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Friday, September 16, 2016

Flower Friday: These fragrant beauties push all the right buttons!

Grassleaf Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia graminifolia)

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Grassleaf Barbara’s buttons is a short-lived perennial wildflower. Its fragrant, showy blooms have a tassled, button-like appearance. Disk florets are whitish-pink to pale lavender and are abundantly arranged in a concentric circle; ray florets are absent. The solitary flowers are borne on erect stems that emerge in spring from a whorl of long, oblanceolate basal leaves. Stem leaves are linear, sessile and smaller than the basal leaves.

Grassleaf Barbara’s buttons occurs naturally in mesic to wet flatwoods, bogs, seepage slopes, wet prairies and savannas. It typically blooms summer through fall and attracts pollinators such as butterflies, bees and beetles.

All species in the genus Marshallia are commonly referred to as Barbara’s buttons, although the identity of the Barbara to which the name refers is unknown. The name first appears in botanist John Kunkel Small’s 1933 book, Flora of the Southeastern United States. Marhsallia honors Moses Marshall, a renowned botanist and cousin of John and William Bartram. The species epithet, graminifolia, refers to the plant’s grasslike leaves (hence the use of “grassleaf” in its common name).

Family: Asteraceae (Daisy or composite family)
Native range: Panhandle; northeast Florida; Central and East Florida to Palm Beach County; Pinellas County
To see where natural populations of grassleaf Barbara’s buttons have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 7-10
Soil: Moist to wet organic soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 2’+ tall
Garden tips: Grassleaf Barbara’s buttons would make a nice addition to a moist mixed wildflower garden.

Grassfleaf Barbara’s buttons may occasionally be available from nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Flower Friday: Nothing clouds the beauty of blue skyflower

Skyflower (Hydrolea corymbosa)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Skyflower is a herbaceous perennial wildflower that goes largely unnoticed — that is, until its bright and beautiful blooms appear. Borne in terminal or axillary corymbs (hence the species name corymbosa), the brilliant blue to purple flowers have a five-parted corolla. Filaments are long, extending well beyond the flower; anthers are covered with bright pinkish-orange pollen. The style is also elongated. Sepals are densely ciliate and appear fuzzy on unopened buds. Upper stems can be hairy; lower stems are smooth. Leaves are sessile and elliptic to lanceolate with serrated margins. They are alternately arranged. Fruit is an inconspicuous, oval-shaped capsule.

Skyflower blooms tend to open in the morning and fade toward the end of the day. Plants occur naturally in freshwater marshes, swamps, ponds, ditches, and wet pine flatwoods. It typically blooms summer into late fall. Flowers don't produce much nectar, so butterflies are infrequent visitors. They attract mostly bees, which are necessary for the plant’s self-pollination.

Family: Hydroleaceae (False fiddleleaf family)
Native range: Peninsula and Eastern Panhandle
To see where natural populations of skyflower have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8b-10
Soil: Wet to moist organic soils (can tolerate seasonal inundation)
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: Up to 2’ tall
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division
Garden tips: Skyflower, when it is commercially available, makes a nice addition to a moist to wet landscape. It will slowly spread via suckering. In cool weather, skyflower dies back to the ground. New shoots will emerge from underground rhizomes in early spring. It is not drought- or salt-tolerant.

Skyflower plants may occasionally be available from nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org/ to find a nursery in your area.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Flower Friday: Catesby's lily is pure summer elegance

Photo by Mary Keim.
Catesby's lily (Lilium catesbaei)

Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Also known as pine lily, leopard lily, tiger lily or southern-red lily, Catesby's lily is a long-lived perennial wildflower. Its large, showy flowers have six conspicuous tepals that are bright reddish-orange and reflexed. At their inner base, the tepals are yellow with purple spots. Stamen are also conspicuous, with tall yellow filaments extending above the tepals and topped by orange or yellow anthers. Flowers are singular and terminal, born atop an erect stem that emerges from a basal rosette of linear leaves. Stem leaves are small and few if not absent. The fruit is an inconspicuous capsule that splits when ripe, releasing many small, papery seeds, which the wind carries away.

