Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ipomoea purpurea - Tall Morning Glory

Florida is home to a great many native species of morning glories. The vast majority occur within the genus, Ipomoea and a few somewhat aggressive non-natives. As morning glories are much beloved landscape plants, some of the introduced species have wide distributions. Tall morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) is one of those. I have not seen this species in "the wild", but it has been added to home landscapes in much of Florida. The photos above were taken of plants that I found growing on the north fence in the backyard of my new home in Pasco County. It has been vouchered growing in natural areas from only six counties distributed in north and central Florida, but I suspect it is more widely distributed than this. A check of the USDA database shows that it is reported as introduced in all but two of the Lower 48 states in North America and in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. I rarely have included non-native plants within this blog, but I have made an exception here for this species just to make clear that it is not a native Florida (or North American) species.

Tall morning glory is an apt common name for this species as it is an especially vigorous grower.  The plants in my new backyard have spread into the upper canopy of all my neighbor's trees and across the vacant lot behind me on the ground.  The first time that I mowed my new yard, I beheaded countless stems that had been rambling across it.  Since that time, I have confined mostly to one fence and it provides about the only nectar/pollen in my landscape right now. It's value to that effect is shown in the top photo of a Southeastern blueberry bee.

Tall morning glory has beautiful sky blue flowers that are produced year round unless there is a hard freeze. It is extremely easy to grow and not especially fussy about growing conditions. It's heart-shaped leaves also are attractive , though the target of various small insect pests.

If you contemplate adding a morning glory to your fence, there are perhaps better, native, species that would be better choices.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Hairypod Cowpea - Vigna luteola

There are a great many beans/legumes native to Florida and quite a few that are not native. It is a widespread family and members can be found in nearly every habitat type found here. Some are difficult for me to tell apart on first glance as they are various shades of pink and light lavender and have the typical 3-parted compound leaf. A few are white, but very few are bright canary yellow. That is the attribute that aids me with this one when I encounter it in the field.
Hairypod cowpea, (Vigna luteola), is essentially found statewide, though it has not been vouchered in the Ocala/Lake Wales Ridge counties and a few in the Panhandle. This may well be an oversight as small, somewhat less-grandiose, species do not seem to be collected as avidly as the showier ones. Besides Florida, it is known throughout the Southeast Coastal Plain from Texas to Virginia and seems to also occur in Pennsylvania. Throughout this extended range, it is most common in mesic open sites.
Hairypod cowpea is a weak-stemmed vining perennial. Its many stems twine through the adjacent vegetation - it does not have tendrils. As it twines, it can partially smother the plants it climbs upon. Normally, its blooms rise an inch or two above the foliage. Both the leaflets and the bean-shaped seed pods are "hairy".
The flowers are bright canary yellow and quite attractive. Like most legumes, the lower petal is fused into a keeled lip and the petals above it are fused into "ears".  Flowering can occur during most months, except winter in the northern half of the state.
Most twining legumes are difficult in a mixed wildflower planting because of their bad behavior and, thus, they are rarely propagated for the home landscape by native nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of  Native Nurseries. They tend to have value to the hardcore butterfly gardener, however, and should be made more available because of that. Hairy cowpea is a known larval host plant for the gray hairstreak, dorantes skipper, and long-tailed skipper. Although each of these butterflies also oviposits on other, less rambling species, adding hairy cowpea is useful to a butterfly garden where these three butterflies are to be considered. Finding plants from nurseries may be very difficult so look for the ripening beans during most months, harvest a few before they are completely dry and keep then in a closed paper bag until they split open. Such ripe pods burst open vigorously and you may actually hear them inside the paper bag. Sow the seed just below the soil surface and germination should occur within 2-3 weeks.

I have a few extra seed that I will share

I am mostly done planting seed for the 2019 season at Hawthorn Hill and I have a few seed left over of a very few species that I would share with you on a first come / first served basis. Let me know which species you are interest5ed in AND send me a SASE of sufficient size and with sufficient postage. The only catch is that the seed ONLY be used for your personal gardening efforts - NO COMMERCIAL use is warranted. I do not sell seed and I don;t expect you to make a profit off of it either....... Thanks

1. Chrysoma paucifoculosa - Woody goldenrod
2. Dalea pinnata - Summer farewell
3. Carphephorus corymbosus - Florida paintbrush
4 Liatris gracilis - Graceful blazing star
5.Liatris savannensis - Savanna blazing star

I have recently moved to Holiday, FL - which is just over the Pinellas border in Pasco County. I hope to have my annual Spring Sale in April or early May. I will post this when I set a date.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all of you.

