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Wednesday's Wildflower: Atlantic Pigeonwings

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ATLANTIC PIGEONWINGS, Clitoria mariana L. Pea Family (Fabaceae) Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter


The upper leaves of this vining species have 3 ovate to ovate-lanceolate leaflets that reach up to 2½" long and ¾" wide. The violet or pink flowers reach 2" long. A similar, related, endemic species (Clitoria fragrans) has narrower leaflets, sweetly fragrant flowers, and is known only from the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Orange, Polk, and Highlands Counties.
Atlantic pigeonwings blooms in March and continues into October, so look for it in sandhills, scrub, and forest margins throughout much of mainland Florida. For butterfly gardeners, it is a larval host plant of the long-tailed skipper, hoary edge, and southern cloudywing butterflies.
Clitoria alludes to the similarity of the keel of the flower to a clitoris on female genitalia. When the rather risqué genus was first named by Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) in 1753, he received sharp criticism from other taxonomists of the t…

In Touch: Teaching children to value and respect the wilderness and the creatures that live there.

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Submitted by by Steve Franklin, Guest blogger

I feel certain that, like me, most of you can recall more than one occasion when you didn’t explain your thoughts about a subject as well as know you can. I’m currently experiencing one of those moments.

On the day before Earth Day, a few other volunteers and I conducted an educational field trip event for the first graders from Lake Alfred Elementary School. My portion of the program involved taking them for a short hike on one of the trails at Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve, which is located in the City of Lake Alfred.

Throughout the hike, I was discussing map reading, hiking safety, trail etiquette, and what it means to be a good steward of the land. However, I’m not certain that I did a good enough job of explaining the importance of being thoughtful and considerate of others when we’re out to enjoy the clean, wholesome fun that nature-related activities provide. Did I instill in them a new appreciation of nature and a concern f…

Wednesday’s Wildflower: Seaside Gentian

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Seaside Gentian: Eustoma exultatum Submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami-Dade Chapter, resident of the lower Florida Keys


The beautiful Seaside Gentian, Eustoma exultatum, is a herbaceous wildflower found in brackish to fresh wet coastal areas, and inland in wet prairies. The stunning flowers are usually a shade of light to medium purple with a dark purple center, but some flowers appear almost white with dark purple centers.

Eustoma means wide or beautiful wide-open mouth (referring to the flower’s shape), while exaltatum means tall. These flowers may reach several feet high, with gray-green leaves that clasp the stem.












Family Name:Gentianaceae Genus/Species: Eustoma exultatum Common Name(s): Seaside Gentian Native Range: Southeastern, midwestern and western United States south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America Hardiness zone: 10-11 Soil Type: wet, poorly drained Preferred Sun: Full Height at maturity: 1’ to 3’ Propagation: (seed, seedling) Dried pods …

Wednesday's Wildflower: Southern Beeblossom

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Southern Beeblossom, Onenothera simulansSubmitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.



Southern Beeblossom is a common wildflower of roadsides, fields, dunes and open woods in Florida.  It used to be called Gaura angustifolia, but a few years ago the evening primrose family underwent extensive revisions and G. angustifolia, was renamed Oenothera simulans along with several other species of that were included in the genus Gaura.
Southern Beeblossom has slender, branched, hairy stems that may reach six feet. The leaves are reduced on the upper parts of the plant and tiny flowers are found near the ends of wand-like stems. The flowers are white when they open in the evening.They become pinkish the following day before withering.As the name beeblossom indicates, the flowers are attractive to many insects, including bees, butterflies and moths. 

If you look very closely you can see six to eight long-stemm…

Wednesday’s Wildflower: Drumheads

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Polygala cruciata, Drumheads
Text, photos and poetry by Donna Bollenbach. Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society

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Some native flowers are greatly admired, but have yet to make it into our gardens. One is the showy Drumhead, Polygala cruciata. With a few exceptions, Drumheads are found throughout Florida. Like many members of the Polygalaceae or Milkwort family, they like moist, open habitats and are found in moist prairies, the edges of marshes, and wet  pinelands.


