Saturday, March 30, 2024

Hairy Phlox - Phlox amoena




Hairy phlox (Phlox amoena) is an uncommon native phlox in Florida - vouchered sporadically in extreme north Florida: Escambia and Jefferson Counties in the Panhandle and four counties in and around the Jacksonville area in northeastern Florida.  It is widely distributed north of Florida, however, from Georgia and Alabama north to North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.  It is a perennial wildflower most common to upland sunny habitats such as sandhills, open woodland edges and roadsides.  

This species dies back to the ground in winter and reemerges again in spring.  It eventually reaches a mature height of about 1 foot prior to flowering in late spring.  Though phlox species share many characteristics, hairy phlox is rather easily identified by the noticeable hairs on both the leaves and stems. Even the flower calyx is hairy though the flowers themselves are smooth. The narrow eliptical leaves are opposite along the stem and up to 2 inches long.  

The flowers are typically shaped and colored for others in this genus; the color can range from pale pink to a much deeper rose.  The center is marked by a deeper color. One characteristic to also look for is that the stamens do not extend outside of the corolla tube of the 5 fused petals. Other phlox species that I am more familiar with attract a wide variety of pollinators and I suspect this species does as well.  Pollinated flowers produce small seed capsules that "explode" when fully ripe, scattering the seed away from the parent plant.

Many native phlox are available from various native plant nurseries in the Southeast, but I can find none that currently offer this one.  It would seem to be a species that would warrant commercial availability.  

The above photos were taken in south Georgia by my friend, Floyd Giffith and used by permission.


Gulf Coast Lupine - Lupinus westianus





Gulf Coast lupine (Lupinus westianus) is a short-lived perennial endemic to the western Panhandle counties of Florida and listed as a state-threatened species.  Like other native members of this genus, it is found in very well-drained sandy and open sunny habitats.  Gulf Coast lupine is most common near the Gulf Coast on relic dunes though its salt toleranance is not well reported.  Most lupines, except sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis), live at most for three years, flowering sparingly during year two and forming large plants that flower expansively in year three.  They persist by reseeding and their seeds survive for many years in the seedbank.  Disturbance can stimulate germination and result in large areas of new plants.

Mature plants reach a height of about 3 feet and can spread to about that distance in width.  The leaves and stems are covered by soft hairs and the leaves are alternate on the stems. Each leaf is unifoliate and without the stipules present in some other Florida species.  The stems are herbaceous in young plants, but become "woody" in older plants. 

Flowering occurs in spring.  The purple to lavender blooms occur on terminal spikes that arise on the multiple stems.  Like other lupines, there is a distinct keel above the fused lower lip. The keel is marked by a deeper purple patch that extends from the tip to the throat.  Plants in bloom are very showy.  Pollination is likely performed primarily by large-bodied bees, though I have no personal observations of that.  The pollinated flowers produce the typical oval seed pods and these are quite hairy.

Florida's native lupines (with the exception of sundial lupine) are notoriously difficult to propagate for commercial or restoration production though they are in high demand for such purposes. Though seeds are not difficult to germinate without special scarification/stratification, the seedlings form complex relationships with soil microbiota and they are very difficult to keep them alive for any appreciable period of time in containers.  They also are difficult to grow out via direct seeding unless the proper soil conditions already exist for them.  For these reasons, Gulf Coast lupine is not propagated by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, or by others. Its conservation is the target of the Center for Plant Conservation and its future rests largely in protecting coastal dune properties within its range from development and by wise land management.

All of the photos in this post were taken by my friend, Floyd Griffith, and used by permission, except the comparision one which was produced by Edwin Bridges, also used by permission.





Sunday, March 24, 2024

Large-leaved Jointweed - Polygonum smallianum





 

Large-leaved jointweed (Polygonum smallianum) is a perennial sub-shrub found in scrub habitat within a very restricted range in western peninsular Florida and in one county (Baldwin) adjacent to Florida in Alabama.  It is listed as a state-threatened species and that denotation is largely due to the extensive habitat loss occurring within this region.  Large-leaved jointweed forms stiff, almost-woody stems that can stand 3 feet tall.  As its common name indicates, large, spatulate-shaped, succulent leaves alternate up these stems. At the base, these leaves can be nearly 3 inches long. 

