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. 

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