Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fringed meadowbeauty - Rhexia petiolata

Fringed meadow beauty (Rhexia petiolata) is a common component of wet open habitats throughout much of Florida (except the very lowest tiers of counties). It also occurs in much of the Southeast Coastal Plain from Texas to Maryland. It can be easily confused with the also-common Nuttall's meadow beauty (R. nuttallii), with which it overlaps significantly in geographic range, but fringed meadow beauty has no hairs on the outside of its rounded urn-shaped seed capsules while Nuttall's is conspicuously covered by glandular hairs.
This, like other members of the genus, are perennial herbs that die back in winter. Stems arise from the hardened base in spring and reach a mature height of 6 inches to 2 1/2 feet. The plants photographed above in a pitcher plant bog in Apalachicola National Forest in mid-August were on the taller end of the height spectrum for this species. The leaves are oval, clasp the stem and are less than 1 inch long. Noticeable hairs occur on the margins.
Flowering lasts from June until early fall. The 4-petal pink flowers are borne singly or in small clusters at the end of the stems. The blooms are about 1-inch across and nearly indistinguishable from Nuttall's meadow beauty. The petals tend to have wavy margins and curl upwards. Most other meadow beauties hold their flowers at 90-degree angles to the ground and have more-flattened petals,
Fringed meadow beauty is not currently grown commercially in Florida by any nursery affiliated with FANN- the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  Its somewhat demure aesthetics make it unlikely to be added in the future.

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