Flowering occurs in spring.  The above photos, taken by my friend Floyd Griffith and used by permission, were taken on 15 March 2024.  Like other members of this genus, the tiny flowers occur as racemes in an open inflorescence.  This red-flowered form has only been reported from Franklin County, Florida.  Elsewhere in its range, the flowers are white with pink anthers as evidenced in the below photo taken by Roger Hammer and used in the University of South Florida's ISB site.


Jointweeds are typically pollinated by a variety of pollinators and I suspect this is true for this species.  

Large-leaved jointweed is not available commercially by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and its protected status makes it illegal to collect any part of it without permits.  This is an interesting component of our flora that should be admired when encountered in those areas where it still occurs.


 

Bearded Milkvetch - Astragalus villosus

Photo by Steve Coleman




 Two photos above by Floyd Griffith

Bearded milkvetch (Astragalus villosus) is an annual member of the legume family and one of two milkvetches native to Florida.  I have written about the other (A. obcordatus) previously.  Unlike A. obcordatus which has a very limited range in Florida and the Southeast, bearded milkvetch is widespread throughout the Florida Panhandle and the northern peninsula in open well-drained habitats - often those that are somewhat disturbed such as roadsides and pastures.  This is a component of the Southeastern flora and also is found in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.  

Bearded milkvetch forms a taproot in late winter and then forms numerous prostrate stiff stems that spread outward in all directions for about 3 feet.  The compound leaves are composed of 10 or more rounded leaflets without a noticeable notch at the tip.  Both the stems and the leaves are covered by villous to hispid hairs.  There also are noticeable stipules at the base of each leaf.

Flowering occurs in the spring.  Clusters of lemon yellow blooms are formed at the tips of each branch, though they can appear much paler than those in the photos above.  Like most members of the bean/pea family they are composed of a noticeable keel above a fused lip.  The calyx immediately below the petals is hairy as well.

Milkvetches are important nitrogen fixers and are pollinated mostly by big-bodied bees.  Although many legumes serve as host plants for butterflies such as the long-tailed skipper, I can find no record of them using this genus and no record that this species has been used in herbal medicine.

Although this is an attractive and useful wildflower, I also could find no records of it being offered for sale either as seed or plants.  As a short-lived annual it would have limited use as a landscape plant, but a nice addition to a larger restoration planting in the right growing conditions.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Florida Milkvetch - Astragalus obcordatus



 

Florida milkvetch (Astragalus obcordatus) is a perennial legume (bean/pea family) that is nearly endemic to Florida.  Isolated populations have been vouchered in Mississippi, Alabama,  and Georgia, but it is found throughout much of the Panhandle and the northern half of peninsular Florida. Throughout its range, it is most commonly found in open mesic to xeric uplands.

Although this is a widespread and common genus, Florida milkvetch is only one of two species found in Florida. The other species, bearded milkvetch (A. villosus) is an upright species with much smaller flowers that are yellow instead of pinkish purple.  As the above photos, taken by my friend, Steve Coleman and used by permission, demonstrate, Florida milkvetch is a prostrate species that creeps across the ground - often for several feet away from the center.  They sometimes root at the nodes and/or by underground rhizomes.  The stems are solid (nearly woody in appearance) and often glabrous - though they can sometimes be sparsely hairy.  The compound leaves are composed of many (10 or more) small rounded leaflets with a noticeable notch at the tip.  The leaflets are opposite each other along the petiole and hairy on one or both of the surfaces.  The leaves and stems spread outward across the surface of the ground.

Flowering occurs in the spring.  Clusters of these appear at the tips of the many stems.  They are typical in shape to most other members of the legume family with a noticeable keel and fused lower lip.  They are a rich pinkish purple with darker striations in the petals.  Although I have no observations of this, I suspect that it is mostly pollinated by large-bodied bees.

Legumes are important species for fixing nitrogen in the soil and Florida milkvetch produces these types of root nodules.  As a genus, Astragalus has been used as an herbaol medicine, commonly combined with other herbs to treat upper respiratory infections, hayfever, chronic fatigue syndrome, and kidney diseases.  The efficacy of this not scientifically documented, however, and I could find no literature regarding Florida milkvetch.  Although Astragalus roots and tinctures are available online, I could find few sources of this genus for sale as live plants and none for Florida milkvetch. This is a species to admire when found afield.




