Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pale Meadowbeauty - Rhexia mariana

Pale meadowbeauty (Rhexia mariana) occurs nearly statewide in Florida in open savannas and marsh edges.  It also is common throughout much of the eastern half of the U.S.  Within this region, flower color can be variable, from the nearly white form pictured above to pink (a color common to many other meadowbeauties). The flower-color variability could make identification confusing, but this species has very conspicuous "hairs" along the stems. It is very similar to R. nashii, but the hypanthium (the tube portion of the urn-shaped seed capsule) is much longer in the latter.
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.

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