Email me first about availability -
Then send your SASE to my new home address:
1648 Paragon PL
Holiday, FL  34690

 Woody goldenrod
 Graceful blazing star
 Summer farewell
Florida paintbrush

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fall Open House - Saturday September 29


I will be holding what may well be my final Open House at Hawthorn Hill this coming Saturday, September 29. My wife and I are parting ways and she is putting our home on the market shortly. Until I find a new residence and have the ability to propagate plants, I will be forced to (temporarily) shut down this aspect of my life. EVERYTHING must go except for my stock plants - so there will be deals to be had.  I would love to have my plants find a new home where they can flourish.

I hope to be back by spring, but there is a lot of uncertainty right now..........

My address is: 9900 133rd St, Seminole, FL  33776
My email (if you have questions or wish to get an updates list is:
My phone (should you wish to speak to me directly is: (727) 422-6583

Hours: 9 am - 1 pm.

I plan to take everything that goes unsold to a local native plant nursery.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Coastalplain Hawkweed - Hieracium megacephalon

Coastalplain hawkweed (Hieracium megacephalon) is one of many such Asteraceae members that get mistaken for dandelions.  It is not one, of course, and is the sole member of this genus found in Florida.  It is found nearly statewide here, but is not an endemic as it also has been vouchered in Georgia.
Some might also call this a "weed", and it fits that description a bit since it is common in a wide variety of upland habitats and tends to reseed well into disturbed areas. "Weeds" are not necessarily unattractive or undesirable, however. Coastalplain hawkweed produces showy flower heads that can be up to 1 inch in width. The lemon yellow petals open in the morning and close by mid-afternoon. They attract a variety of pollinating invertebrates.  Flowers can be produced year round in frost-free portions of the state, but elsewhere are visible from spring to late fall.  The stalks are about  18 inches tall when grown in sunny locations.
Coastalplain hawkweed is a perennial forb. The leaves are elliptical in shape and normally 2-3 inches long. The leaves and stems are covered by coarse "hairs". 
This is not a species I've ever seen offered by commercial nurseries, but it would be easy to propagate from seed. As mature seed is available most months, collect a few from sites where this would be legal, and sow them slightly below the soil surface. Just realize that it is likely to spread once established.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pineland Pinklet - Stenandrium dulce

Pineland pinklet (Stenandrium dulce) is a low-growing perennial wildflower reported from most of the southern half of peninsular Florida. It also has been reported from Georgia and Texas as well as much of Central and South America to Chile.  Throughout its range, it prefers moist open habitats such as seasonally wet savannas and pinelands.
Pineland pinklet is diminutive in stature. Normally its ovate to somewhat linear leaves hug the ground as a basal rosette. They are deep green in color and somewhat fleshy. Flowering in south Florida can occur in most months, but is limited to summer and fall further north.  The flower stalk typically stands 3-4 inches in height and the deep pink blooms measure about 1/2 inch wide. The center is white and some white streaking may occur on the 5 petals.  As its Latin name implies, they are sweetly fragrant. 
Currently, few south Florida native wildflowers are being propagated by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. To me, the reason is unclear as most of the endemic and locally native woody species have found their way to market. Pineland pinklet would seem to be a wonderful wildflower for cultivation. Its low stature and beautiful blossoms would make it an ideal candidate for the outer border of a wildflower planting. It also is a reliable reseeder and spreads in sunny moist locations where it is most comfortable.  Regrettably, I rarely see it offered and none of the nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, currently list it for sale. Hopefully, this will change soon as more demand for south Florida wildflowers (and wildflowers in general) increases.

Pineland Alamanda - Angadenia berteroi

Pineland alamanda (Angadenia berteroi) is a distant cousin to the commonly propagated wild alamanda (Pentalinon luteum). Both are in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), but the latter is a robust vine while the former is a vine-like herbaceous perennial  Pineland alamanda is a state-threatened species found only in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. It also occurs in much of the Caribbean. Throughout its range, it occurs in open pinelands.
Pineland alamanda can reach a total length of 30 inches tall, but is often much shorter. The leaves are opposite on the stem, linear in shape and curl under along the leaf margins. They also are 1-2 inches long. It is reported that the sap of this plant can cause minor skin and eye irritations.
Flowering can occur throughout the year. This plant was photographed in late May in Everglades National Park in open pine rocklands. The flowers are similar to wild alamanda, but are much smaller in size. Each bloom is about 1 inch long and about 1/2 inch in width. They are a bright canary yellow in color and they attract a variety of pollinators.
Although state listed, this species is often locally common. Although wild alamanda is relatively common in cultivation, pineland alamanda is not. Currently, no one associated with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) is listed as propagating it. This is regrettable as it has much to offer the home landscape in south Florida - where so few other wildflowers are being grown. It can be hoped that this situation will someday be rectified and this species, among so many others, will be made available.