Southern Bluet - Houstonia micrantha


Photos above by Floyd Griffith

Photo above by R.W. Smith
From website of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Southern bluet (Houstonia micrantha) is an annual wildflower vouchered only in Florida from Escambia County - the most western county in the Florida Panhandle.  It is not a listed species here, however, and is common to the west of Florida - from Mississippi to east Texas and Oklahoma.  There are a few local populations also vouchered  from Georgia and southern Arkansas. Throughout its range it is found most commonly in open somewhat disturbed uplands such as roadsides and pastures.  

This is a "cool season" species and it makes its appearance in early winter. Like other bluets in Florida, it is a diminutive species. It tends to creep outward on somewhat succulent stems for several inches away from its center and it stands no more than 3 inches tall.  The elliptical to almost rounded leaves are opposite along the stem.

Blooming occurs in the winter - any time from January through March. The 4-petaled flowers are white with a lemon yellow center.  As such, they are very similar to its close cousin Innocence (Houstonia procumbens).  The key differences between the two are that Innocence is a perennial with completely prostrate stems while Southern bluet (and tiny bluet (H. pusilla)) are annuals with semi-erect stems.  Southern bluet can be mistaken for tiny bluet but there are key differences in their flower structure as documented above by my friend Floyd Griffith.  Tiny bluet's flowers can be white but are more frequently purple to pink. Southern bluet's blooms are always white. The above photos clearly show their differences in the position of their corolla tubes and calyx lobes.

This is a species unlikely to ever be sold commercially by any of the regional native nurseries within its range given its annual nature and diminutive stature, but seed mixes are sometimes sold by hobbyists with the addition of tiny bluet. As such, it makes an interesting white and bluish temporary ground cover that would have to annually reseed.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Tiny Bluet - Houstonia pusilla

 



Tiny bluet (Houstonia pusilla) is a diminutive member of a genus that also includes the widespread wildflower commonly known as Innocence (Houstonia procumbens).  This species, however, is confined to the entire Panhandle region of Florida.  It also is common throughout much of the Eastern and Midwestern portions of the U.S., except the most northern tier of states.  Throughout its extensive range, it is found in a variety of mesic open habitats.  Tiny bluet is an annual that makes its appearance in winter when its tiny rosette of basal leaves become noticeable.  The mostly glabrous rounded leaves are about 1/4 inch long, opposite along the flower stem and sessile.  

Flowering occurs in very early spring.  The flower stalks stand about 2 inches tall at maturity and a solitary flower is produced at the top of each.  The individual flowers are also tiny - about 1/4 inches across and composed of 4 oval pink to bluish purple petals with a deeper rose center.  Although each bloom is small, a patch of tiny bluet is quite showy.  I suspect that they are pollinated mostly by small bees, though I have no experience with this plant.  As an annual, this plant needs to reseed to persist and it requires open ground to do that effectively.

In the right conditions, I suspect that this annual would persist if grown from seed. I have never seen it offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but seed is sometimes offered from out-of-state sources.  I have never tried it or attempted to grow this species here in central Florida where it is well outside of its natural range. 

The photographs in this post were taken by Floyd Griffith and used by permission.






Saturday, March 16, 2024

Common Leopardbane - Arnica acaulis







Common leopardbane (Arnica acaulis) is a rare perennial wildflower in Florida, vouchered only from Jackson and Liberty Counties in the Panhandle, but more commonly found in the Southeast Coastal Plain north of us from Georgia to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Florida, it is listed as a state endangered species. Like so many wildflowers of north Florida, this plant dies back to the ground in winter and reemerges again in early spring.  Although it is reported to be common in wetland edges elsewhere, Florida populations occur in open sunny moist uplands such as pine flatwoods.  