The Drumhead is an annual. It's conical pink to lavender flowers are arranged on elliptical heads. What most people refer to as the “flower” is a composite of pink, spiky sepals surrounding a tiny yellowish white flower.  As the flower fades, the sepals remain for several weeks, forming the "drumhead." While the nested sepals may give the impression of little crosses, the scientific name "cruciate" refers to the shape of the 4-angled stem. The short, linear leaves occur in whorls of 4 …

Methods to Remember: Concrete Steps for Teaching Conservation to Kids

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Submitted by Jackie Edwards, Guest Blogger

Now more than ever, environmental conservation is a hot button issue. Despite the fact that it may feel like an individual contribution to cleaning up the environment is insignificant, enough individuals can effectively become a collective. This means that our kids have also got to be taught how to conserve their environment and care for their local plantlife. For kids it may be difficult to understand environmental conservation and why it is so important, but with these simple steps you can make it fun, simple and engaging while they're interacting with your garden or the local flora.

Make Recycling a No-Brainer

Too many people still don’t recycle their waste on a daily basis. Although multi-national companies are steadily becoming more environmentally friendly with their products, some still dispose of their waste in an inappropriate way. From a young age encourage kids to differentiate between what can and cannot be recycled.

Educate Your …

Wednesday's Wildflower: Tickseed, Coreopsis spp.

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Tickseed, Coreopsis spp.
Submitted by Carol Mahler, Serenoa Chapter of Florida Native Plant Society


Although the orange blossom, Citra sinensis, was named our state flower in 1909, the legislature designated the genus Coreopsis as our state wildflower in 1991. According to the Netstate, the story began in 1963 as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) finished a project near Tallahassee that required sod. The sod field had previously been a pasture planted in red clover—a winter forage for cattle. When the clover blossomed in the new grass, people complimented FDOT for their “highway beautification.” That praise inspired FDOT to plant native wildflowers along Florida’s highways.

A partnership with the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs funded a research project at Florida Atlantic University. The results recommended many varieties of coreopsis, and the Federation lobbied for coreopsis to be designated as Florida’s state wildflower. The Florida Statutes, Title 4, Chapter 15, Se…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Withlacoochee Noddingcap

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WITHLACOOCHEE NODDINGCAPS Triphora craigheadii Luer Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society


The fragile, succulent stem of this native orchid averages 1"–2" tall with 1–4 broadly ovate, 3/8" leaves that are dark green above and purple below. 
Flowers are about 3/16" wide and last only 2 hours in the morning. Plants often produce 2 buds that open a week apart. What this means is that you need to be standing in front of plants in bud during June and July at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning and, if you’re lucky, a flower will open. A clue to a bud opening is it stands straight up the day before if opens. Otherwise the buds are nodding. If you miss it, you’ll have one more chance the following week. If you miss that chance, then you’ll have to wait another year.
It is endemic to mesic forests of Citrus, Sumter, Hernando, Highlands, and Collier Counties and can be regarded as one of the rarest wildflowers in th…

Wednesday's Wildflower: Coastal Groundcherry

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Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis augustifolia submitted by Carol Tebay, Longleaf Pine Chapter

I spent my first winter on the Intercoastal Waterway at Big Lagoon in Escambia County getting to know some of the plants in this scrub dune habitat.  I spotted one plant I couldn't identify. Then, in April, while searching the internet to identify some tracks I’d found in the sand, I came across a list of plants that beach mice depend on for food.  I’d recently spotted one of them, the Coastal Groundcherry, Physalis angustifolia (narrow-leaved).  In this harsh, coastal environment, where I tower over many mature runner oaks, Coastal Groundcherry hugs the ground. Just the right height for a tiny beach mouse.


According to the Atlas of Florida Plants, there are ten native species of Physalis growing in Florida.   While Coastal Groundcherry seems to prefer Gulf Coast counties, at least one species of Physalis can be found in most Florida counties.

Physalis are a member of the nightshade (Solan…

Short Plants in Sun: Natives for Urban Gardens

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Submitted by Richard Brownscombe Reprinted with permission from the April newsletter of the Broward County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society 
Plants under a foot high are very useful in the urban garden. You can avoid mulch if there are enough small plants to outcompete the weeds. Short native species may be the most interesting in a landscape because they are underutilized and seldom seen. All of the species below prefer full sun and are native to Broward County. Let's jump right into looking at a few species for drier soils and then a few more for average-moisture soils.
Sun/Drier Soils We have identified four species for places in your landscape of Sun and Drier Soils. Sun means at least 6 hours including the hot midday sun. All drought-tolerant plants need water, but have evolved ways to retain it or roots to reach for it. Generally, well-drained sandy soils are suitable for these scrub species. Give them deep watering until the roots take hold. Wilting leaves or mo…