Friday, December 17, 2021

Hammock Snakeroot - Ageratina jucunda

Hammock snakeroot (Ageratina jucunda) is a common perennial wildflower native to open xeric to mesic woodlands throughout Florida except for the western Panhandle region.  It often is found in partly shady locations, but tolerates high sunlight. Its stems die back to the ground in late winter and it begins sending its 2-3 foot stems upwards in spring.  These stems are glabrous while the arrow-shaped leaves are opposite on the stem. Each leaf is 1-1 1/2 inches long and noticeably toothed.  

Flowering occurs in the fall and lasts until early winter, They are arranged in small individual heads that are further arranged in an almost-corymblike structure.  The flowers are bright white in color and quite attractive at their peak. Hammock snakeroot also attracts the attention of a great many pollinators at this time.  

Although this plant is quite adaptable and has great value to a pollinator garden, it is only offered sporadically by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  It is easy to propagate from seed, however. Scatter it just below the soil surface. Once established, it often self-sows in the landscape.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Carolina Scalystem - Elytraria caroliniensis

Caroliana scalystem (Elytraria caroliniensis) is a perennial herb found statewide in a variety of moist habitats.  It also is found in Georgia and South Carolina. It is a member of the Acanthaceae and, therefore, related to species in Ruellia, Dyschoriste, and Justicia genus.  Though many of these are cultivated for home landscapes, Carolina scalystem has not to the best of my knowledge.

This is not an especially showy or robust species.  It has a basal rosette of spatulate leaves that measure from 4-6 inches in length and up to about 1/2 inch wide.  From this, a 6-8 inch tall flower stem emerges. It has a great many scale-like leaves as it nears the tip and appears almost cone-like.  White tubular flowers emerge from beneath these bract-like leaves. They are comprised of 5 petals, fused near the base into a tube, and are about 1/3 inch wide.  Flowering can occur during most months between February and November.  They are mostly of interest to small butterflies.

Due to its diminutive nature and because its flowers are not especially showy, it is unlikely that Carolina scalystem will be offered by commercial native nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Other members of this family serve as host plants for various butterflies, but Carolina scalystem is not recorded as one.  Should you wish to add it to a moist-soil landscape, scatter the small ripe seed on the soil surface and give it some time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Jerba De Jicotea - Ludwigia erecta


Jerba de Jicotea (Ludwigia erecta) is an annual member of this diverse genus and often considered to be a weed throughout its very cosmopolitan distribution.  It is found nearly statewide in Florida in sunny wet habitats and has a very limited distribution in Mississippi and east Texas.  It also is native throughout the Caribbean, central America and South America. It has been introduced in Africa and is considered to be a pest there. As its Latin name suggests, this is a tall upright species, reaching an adult height of 9 feet at times.  The tall thin stems are reddish in color and multi-branched.  The elliptical leaves are deeply veined and several inches long.  They are alternate on the stems.

Like the vast majority of species in this genus, Jerba de Jicotea has lemon yellow flowers with four petals.  The flowers are solitary and sessile on the stem with petals that are about 1/4 inch long.  The seed capsules are narrow and 4-angled.  As other members of this genus, the blooms attract a variety of pollinators. Flowering occurs in most months.

Jerba de Jicotea is not a good choice for home landscapes as it is weedy and an annual with rather small flowers. It has not been propagated, to my knowledge, by any nursery affiliated by FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and is not likely to be in the future. Other perennial primrosewillows would make better choices, but it would be easily propagated by seed collected from its ripe capsules.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fringed bladderwort - Utricularia simulans

Bladderworts are a very interesting genus, being semi-carnivorous - supplementing their nutritional needs in poor soil by capturing tiny invertebrates with the tiny bladders located on their leaf margins. Some do this by floating on top of the water and capturing them at the water surface. Others, like the fringed bladderwort (Utricularia simulans), do so at ground level.  It, and a few others, survive in seasonally wet soils in open trails and the edges of freshwater wetlands.  These were recently photographed at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in depressions along a firebreak trail. Fringed bladderwort has only been recorded in the southern half of peninsular Florida, but it also is found south into northern South America.