Perhaps what's most distinctive about this wildflower is its foliage.  Common leopardbane occurs as a thick cluster of broad and stemless basal leaves - each about 2-5 inches long and covered by noticeable glandular hairs.  The basal rosettes themselves are well more than 1 foot across.  The flower stalks emerge from the basal rosettes in spring and eventually reach a height of 2-3 feet.  The bloom season in Florida is from March to very early summer. Several flowers occur atop each of these stalks.  Without the distinctive foliage, this species could be mistaken by its flowers for a good number of other yellow daisy-like blooms.  Each is 2- 2 1/2 inches across, composed of numerous elongated bright yellow petals that surround a similarly yellow center of disk flowers.  Like all members of the aster family, the flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators. Some members of this genus are used as herbal medicine, though I could not find any records for common leopardbane. I also could not find any sources for this species - either as seed or plants, in Florida or elsewhere within its range.

These photos were taken by my friend and gifted nature photographer, Steve Coleman, and used with permission.




Wood Betony (Canadian lousewort) - Pedicularis canadensis


Wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis) is a perennial wildflower found across the eastern half of North America from east Texas north to Minnesota and Maine in the U.S. and in the adjoining lower tier of provinces in Canada, though it has been vouchered in Florida in only 6 counties in the Panhandle with a seventh disjunct population in Clay County south of Jacksonville.  Although its common name would suggest it otherwise, wood betony is not a mint but a member of the Orobanchaceae - a family that includes the false foxgloves (Agalinus spp.), bluehearts (Buchnera spp.), and blacksennas (Seymeria spp.) among others.  All of these are semi-parasitic on their neighbor's root systems. It is the only member of this genus native to Florida.  Throughout this vast range, it is most often found in open upland sites such as open woodlands and clearings.

Wood betony dies back to the ground in winter and reemerges again in early spring.  As it emerges, the foliage appears maroon in color, but turns a more traditional green as it matures.  The foliage occurs as a basal rosette of deeply dissected, almost fernlike leaves that may be up to 6 inches long and 1-2 inches wide.  They tend to lie parallel to the ground so that the plants rarely stand more than 6 inches tall.  

Wood betony is an early spring bloomer.  The flowers are formed in a cluster at the top of a single stalk that reaches about 12 inches in height. The color is quite variable and, to some extent, dependent on the amount of sunlight the plant receives according to the literature.  The rich rose colored upper petals in these specimens is not typical  Most commonly, the upper petals are a more brownish red and more faded.  The overall color of the blooms is a butter yellow. The early bloom time makes it an important nectar source for bees - especially the larger bodied species such as bumblebees.  

Although both attractive and useful in the landscape, its semi-parasitic nature on other plants growing with it, makes it a less-than-ideal choice for most garden settings.  I have never seen it offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but it is available as seed or plants from sources outside of Florida.  I have not tried any of these offerings in my own landscapes.

The above photos were taken in north Florida, by my friend and excellent nature photographer, Floyd Griffin and used by permission.

 


Sunday, March 10, 2024

Yellow Fumewort - Corydalis flavula




Yellow fumewort (Corydalis flavula) is an annual wildflower found in only three Florida counties (Jackson, Calhoun, and Liberty) in the central Panhandle.  It is widely distributed north of us, however, and is vouchered from the eastern Great Plains to the east coast north to New York and Massachusetts.  Throughout its wide distribution, it is most commonly found in open, deciduous woodlands in moist, but well-drained soil.  

This is a winter annual, meaning that it sets seed in the summer and reappears in winter or very early spring.  It requires the heat of summer to induce seed germination - unlike many species that require cold stratification.  This is a rather diminutive plant that might be overlooked when not in flower.  At maturity, it only reaches a height of 12 inches, though the flower stalks may stand a few inches taller.  Its distinctive foliage is easily discerned by a watchful eye, however.  Each leaf is palmately veined with deeply dissected lobes.  In Florida, I know of no other wildfower that is similar, though if you live or have lived north of here, the foliage is similar to that of Durchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). The leaves occur on pinkish stems and lie mostly horizontal to the ground.  

Flowering occurs in the late winter to early spring. The flowers are bright lemon yellow in color with green markings along the interior edge of the petals,  They occur in clusters at the end of the flower stalks. The upper petals are fused while the lower petal extends outward and down -reminiscent of many flowers in the mint family though yellow fumewort is in the Papaveraceae.  There is a small spur at the back of each bloom. Once the blooms are finished, it produces long reddish brown seed pods that eventually dehisce and scatter the tiny black seeds. Given the shape of its flowers, I suspect it is mostly pollinated by bees. 