Southern Colicroot - Aletris bracteata

Southern colicroot (Aletris bracteata) is a state-endangered species reported only from Miami-Dade and Collier Counties in extreme south Florida. It also is reported from parts of the Bahamas. Throughout its limited range, it occurs in pine rockland habitat where the soils are intermittently wet and in sunny locations.  The plants photographed above were found in May 2018 in Everglades National Park.
South Florida ecologist, Roger Hammer, reports that it can bloom throughout the year, but I have very limited experience with this specie's ecology.  Like other members of the genus, it is a perennial herb with thin leaves that emerge as a whirl from a central growing point. Each wiry leaf is less than 1/4 inch wide and may be up to 4 inches long. As the Latin name implies, the flowers are subtended by small leafy bracts.  The stalk itself can be up to two feet tall and the white flowers arise on the upper 12-18 inches. They bloom from the bottom up. Each is about 1/4 inch long and "mealy" in appearance.
This is one of five colicroot species native to Florida and the one with the most-limited distribution. None of them are currently offered commercially by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  It is very unlikely that this one will ever be a serious candidate for the home landscape. If you hike any of the pine rocklands within its range, however, look for it and admire it for its distinctiveness.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Coastal Groundcherry - Physalis angustifolia

Florida is home to 9 native groundcherries, also known as tomatillos and relatives to tomatoes (Solanum spp.). Coastal groundcherry (Physalis angustifolia) is found throughout Florida in mostly coastal counties and several other states in the Southeastern Coastal Plain - Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  It is most common at the edge of hammocks and pinelands, though it is not especially picky about habitat.

Coastal groundcherry has distinctive foliage. The leaves are narrow and 2-4 inches in length. On closer examination, it can be seen that they also are covered with sparse "hairs".  The leaf margins are without teeth.  This is a perennial and remains evergreen in south Florida, but dies back to the ground further north.  At maturity, the plants stand 1-2 feet tall.  Flowering can occur throughout the growing season,  The pendant solitary yellow blooms are trumpet shaped and a bit less than 1-inch in length.  Like other members of the genus, the ripened fruit (a small tomatillo) is enclosed in a papery lantern-like structure (the calyx). The fruit are yellow when ripe. They are eaten by a variety of wildlife and are edible for humans as well.

With the increased interest in permaculture and in edible landscapes in general, a few members of this species are being cultivated by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Walter's groundcherry is currently listed by Silent Natives in Miami and by Sweet Bay Nursery in Parrish.  Groundcherries are relatively easy to cultivate and they will spread from their fruit if allowed to ripen and fall to the ground.  Give the plants a mostly sunny location and average moisture.

Thickleaf Wild Petunia - Ruellia succulenta

Nearly everyone in Florida who has a wildflower garden is familiar with wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis). There are other species in this genus, however, and I have featured a few of them previously in this blog. Thickleaf wild petunia (R. succulenta) is yet another.  Thickleaf wild petunia is a Florida endemic and confined to five counties in extreme south Florida. In this region, it is relatively common - occurring in pine rockland and flatwoods. 

As its common name implies, its foliage is thicker and more succulent than others in this genus. The 1-3" leaves are opposite on the 4-8" stems and elliptical in shape. The margins are shallowly lobed as well and covered by short hairs.  All of this makes this species quite distinctive in relation to its more common cousins.  In south Florida, it is an evergreen perennial. The purple flowers are similar to other Ruellias - tubular and about 1- 1 1/2 inches wide.  Flowering in south Florida can occur year round. In its south Florida range, thickleaf wild petunia serves as a larval host plant for the common buckeye and the malachite butterfly. This would not be the case if this plant was used in more-northern parts of the state.

Despite the great popularity of R. caroliniensis, other species in this genus are not propagated by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Plant Nurseries.  The lack of propagation interest is even more surprising given that this species is also a larval host for two beautiful butterflies.  I have not grown this species and do not know its cold tolerance. I suspect it would be easy to propagate from seed, should you have access to plants and a legal ability to collect the seed.  Ruellias have seed capsules that "explode" when fully ripe.  Collect them when they start to turn brown and keep them in a covered container or bag. You can actually hear them explode in this situation.  Take the seed and sow it shallowly. Germination should be apparent in 1-2 weeks.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Man-in-the-Ground - Ipomoea microdactyla

Man-in-the-ground (Ipomoea microdactyla) is one of the most striking of our native morning glories and one of the rarest. It is currently only known from pine rockland habitats in Miami-Dade County and is listed as a state endangered species. It also occurs on Puerto Rico.

Man-in-the-ground is so named (and the Latin name implies it also) because the large tuberous root has small finger-like projections.  Like all members of this genus, it is a sprawling vine that ranges many feet out from the central core. The ovate leaves can be entire or palmately lobed. Each is 3-4 inches in length.  What separates this species most obviously from our other nearly 2 dozen species is the rich carmine-pink color of the blooms. The deeply tubular flowers are about 1 1/2 inches wide and many buds are produced along the stems and can be open at any one time. Flowers are possible during most months from spring to early winter. They are visited by a variety of pollinating insects.

