowers attract a variety of pollinators; mostly small bees and butterflies such as hairstreaks and skippers. Once flowering has finished, the spike becomes fuzzy as the ripened seeds get ready to disperse.
Blackroot is a common and interesting member of Florida's upland plant communities, but its lack of truly showy blooms has seemingly kept it from being propagated by commercial sources. We have not yet added it to our offerings at Hawthorn Hill, but get inquiries from time to time. If you wish us to grow this wildflower, let us know.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Bloodroot is impossible to misidentify. In late winter, its single palmate leaf emerges with its deeply dissected lobes and noticeable veins. This leaf is often held nearly vertical to the ground and on a relatively long petiole; up to 6 inches. Over time, plants sucker and produce clusters.
Flowering occurs in late February through March in its Florida range. The solitary bloom may stand 6-12 inches above the ground. The six, crystalline white petals surround the bright yellow reproductive parts; the flowers are about 6 inches across and quite beautiful. The flowers are primarily pollinated by bees and pollinated flowers form an elliptical seed capsule that ripens by April.
Bloodroot is so named because the stems and roots "bleed" a bright red juice when cut. This was used by Native Americans to dye clothes, skin, and pottery. The plant was also used in herbal medicine and as an insect repellent. The alkaloid compound, sanguinarine, is still commercially used in some toothpastes and mouthwashes to control plaque, however, this compound is also toxic and bloodroot should never be ingested.
Bloodroot is one of the sure signs of spring and makes a wonderful addition to a mixed wildflower meadow beneath a deciduous forest canopy. It will not prosper in evergreen shade or in infertile sandy soils, not enriched by a good surface cover of decomposing leaf litter. Because of its great beauty, it is propagated by several native plant growers in north Florida. Do not attempt this plant in Florida using plants from further north. We have grown it in our central Florida landscape by putting it in large pots with fertile potting soil. It has not survived being grown in our native sandy soil. If you attempt it, try it with meadow rue, blue woodland phlox, trilliums, and rain lilies.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Semaphore cactus occurs in open areas within tropical hammocks of the Florida Keys. It is erect and can reach mature heights of six feet. The plants assume an irregular form as the pads (cladophylls) align themselves mostly on one plane. Each is oblong in shape and nearly one foot long when mature. Like other members of this genus, they are covered by stout spines.
Flowering occurs throughout the year. They are a bright orange in color with contrasting yellow stamens. Each bloom is about 1/2 inch long. The pollination of this plant is unknown and fruit have not been seen. Currently, reproduction is known only by asexual means - the pads break off, root, and form new plants.
Semaphore cactus is both beautiful and interesting, but its future is imperiled. Hopefully, conservation efforts currently underway will be successful and this species will continue on into the future.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I do not have any cultural experience with this wildflower and what I know comes largely from the writings of South Florida's renowned ecologist, Roger Hammer, and from the observations I was able to make while touring the Gardens. Havana skullcap is a distinctive member of this popular and widely dispersed genus, and it would be difficult to confuse it with other Florida skullcaps. As a tropical, this perennial remains green and blooms throughout the year. The exceedingly slender stems are covered with tiny hairs that are visible on close inspection. Each stem stands no more than 12 inches tall and the ovate leaves have entire margins (no teeth) and are about 1/2 inch long. The plants sucker, as do other members of this genus, and eventually established plants form mats.
Blooming can occur in every month if winter temperatures remain above freezing. They have the typical skullcap shape, but are a deeper blue than many and make quite an attractive statement in the landscape. Skullcaps are most typically pollinated by bees, but I did not observe pollinators around these plants at the time of my visit.
Havana skullcap seems to possess all the attributes that should make it an excellent candidate for a sunny wildflower garden in areas of Florida that do not regularly freeze, ,and it has recently been added to the list of native plants offered for sale by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries. Use it in sunny to mostly sunny areas in well-drained soil near the front of the bed and the edge of trails and walkways.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
These members of the lily family are true spring ephemerals. Though perennial in their growth habit, they emerge with their two speckled leaves in very early spring, send their single flower bud up just a few days later, bloom, and then essentially disappear for another year. If pollinated, the small capsule will remain above ground until the seeds are dispersed, but that is all that remains. The leaves shrivel and die back to the ground.
When present, the 6 inch narrow fleshy leaves are distinctive. Like our native trilliums, they are dark green and covered by maroon-colored splotches. I suspect these plants produce side bulbs like other lilies over time and slowly spread outward, but they are slow to reproduce. It takes several years for young plants to flower and set seed.
The plants above were photographed on Saturday, February 22. The peak of blooming often occurs in mid-February to early March, depending on the winter temperatures that precede it. The single lemon yellow flower stands less than 6 inches above the ground and only opens on days with sufficient sunlight. The buds remain closed on extremely cloudy days and close up in the evening. Individual flowers may open on several consecutive days. They are pollinated by bees.
The spectacle at Wolf Creek Preseve is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the Deep South and everyone that loves wildflowers should add it to their list of places to visit. I made the 550-mile round trip from my home in Pinellas and it was one of the most worthwhile days I've ever spent. Trout lilies are not a landscape plant unless you can meet their exacting requirements. NEVER dig plants from the wild. A few native nurseries offer plants that are nursery propagated. I tried this once and they failed miserably in my central Florida landscape. From now on, I will be content to visit them in the wild.