This genus includes annuals and perennials and I could not find published evidence as to the nature of this species. I suspect, because of its mostly tropical distribution, that it is a perennial.  The foliage of bladderworts is fairly nondescript and difficult to notice. It is the flowers that bring attention to them. A few are purple, but the majority, like fringed bladderwort, are yellow. This species is a bit deeper yellow than others. What distinguishes it, however, are the noticeable "hairs" on both the flowers and the stems.  This is unique to Florida's species.  Flowering can occur throughout most of the year.

Bladderworts are not offered commercially by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. They are sometimes grown in pots where their water needs can be properly met. It seems to me that they are best simply admired where they occur naturally.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Pattalias palustre - Gulf Coast Swallowwort


Gulf Coast swallowwort (Pattalias palustre) has a somewhat confused taxonomy. Because of various legitimacy issues with the generic name, it has been moved to this genus. It was formerly known as Seutera angustifolia and before that as Cynanchum angustifolium.  It is under that last name that I first learned it. Regardless of its taxonomic confusion, it is well entrenched as a member of the milkweed family - Apocynaceae, and serves as an important host plant to milkweed butterflies in coastal habitats.

As its name suggests, Gulf Coast swallowwort occurs in every Florida county along the gulf coast in brackish saltmarsh habitats. It also occurs in virtually every county along the east coast of Florida - always in saltmarsh conditions.  Outside of Florida, it has been recorded from the Texas coast to North Carolina in coastal habitats as well as the West Indies, Mexico and portions of Central America to Belize. 

This is a perennial vine that twines its way throughout the neighboring vegetation. It does not have tendrils. It is easy to miss in this situation as it rarely grows taller than 3 feet and both its foliage and flowers are rather inconspicuous.  The leaves are simple and opposite each other on the stem.  Each is narrow and pointed, and may reach 1.5 - 2 inches in length.

Flowering occurs in summer and the ripened pods are formed by very early fall.  The plants above, were growing in a saltmarsh in Pasco County and photographed in early September.  I apologize for the poor quality of the photos taken with my cell phone... The flowers are produced in small heads and are greenish white in color. The pods are a bit longer than 1 inch and contain a great many tiny seeds - each attached to a fluffy appendage. As a milkweed, these plants also produce a milky sap.

Gulf Coast swallowwort provides an important food source for coastal milkweed butterflies - especially queens.  Nevertheless, it is rarely propagated by native plant nurseries for butterfly gardeners. It would require moist to wet soils in a landscape, but likely not require salt to thrive.  Everywhere I have seen it, it has been growing in full sun.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Spotted Water Hemlock - Cicuta maculata

Spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) is a perennial member of the carrot family (Apiaceae) found statewide (except for the extreme southern counties) in open wetlands - pond and marsh edges.  It also occurs throughout much of the U.S. in similar habitats.  Like most members of this family, it is highly toxic and should never be consumed. Deaths have been reported from this even when consumed in very small amounts. It is, however, a host for the eastern black swallowtail butterfly and makes a valuable addition to a landscape devoted to butterflies as long as it is placed in an area where it won't be mistakenly eaten by humans or livestock.

This perennial forb dies back to the ground during the winter and reemerges in early spring. It reaches its mature height of about 6 feet by early summer. The foliage is composed of pinnately compound leaves that alternate along the stem.  The leaves are robust. Each is about 8 inches long and up to 6 inches wide. The leaf margins are toothed. These are held on purplish stems that appear spotted on close glance - hence its common name.

Flowering occurs from early summer to early fall. They occur in umbels - which is a distinguishing feature of this family. The umbels are 6-8 inches across and contain a great many tiny white flowers. Each flower is only about 1/8 inch across. The blooms attract the attention of a great many pollinators. Pollinated flowers become equally small brownish slightly winged seeds that are eaten by birds.