Despite its showiness, this species is not generally cultivated by any of the nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. It is sometimes available from other south Florida hobbiests. If you find a specimen from someone (collected legally, of course), give it lots of room to ramble, full sun, and average soil. I do not know if it requires soils with high pH, but that is the habitat is occurs naturally in.

Flaxleaf False Foxglove - Agalinis linifolia

The genus Agalinis contains 17 native species and can be a very difficult genus to identify individual species. One way to narrow down the possibilities is to use habitat first - does it occur in wet to dry soils, and in what part of the state is it located.  Flaxleaf false foxglove (Agalinis linifolia) is one of several species found in seasonally wet habitats such as wet prairies and open marshes and it is found nearly statewide in such conditions. It also is found across the Southeastern Coastal Plains from Louisiana to Maryland and Delaware.

As the common and scientific names suggest, it is characterized by having very narrow leaves (similar in appearance to flax) that may be 1-2 inches long.  These are appressed against the stem and not especially noticeable at first glance. Multiple stems arise from the base and are sparsely branched.  They can reach 3 feet in height, depending on the density of the adjacent vegetation.
False foxgloves get this name from the general similarity of their flowers to real foxgloves - genus Digitalis. All members of this genus are pink in color and most have darker purple spots inside the throat.  Flaxleaf false foxglove is no exception, but its flowers are large for the genus - up to 1 inch across, and the petals are noticeably "hairy" along the edges. Blooming is most common from summer to late fall. They are pollinated mostly by bumblebees and other large bees.

False foxgloves are semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants. As such, they are not easy candidates for home landscapes and are not currently being propagated by any of the nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. There has always been a demand, however, as this genus is the larval host plant for buckeye butterflies. If you wish to try your hand at this species, look for the dry seed capsules in fall to early winter and scatter them directly into a moist-to-wet mixed/established wildflower meadow. If you are successful, you should notice seedlings the following spring.

Purple Bladderwort - Utricularia purpurea

Bladderworts are semi-carnivorous plants that use their tiny bladder-like "traps" at the ends of their threadlike stems to capture small aquatic animals such as insects and nematodes to supplement their diet. These traps are exceedingly responsive to touch and close quickly to snare their prey.  Purple bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea) is an aquatic species found statewide in shallow freshwater habitats such as pond and marsh edges. It has a wide distribution in North America and is found in most states and provinces east of the Mississippi River north to Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
Purple bladderwort is actually just one of three bladderworts with lavender flowers. Florida purple bladderwort (U. amethystina) is confined to a few counties in Collier and Lee Counties in extreme southwest Florida while lavender bladderwort (U. resupinata) , also found statewide, is distinguished by an upcurving lower lip.  The plants photographed here were observed in shallow water at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.
Purple bladderwort spreads across the open water by forming a network of below-water stems. The light purple flowers can occur throughout the growing season. They stand several inches above the water and are about 1/2 inch in length.  The lower lip is accented with a broad yellow and white splotch and a deeper purple splotch is evident on the upper petal.
Though bladderworts are interesting plants, they don't lend themselves to nursery propagation. None of the 14 native species are currently offered by nurseries affiliated with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) and I am not aware of them ever offering any of these plants. Look for it in shallow water habitats, but you'll have to look closely as its small size sometimes makes difficult to see.

Pineland Jacquemontia - Jacquemontia curtissii

The genus Jacquemontia commemorates French botanist and explorer Victor Jacquemont and includes 5 species native to Florida. All of these, except J. tamnifolia are restricted to extreme south Florida and are listed either as state Threatened or Endangered species. Pineland jacquemontia (J. curtissii) is one of these and is only reported from 5 counties at the tip of the peninsula in calcareous open pinelands and prairies. The plants photographed above were found in pine rockland habitat in Everglades National Park in late May.

Although a few members of this genus are routinely offered for sale by members of the Florida Association of Native Plant Nurseries (FANN), this one is not - regrettably. The 3/4-inch diameter white flowers are exceedingly attractive and are of interest to various pollinators. These blooms can occur year round. Like other members of this genus, it grows as an evergreen twining vine that rambles through the adjacent vegetation. Each stem will extend several feet from the main growing point. The leaves are elliptical in shape, alternate along the stem, and are 1/2-1 inch in length.

Pineland clustervine could be relatively easily grown in a home landscape given a bit of extra moisture and full sun to mostly sunny conditions. It would be an attractive plant if grown on a trellis or allowed to ramble through a mixed wildflower planting.  Until someone propagates it, however, it is best simply admired if encountered along a nature trail. As a state-protected species, it is not legal to collect seed or cuttings.