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.


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