Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Florida Feathershank - Schoenocaulon dubium

Florida feathershank (Schoenocaulon dubium) is a member of the Melanthium family and an easy wildflower to overlook when not in bloom. It also is endemic to peninsular Florida from Gilchrist and Alachua Counties in the north, south to Highlands, Palm Beach and Martin Counties. These photos were taken with my cell phone (sorry for the quality) in sandhill habitat in Hernando County. Throughout this range, it is found in the well-drained sandy soils of sandhill and scrub.
Florida feathershank is an evergreen perennial. It forms a basal rosette of very narrow elongated leaves that are noticeably channeled. Each is nearly 12 inches long and no more than 1/8 inch wide. Flowering occurs in late spring through mid-summer. The bluish green flower stalk rises up out of the basal leaves and reaches a mature height of 2-2 1/2 feet. The tiny flowers are produced along the upper portion of this stalk. The flowers lack petals. The yellowish stamens protrude from the sepals and give the appearance of the flowers being yellow.  It is this tall, thin flower stalk that makes this species noticeable among all of the other plants it's associated with.
Florida feathershank is an interesting plant with very limited use in a native plant landscape. I have never seen it offered for sale by any of Florida's native plant nurseries and it is unlikely to be offered in the future. Its diminutive size and lack of a striking flower stalk make this a true connoisseur's wildflower. Look for it in Late-May through July and admire it simply for its uniqueness.

 Basal leaves (the linear ones) among other understory plants

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