Because of the extreme toxicity of its foliage, spotted water hemlock is very infrequently offered for sale by native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Its value as a host and pollinator plant, however, cannot be ignored and it should be considered for plantings along lake edges away from the possible grazing of livestock. Ripe seed is easily germinated. Collect it when fully dry and sow it just beneath the soil surface. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Virginia buttonweed - Diodia virginiana

Virginia buttonweed (Diodia virginiana) is sometimes considered a "weed" when it occurs and spreads in a turf grass setting, but it is an attractive ground cover elsewhere. This perennial forb occurs throughout Florida in a variety of moist to average soil habitats and has also been reported in most of the eastern US from Texas and Oklahoma through the southern Midwest to the Atlantic.  

The prostrate stems are noticeably "hairy" and jointed. Individual plants can spread out in many directions for several feet over time. The narrow lanceolate leaves are sessile on these stems, somewhat "hairy" too, and deep green in color. They are opposite each other on the stems and about 1 inch long.  

Flowering occurs in most months in warmer parts of Florida.  The white to pinkish tubular flowers are produced at the axils of the leaves. Each is composed of 4 slightly fused, somewhat "hairy" petals and is about 1/2 inch across.  The flowers attract a variety of pollinators and the ripe seed capsules are also "hairy", ridged and elliptical.  

Virginia buttonweed can spread rapidly in a landscape setting by seed, by its rooting stems and by stem fragments that can root on their own if mowed or cut.  For these reasons, it is not a species likely to be cultivated by nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  Although adaptable and native, I do not recommend it for most landscape settings as it can crowd out other species and reduce diversity.  In a natural area, however, it can play an important ecological role as a pollinator plant.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Sandpaper vervain - Verbena scabra

The true vervains (Verbena spp.) are a mixed lot of native and nonnative species in Florida, characterized by tall upright stems and small fragrant flowers that attract the attention of a wide variety of pollinators. Very few species in this genus are native to a broad range of peninsular Florida. Sandpaper vervain (V. scabra) is an exception as it is found nearly statewide in a variety of open and disturbed habitats. It also occurs throughout the lower 1/3rd of the US from California to Virginia. Throughout its range, it is found in moist to upland soils.

This is a perennial species that produces stiff thin upright stems that can reach 2-3 feet tall by summer. These stems produce multiple branches.  The leaves are oval with decided teeth along the margins. They often are alternate along the stems, but can be whorled. Each has a short petiole. As the common and Latin names imply, they are rough to the touch.

Flowering occurs in the summer on numerous branches at the top of each stem. They occur in pairs. Each flower is no more than 1/8 inch long and comprised of 4 partially fused petals. The flowers are pale lavender to nearly white in color. Like other members of this genus, they are relished by pollinators. On the day I took these photos (Okeechobee County in mid-June), they were being assiduously visited by queens - a butterfly that almost would seem too large for these diminutive blooms. 

Sandpaper vervain is relatively weedy in appearance and not a likely candidate for commercial native plant nursery people.  It would make a good addition, however, to an open meadow-type pollinator garden where aesthetics are less important than function. Give it full to part sun and seasonally moist soil.

Narrow-leaved primrosewillow - Ludwigia linearis

There are nearly 30 species of native primrose willows in Florida and they are a very diverse genus in terms of growth form and preferred habitat. This makes field identification a bit tricky for some. Narrow-leaved primrose willow (Ludwigia linearis) is relatively easy to identify as it is a relatively diminutive upright species with decidedly narrow leaves. It is common to open moist to wet habitats throughout much of the Panhandle and then south to the upper two-thirds of the peninsula.  It also is found throughout much of the Southeast Coastal Plain from east Texas to New Jersey.

Narrow-leaved primrosewillow is a perennial that dies back to the ground in winter and reemerges in early spring.  The thin stems can reach a mature height of 3 feet by summer. Individual plants can produce up to 3 stems each. The stems tend to be reddish in color and smooth. The thin leaves alternate on the stem and are 1-3 inches long with entire leaf margins.

