Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stalked Wild Petunia - Ruellia pedunculata subsp. pinetorum

Stalked wild petunia (Ruellia pedunculata subsp. pinetorum) is a rare species in Florida, found only in Gadsden, Liberty, and Washington Counties in and around Apalachicola National Forest (ANF). It also has been reported in much of the Southeast Coastal Plain - from South Carolina to Texas. Throughout this region it is found in open moist pine savannas and along roadside ditches.  The plants photographed above were seen in the upper edges of a large pitcher plant bog in ANF, 13 August 2015.
Like its other close Florida cousins, stalked wild petunia is a perennial that dies back to the ground in winter.  It emerges in spring and assumes its mature height of 6-12 inches by summer.  It is not especially noticeable as a foliage plant.  The leaves are opposite each other along the stem, elliptical in shape, with a slightly wavy edge.
As its common (and Latin) name implies, the flowers occur on stalks at the leaf axils.  They are similar in color to the common R. caroliniensis, but are smaller and have an elongated floral tube.  Each flower is subtended by noticeable leafy bracts.  The flowers are mostly open in the morning hours, closing by afternoon. I did not notice pollinators using them, but suspect they are used by a great many - as in R. caroliniensis.
Very little has been written about this subspecies to date and it has been ignored in all of the Florida wildflower books I currently own.  It has not been propagated to date. Look carefully for it if you are in the region of ANF in the summer. It is an interesting member of a very interesting genus.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.