As an annual, this is a species that requires the right soil conditions to reseed or the help of a human cultivator to collect its seed and give it the right conditions to germinate and be replanted.  All of this makes it a wildflower poorly suited to most home landscapes and it has never been offered for sale by native nurseires in Florida associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  It is available, however, from several nurseries to our north - as plants or seed. An Asian relative, (Corydalis yanhusuo) has been used as an herbal supplement to support cardiovascular and digestive systems, but I have found no evidence of our native species having any medicinal value. 

These wonderful photos were takn by Steve Coleman and used by permission.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Florida Water Aster - Symphyotrichum fontinale


Florida water aster (Symphyotrichum fontinale) is an endemic perennial member of one of the most varied and important families of wildflowers in Florida (and North America).  This species occurs sporadically in Florida from Holmes County in the Panhandle to Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties at the southern tip of the state.  Although its distribution appears to be scattered based on herbarium records, it is likely to have been largely overlooked. This is an aster confined to sunny to partly sunny moist freshwater habitats - marsh edges, floodplains, and ditch banks, among others.

Throughout most of its range in Florida, it dies back to a basal rosette of leaves in the early winter and reemerges shortly after in early spring.  It eventually reaches a height of about 3 feet on a narrow upright stem.  The leaves are a rich green in color, linear in shape and moderately covered with stout hairs.  The stems are often more densely bristly.  The leaves are without a petiole, alternate on the stem, and the edges are largely without teeth (entire margins).

Flowering occurs in late fall.  Like most members of this genus, a great many ray petals surround a central head of yellow disc flowers. The ray petals can vary from nearly white to lavender.  They are produced atop the main stem and multiple side stems. Like other members of this genus, the flowers attract the attention of a wide diversity of pollinators. Although not specifically reported, it also likely serves as a host to the pearl crescent butterfly.

I have been collecting native Florida asters now for at least half a decade, but I have not seen this species in the wild nor ever seen it offered for sale by members of FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  I suspect it behaves similarly to the widely distributed Elliott's aster, but it would be easily distinguished by its stark foliage differences. I'll be looking for it more purposely in the future.

The above photo was taken recently by my friend and skilled naturalist, Roger Hammer, and used with permission.


Field Pansy - Viola rafinesquei


Field pansy, also known as Johnny jump-up,  (Viola rafinesquei) is one of at least 12 species of violets found in Florida.  The taxonomy of our violets remains a bit confused, but this member is easily distinguished from the others.  To me, at least, it looks quite similar to the popular horticultural pansy; hence its common name.  In fact, horticultural varieties of pansies are violet hybrids.  Field pansy is native to much of the Florida Panhandle with an outlying population in Marion County. It is a widespread species outside of Florida - found throughout eastern North America and west of the Mississippi to Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota. Throughout its range, it is most common in open disturbed upland habitats in a wide variety of soil types.  

Field pansy is an annual that can spread rapidly by seed or by undergound rhizomes.  Because of this, it is sometimes considered weedy.  Like other members of this genus, it is low growing, but it forms erect upright stems with spatula-shaped leaves up the stems to just below the solitary flowers.  Each bloom stands 3-4 inches high and consists of 5 dark-veined petals with the side petals being "bearded" and the lip having a distinct yellow patch.  The colors of these petals varies from nearly white to blue.  One characteristic that distinguishes it from other violets outside of our range is that the petals are longer than the green sepals.  Like other members of the violet genus, flowering occurs in the spring.

In states north of Florida, violets are important host plants for butterfly species like the great spangled fritillary.  In Florida, this genus is sometimes used by the variegated fritillary, though it is not considered to be a main host.  Violets are pollinated mostly by small bees. The seeds are eaten by doves and other ground birds.  Field pnasy is sometimes offered for sale in states outside of Florida and marketed as Johnny jump-ups and/or by its former Latin name - Viola tricolor.  

The photo above was taken recently by my friend and wonderful photographer, Floyd Griffith, and used by permission.