Flowering occurs in the summer months. Each bloom is comprised of 4 bright yellow rounded petals and is about 1 inch across.  They are sessile to the stems and this is a key field identification feature along with the leaves.  Flowers are pollinated mostly by bees and the ripened seed capsules are smooth and noticeably 4-sided.

This is a rather nondescript member of the genus and not offered for sale commercially as far as I know. It would be easy to grow from seed collected after the capsules turn brown and begin to split. Otherwise, simply enjoy it when exploring moist areas in much of the state.

Marsh seedbox - Ludwigia palustris

Marsh seedbox (Ludwigia palustris) is a low-growing member of a large genus native to most of Florida and the rest of North America. As its Latin name suggests, it is common to marshes and other low-lying habitats. In such areas, it can withstand prolonged inundation and is even sold as an aquarium plant because of this.

This is a perennial species. Over time, it produces mats of reddish stems that grow outward in all directions. These mats can extend several feet in all directions from the original stem. The leaves are small (about 1/8-1/4 inch), oval in shape, opposite each other on the stems, and dark green in color. They also are somewhat succulent in appearance.  

Flowering can occur in most months. The individual flowers are less than 1 inch across and comprised of four bright yellow circular petals.  Though small, they are quite striking. They attract the attention of bees for the most part.

Because of its growth form and size, this primrosewillow is not offered commercially by any of the native plant nurseries I am aware of in Florida associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. It is offered by sellers of aquarium plants, however, but most or all of those are offering specimens from locations outside of Florida. It should be easy to grow from cuttings if desired and would make an interesting ground cover at the edge of a pond, lake or seasonally flooded location.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Muck Sunflower - Helianthus simulans

 Muck sunflower (Helianthus simulans) is a perennial rhizomatous species found throughout much of north and central Florida. As its common name suggests, it occurs in wet soil habitats where it gets high sunlight. It is also found in the southern tier of states within the Southeast Coastal Plain from Louisiana to Georgia.

This species can be distinguished from other somewhat similar sunflowers by its foliage and its vigorous growth. The leaves are generally wider (up to 2 inches) than the common narrow-leaved sunflower (H. angustifolius) and they are very rough to the touch and dark green in color. Growth occurs rapidly in spring from a basal rosette. Each plant may eventually reach a mature height of 6-8 feet by summer and blooming occurs in late summer to fall. Multiple heads are produced on each stem. 

The flower heads are several inches across with dark to yellow disk flowers surrounded by a dozen or more bright yellow ray petals.  In full bloom, the weight of these flowers tends to bend the flower stem over. Like all other species in this genus, they attract a great variety of pollinators and the seeds are an important bird food in late fall to winter. The flower buds in the photo above were photographed in early June. I hope to add more photos to this post in the months ahead.

Muck sunflower is only rarely offered for sale by native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. As it requires wet soils and suckers aggressively, it is best planted along lake and pond edges with ample room to spread out. I have only recently planted a few along a lake edge in Pasco County and hope to learn more about it in the years ahead. 

Southeastern Sunflower - Helianthus agrestis

Southeastern sunflower (Helianthus agrestis) is found in moist to wet soil habitats throughout much of peninsular Florida except the most southerly counties. It is a near endemic with only one collection made historically (1904) near Thomasville, Georgia - near the Florida border. This is an annual species, generating from seed each spring before reaching a mature height of about 6 feet in the summer.  

Most sunflowers require sunny, open habitats and this is not an exception to that. Unlike many, however, it does not sucker, but needs to be able to reseed each year in moist mucky soils. Growth in the spring is rapid. The plant photographed above had reached blooming size by early June. The leaves are lanceolate with slightly serrate edges. Each leaf is about 1/2 inch wide - wider than the more-common narrow-leaved sunflower (H. angustifolia) and brighter green in color. The stems are smooth and each plant may produce several from the basal cluster.

The flower heads are several inches across with the bright yellow ray petals being about 1/2 inch across. Like all members of this genus, they attract the attention of a great many pollinators. The seeds are important to songbirds as well. Because of its annual nature, southeastern sunflower is rarely offered by native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. If you find one, make sure that you collect seed from your plants before the birds find it and sow them when ripe in a good potting mix for eventual transplanting. I have recently planted this at a project I am directing in Pasco County and will do this myself. It is my hope that if I get a sufficient number of plants that they will reseed themselves naturally. Time will tell.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Woodland lettuce - Lactuca floridana

Woodland lettuce (Lactuca floridana) is an annual or biennial native to disturbed somewhat shady moist habitats throughout most of Florida. It is also widespread across much of the eastern and central US, as well as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.  Though widespread here in Florida, this species and its close relatives are rarely included in wildflower guide books. Why that is so seems a mystery to me.

Lactuca is the genus that includes the edible lettuces of our salads, but the leaves of this species are bitter and are best eaten only after a thorough soaking in water for some time. The genus name is derived from the milky sap produced by most of this genus and woodland lettuce is no exception.  When in doubt as to whether this is actually wild lettuce, pick a piece off of a leaf and look for the white sticky sap that will emerge.

This species emerges from the seed bank in early spring and grows quickly to a mature height of about 4-6 feet. Deeply-lobed, pinnately veined, lanceolate to triangular, dandelion-like, basal leaves (to 3-10” long and 1-4” wide) have pointed tips, toothed margins and tapered bases. Smaller upper leaves are lanceolate. Leafy purplish stems to 7’ tall rise from the basal clump in spring topped by large branching inflorescences of pale blue flowers (hence the other common name of Florida blue lettuce) which bloom, only several at a time, from July to October. Each inflorescence is in the form of a loose panicle of 11-17 flowers (each to 1/2” across) featuring small, petal-like, pale blue (sometimes close to white) rays with no center disks. Flowers give way to flattened short-beaked achenes featuring white fluffy bristles (pappus). 

Woodland lettuce is not likely to ever be purposely grown as an ornamental by any of the native plant nurseries due to its short-lived nature and limited aesthetics. The small attractive compound flowers are visited by pollinators, however, and the greens can be used in much the same way that dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are further north. If you desire this plant in your landscape, it is easily grown from seed. Plant it in partial shade in a location that retains some moisture.

Starry Rosinweed - Silphium asteriscus

The Asteraceae includes some of the very best plants for home landscapes dedicated to providing nectar and pollen for pollinators. This includes the rosinweeds of which starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) is one of two native to Florida. Although the Midwestern prairies of my youth contain a great many species, most disappear as you go south. Kidney-leaf rosinweed (S. asteriscus) only makes it to central Florida in well-drained uplands. Starry rosinweed is found nearly statewide, but naturally only on the west coast, from the top of the Panhandle to Lee County in the south. In this region, it occurs primarily in open, slightly moist habitats.

Rosinweeds are perennials that die back to the ground in winter, though starry rosinweed does this much later in the fall than its close cousin. The basal leaves that emerge in spring are 6-10 inches long, several inches wide and extremely scabrous. Unlike its close cousin, the leaves are elliptical, unlobed and toothed along the leaf margins.  Growth occurs quickly in the spring and the stems reach 2-3 feet tall by April. Multiple flower heads occur at the end of these stems and flowering can occur into November. Each compound flower is surrounded by 1-2 dozen bright yellow ray petals and these surround the disk flowers that also are yellow. These, like other "sunflowers", open sequentially over 1-2 weeks. Unlike most asters, the disk flowers do not produce seed. Only the ray petals do.

Rosinweeds attract a great diversity of pollinators and are nearly always being visited by something during the day. Though kidney-leaf rosinweed is quite touchy regarding its growing conditions, starry rosinweed is quite adaptable and can be grown in nearly any condition found in a typical landscape setting. Because of this, it has become one of the most commonly grown native wildflowers in Florida and can be procured at nearly every native plant nursery affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  It will adapt to drier soils than it naturally occurs in, but water it well until fully established if you can't give it seasonably moist conditions. It grows easily from seed, collected when it is brown and dry, and it will regularly self seed in most landscapes.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Pine Hyacinth - Clematis baldwinii


Pine hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii) is the only upright member of this genus in Florida. It is an endemic perennial found throughout much of peninsular Florida in open mesic habitats. Although it grows upright, it does so on very thin stems that reach up to 2 feet tall. These arise from a set of leaves that are deeply dissected and 1-4 inches long. The leaves become linear up the stem. Pine hyacinth dies back to the ground in late fall and reemerges in early spring.