Saturday, February 10, 2024

White sunbonnets - Chaptalia albicans



White sunbonnets (Chaptalia albicans) is a state-threatened perennial wildflower native to the pine rockland habitats of Miami-Dade County.  It is not an endemic species, however, as it also is found in the West Indies and parts of Central America.  Throughout this range, it occurs in sunny, but moist, shallow alkaline soils. As such, it is quite drought tolerant once established. It is not tolerant of salts, however.

Like its only other Florida relative, wooly sunbonnets (C. tomentosa), it spends much of the year as a rosette of basal leaves. It differs as these leaves are not tomentose and have noticeable teeth along the leaf margins.  They are elliptical and 6-8 inches long.  Flowering can occur at any time of the year.  The 8-12 inch flower stalks emerge from the center of the basal leaves and each produces a single bloom at the tip.  The white-petaled flowers are similar to those of wooly sunbonnets, but much smaller in size.  They often are less than 1 inch across. the buds also are more elongated.  Like all members of the Asteraceae, they attract the attention of pollinators.

White sunbonnets is occasionally offered for sale by native plant nuseries in South Florida.  I purchased these 3 specimens recently and have yet to add them to the native wildflower planting I'm developing at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens. I hope that they are adaptable to my conditions and that I can propagate them, as I am doing with wooly sunbonnets, for sale in the future. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

White Screwstem - Bartonia verna


White screwstem (Bartonia verna) is an annual member of the Genian family found nearly statewide in Florida in the edges of open shallow sunny wetlands.  It has not been reported in Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties.  It is a plant of coastal counties throughout the Southeast Coastal Plain as well - from eastern Louisiana to North Carolina with one report from eastern Texas.  It is considered an obligate wetland species throughout this range. It is one of many plants first described by French naturalist Andre Michaux.

One must look closely to find this species and you are likely only to see it when it is in bloom.  The frail stem stands only 4-8 inches in height and is nearly leafless.  These stems are smooth and reddish in color. They are topped by delicate white flowers - often branching near the top, each with a single bloom at the end of the stem as can be seen in the photo above.  Each flower typically has four bright white petals surrounding a noticeable bright green ovary and four stamens.  As the Latin name suggests, the flowers are most commonly produced in spring, but can occur from November through May in Florida. It flowers are reported to attract bees and butterflies.

Because of its overall nature, white screwstem is not a good candidate for home landscapes and has not been propagated by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.  It is simply a beautiful wildflower to be looked for if exploring wet flatwoods or the edges of marshes and bogs from winter to spring.

The above photo was taken by Steve Coleman and used by permission.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Fourleaf Vetch - Vicia acutifolia


 

Fourleaf vetch (Vicia acutifolia) is a member of the bean family (Fabaceae) that occurs widely throughout peninsular Florida and much of the Panhandle in a wide variety of wet to moist open habitats such as pond and depressional wetland edges.  It's overall range is mostly confined to Florida, though it extends along the coastal counties of Georgia and South Carolina.  It is a perennial that dies back in the late fall and reemerges again in winter.  Here in central Florida it is present yearround.  

As a whole, vetches are sprawling herbaceous plants and fourleaf vetch is no exception.  Its thin stems can extend up to 3 feet from the main stem.  The narrow leaves that come to a point at the end are bipinnate and alternate along the stem.  They are deciduous for a brief time from late fall to early winter.  

Flowering mostly occurs from early January through May though some flowers can occur in other months - especially in South Florida.  The blooms are white to light lavender with a decided deep lavender spot in the throat.  The shape is typical for members of the bean family and they are arranged as a raceme along the axils of the stems.  Each flower is about 1/4 inch long.  

Legumes in general are widely used host plants for a variety of the smaller sulfur butterflies and some of the skippers. Fourleaf vetch might serve as a host for several of these, but it is reported to be used by the barred  yellow.  The flowers are likely pollinated by small bees; as are many members of the legume family. This sprawling perennial can cover over diminutive plants in the habitats it occurs in, but for the most part it does no real harm to the grasses such as maindencane and sawgrass that it often uses for support.  It can be easily grown from the ripe seed that is produced in the 1-inch narrow pods that it produces from late winter to early summer.