Flowering occurs throughout much of the year - from spring through November. The nodding pale lavender to deep pink blooms are produced on top of the thin stems. Each is 1-2 inches long with 4 distinctly recurved and slightly frilled petals. They are pollinated by bees - especially large-bodied species such as bumblebees. Clusters of decidedly fuzzy seeds ripen several months later.

This is a beloved genus among gardening enthusiasts and luckily this species is sometimes offered commercially by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. It is a species that I try to always have in my nursery - Hawthorn Hill. Seed can take several months to germinate once sown, but can be sped up by first soaking them and removing the outer covering. Though time consuming, the tiny seeds will germinate in about a month. Plant this in a location where it has ample sunlight and where it won't be crowded by other plants. It is adaptable to most soil conditions.  

Florida Scrub Rockrose - Crocathemum nashii

 Florida scrub rockrose (Crocanthemum nashii) is a perennial wildflower native to much of peninsular Florida in xeric habitats - scrub and sandhill.  Like other members of this genus, its flowers open in the morning and close by early afternoon. As these photos were taken in mid-afternoon, the bright yellow petals have closed for the day. New ones will open the following morning. This is a near-endemic species with a disjunct population found in a small region of North Carolina - approximately 330 miles from the Florida border.

Florida scrub rockrose is the only member of this genus in Florida with two-valved seed capsules and with pubescent ovaries and capsules. It is a somewhat upright species that stands about 8-12 inches tall. The narrow, linear leaves are approximately 8 inches long and dull green in color. The bright yellow flowers occur mostly in spring until early summer and occur on the ends of the stems. They number up to eight in each cluster. It also commonly produces cleistogamous flowers several months later - flower buds that do not open, but are pollinated inside the bud.  At this time there can be up to 40 buds on the terminal stems. The flowers are mostly pollinated by small bees.

All of the species in this genus make attractive additions to the landscape, but are rarely offered commercially. I do not have this one in my landscape.  They require open sunny locations in well-drained soils. 

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Fairy Hats - Clematis crispa

Flower Close-up

Fairy hats (Clematis crispa) is perhaps more commonly referred to as swamp leather flower, but I find that name to be far too mundane for such a wonderful wildflower. I prefer to use the name coined by my granddaughter many years ago. This is a perennial vining plant that is common throughout much of the northern two-thirds of Florida in moist to seasonally wet habitats. It dies back to the ground each winter and reestablishes itself by spring. This species is a twiner, without tendrils, and it twines itself throughout the adjacent vegetation for many feet in all directions once it's established.

Fairy hats has glabrous compound leaves composed of three leaflets. They branch off the main stem opposite from each other and are noticeably veined. The stems are often reddish and become semi-woody over time.  Flowering occurs over many months from early summer to late fall. They are pale lavender in color. The edges of the reflexed petals are edged in white. As my granddaughter sees it, this makes them look like tiny hats - the kind a fairy might wear and I can't argue. These blooms are especially attractive to bumblebees and they buzz pollinate them while going in for the nectar.

Although this is a wetland species, fairy hats has done well also in my typical landscape settings. It does not withstand being completely dried out, but is is relatively drought tolerant once established. It clambers throughout the vegetation in this setting and the flowers are not always easily admired. I have most of my plants in a pot next to a foundation hedge. Here, I can make sure they get extra water and the flowers rise to the top of the hedge where I (and the bumblebees) can see them.

This species is not frequently available from native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries so it may take some sleuthing to find it. I have been propagating here at Hawthorn Hill, however, for many years from seed collected from my plants. The seed of all native Clematis can take several months to germinate. Soaking it first and removing the outer seed coat speeds this up by several weeks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Crenulate Leadplant - Amorpha crenulata

Flowers - Close up


Leaves close up - Note the crenulate edges to the leaf margin
Amorpha herbacea - Note the lack of crenulate edges on the margins

Crenulate leadplant (Amorpha crenulata) has also been described as a unique variety of the very common herbaceous leadplant (A. herbacea) but that is in error in my (and many others') opinion. They are very distinct from each other and quite easy to distinguish.  While crenulate leadplant is an upright evergreen woody shrub, herbaceous leadplant dies back nearly to the ground each winter and tends to grow horizontally more than it does upright. Crenulate leadplant can get to be at least 4-5 feet tall, while I've rarely seen herbaceous leadplant stand more than 2. There also are differences in the leaf margins - and I've photographed both above for your comparison.

In nature, crenulate leadplant occurs only in a few pine rockland areas in Miami-Dade County in extreme south Florida. It is endemic to Florida and listed as endangered by both the federal and state government. Its rarity is due, however, to the widespread loss of this special habitat. It was likely more widespread prior to development pressures.

Crenulate leadplant is an evergreen shrub that loses some of its foliage in the winter when planted north of its natural range. Each plant produces many upright stems that are rigid enough not to bend much as the clusters of blooms are produced at the ends. The stems and leaf veins are reddish  and the leaves are a deep bluish green - much different than in A. herbacea as shown above. Like many legumes the leaves are compound - composed of 20 or more leaflets. Each leaflet has crenulate edges along the margins.

Like many south Florida natives, blooming occurs over most months. The one photographed above in my Pasco County landscape, began flowering in early April. In contrast, the A. herbacea planted near it shows no signs yet of flower buds. The flowers occur on 2-3 inch long racemes and the flowers open from the bottom upwards over several weeks. Each flower bud is reddish purple in color and the open flowers are white with contrasting yellow stamens.  Like all members of this genus, they are eagerly visited by a wide assortment of pollinators. It also may be a host to the silver spotted skipper.

Crenulate leadplant is sometimes offered by native plant nurseries in the southern parts of Florida. I have found it to be an easy plant to both propagate and maintain in my central Florida landscape.  They do not require the types of alkaline soils that they occur in naturally and they are tolerant of a wide variety of soil moisture conditions. The one requirement seems to be adequate light to bloom. A specimen I planted at least a decade ago has never flowered though it is still alive after all of these years. This is a spectacular addition to a pollinator garden and should be more widely propagated. I have been doing so at Hawthorn Hill using the seed from my landscape specimen. I do not know how much cold this species can tolerate, butt it has not suffered negative impacts from temperatures in the mid-20's F.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Spring 2021 Open House

 I've picked a date for my next Open House - Saturday, May 22, 9 am - 1 pm

1648 Paragon Place, Holiday, FL  34690

Below is the list of native wildflowers that I will have for sale. I hope you can join me and take a few of these home with you.

Open House – Hawthorn Hill                                                                                       Spring 2021

Plants marked as (***) in very limited numbers/Plants marked as FALL will be ready later this year

All 4” pots are $4. Very few in 1 gallon pots are $8.

Wildflowers                                                                                                                      Host, SFL native, Wetland

Allium canadense                                            Meadow garlic***         

Amorpha crenulata                                         Crenulate leadplant                                        H?

Amorpha fruticosa                                          Leadplant                                                            H

Amorpha herbacea                                         Sandhill leadplant                                            H

Ampelaster caroliniensis                               Carolina aster                                                    W

Arnoglossum floridanum                              Florida Indian plantain

Arnoglossum ovatum var. lancifolium     Lance-leaved Indian plantain                      W

Asclepias incarnata                                          Pink swamp milkweed                                   H, W

Asclepias perennis                                          White swamp milkweed                                               H, W

Asclepias tuberosa                                          Butterfly milkweed                                         H

Berlandiera subacaulis                                   Greeneyes

Capsicum annuum                                           Bird pepper                                                        SFL

Clematis baldwinii                                            Pine hyacinth

Clematis crispa                                                  Fairy hats                                                             W

Clematis reticulata                                           Netted leaf leather-flower

Crotalaria rotundifolia                                    Rabbitbells                                                          H?

Eryngium aquaticum                                       Blue button snakeroot                                  W

Eryngium integrifolium                                  Blue button snakeroot                                  W

Eryngium yuccifolium                                     Rattlesnake master                                                                                        

Garberia heterophylla                                   Garberia***

Helianthus radula                                             Rayless sunflower***

Hibiscus coccineus                                           Scarlet hibiscus (White & Red)                   W

Hibiscus grandiflorus                                      Pink hibiscus                                                      W

Hibiscus moscheutos                                      Crimson-eyed rosemallow                           W

Hibiscus poeppigii                                            Poeppig’s rosemallow***                           SFL

Jacquemontia pentanthos                           Skyblue clustervine                                         SFL

Kosteletzkya pentacarpos                            Virginia saltmarsh mallow                             W

Liatris aspera                                                      Tall blazing star

Liatris elegantula                                              Elegant blazing star

Liatris gracilis                                                      Graceful blazing star                                      

Liatris savannensis                                           Savanna blazing star      

Nemastylis floridana                                       Fall ixia/Celestial lily        ($10 each)

Ocimum campechianum                               Native basil                                                         SFL

Oclemena reticulata                                       Pinebarren aster                                             

Penstemon multiflorus                                 White beardtongue                                       

Rudbeckia hirta (southern variety)           Black-eyed susan

Rudbeckia laciniata                                          Cutleaf coneflower

Rudbeckia mohrii                                             Mohr’s coneflower                                         W

Rudbeckia mollis                                              Softhair coneflower                                       

Rudbeckia triloba                                             Brown-eyed susan

Ruellia caroliniensis                                         Wild petunia

Salvia coccinea                                                  Red salvia

Salvia lyrata                                                        Lyre-leaved sage

Scutellaria incana                                             Common skullcap

Senna ligustrina                                                                Privet cassia***                                                               H

Silphium asteriscus                                          Rosinweed

Solidago odora chapmanii                            Chapman’s goldenrod

Solidago stricta                                                  Wand goldenrod

Stokesia laevis                                                   Stoke’s aster

Symphyotrichum chapmanii                        Chapman’s aster                                              H

Symphyotrichum concolor                           Silver aster                                                          H

Symphyotrichum elliotii                                                Elliot’s aster                                                        H

Symphyotrichum georgianum                    Georgia aster                                                     H

Symphyotrichum pilosum                            White oldfield aster                                        H

Symphyotrichum undulatus                        Wavy-leaved aster                                          H

Tephrosia angustissima coralicola             Coral hoarypea                                                 H?, SFL

Thalictrun revolutum                                      Wavy-leaved meadow rue

Tiedemannia filiformis                                   Water dropwort                                               W, H

Vernonia angustifolia                                     Tall ironweed

Vernonia gigantea                                           Giant ironweed

Vernonia novaboracensis                             New York ironweed

Viola sorarria (white flowers)                     Common wood violet                                    H



Andropogon ternarius                                   Splitbeard bluestem                                       H?

Andropogon virginicus var. glaucus          Chalky bluestem                                              H

Chasmanthium laxum                                    Slender woodoats

Sorghastrum apalachicolense                     Apalachicola Indiangrass                               H?

Sorghastrum nutans                                       Yellow Indiangrass                                           H

Sorghastrum secundum                                                Lop-sided Indiangrass                                    H?



Woody Plants (Small – 4” pots)

Carya floridana                                                  Scrub hickory***

Quercus chapmanii                                         Chapman’s oak***

Sideroxylon lanuginosum                             Gum bully***

Sideroxylon tenx                                              Tough bumelia***

Nonnative plants

Everglades tomato                                                                                                                          H, SFL

Blue chai butterfly pea***                                                                                                          H