Catesby's lily occurs in mesic to wet flatwoods, wet prairies and savannas. It is very sensitive to growing conditions, and thrives in conditions generally inhospitable to other lilies. It responds well to fire. Catesby's lily typically blooms summer to late fall, attracting a variety of pollinators, but primarily pollinated by swallowtail butterflies.

Catesby's lily bears the largest flower of any North American lily. In Florida, it is a state-listed threatened species.

Family: Liliaceae (Lily family)
Native range: Throughout much of Florida
To see where natural populations of Catesby's lily have been vouchered, visit http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3148.
Hardiness: Zones 8a-10b
Soil: Moist to wet, well-drained acidic sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 2-3’+ tall
Propagation: Seed, division
Garden tips: Catesby's lily is rarely available commercially. If you are lucky enough to have it on your property, you may be able to collect seeds or divide bulblets; however, this plant is not easy to propagate. It is not salt-, drought- or flood-tolerant.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Flower Friday: With sandbog deathcamas, it's all in the name!

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Sandbog deathcamas (Zigadenus glaberrimus)

Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Sandbog deathcamas is short-lived perennial wildflower. Its many star-shaped flowers are born in loose panicles atop multi-branched stems. Flowers are cream-colored and appear waxy. They have six conspicuous stamens and six tepals. Each tepal has two greenish-gold glands at its inner base. The flower center and tepal tips may be pinkish. Basal leaves form in the spring and are linear and grasslike. Stem leaves are reduced and alternate. Stems are glabrous and may have a reddish hue. Seeds are born in cone-shaped capsules. The flower remains attached to the capsule.

Sandbog deathcamas occurs naturally in wet pine flatwoods, seepage slopes and wet prairies. It blooms summer through fall and attracts bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

The genus Zingadenus once contained 20 species; all but Zingadenus glaberrimus have been reclassified to other genera. All were previously considered members of the Liliaceae (lily) family. The common name “deathcamas” alludes to the similarity in appearance to plants in the camas or Camassia genus, which are edible and often occur in the same habitat. However,  Zingadenus glaberrimus is poisonous.

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Family: Melanthiaceae
Native range: Panhandle west of Jefferson County
To see where natural populations of sandbog deathcamas have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3186.
Hardiness: Zone 8
Soil: Wet to moderately dry, acidic soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 3-4’+ tall
Propagation: Seed, division                 
Garden tips: Sandbog deathcamas is not commercially available. It is best enjoyed in the wild, where it grows in large stands and makes quite a visual impact.

Caution: Zigadenus glaberrimus is poisonous to livestock and humans if consumed.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Flower Friday: Don't forget pineland heliotrope for year-round blooms!

Pineland heliotrope (Euploca polyphylla)
Photo by Alan Cressler
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Pineland heliotrope is a perennial herbaceous wildflower. Its many small flowers may be yellow or white and are born on distinctly curved spikes. The yellow-flowered form tends to be erect and upright, while the white-flowered form has a more prostrate and creeping habit. Stems are pubescent. Leaves are small (<3/4"), sessile and needlelike with a smooth upper surface and densely pubescent underside. They are alternately arranged. The fruit is a small schizocarp.

Pineland heliotrope is endemic to Florida. It occurs naturally in pine rocklands, wet prairies, coastal thickets and ruderal areas. It typically blooms throughout the year, but in North Florida, it may bloom only in fall. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, especially small butterflies.

This plant was recently reclassified as Euploca polyphylla, although many sources still refer to its original name, Heliotropium polyphyllum. The yellow and white flower forms were once separated into two genera: H. polyphyllum (white) and H. leavenworthii (yellow).

The common name "heliotrope" (as well as the original genus name Heliotropium) comes from the Greek helios, or "sun," and trepein, or "to turn." It refers to the belief that the plants turn their flowers toward the sun.

Family: Boraginaceae (Borage or forget-me-not family)
Native range: Peninsula south into the Keys and Escambia County
To see where natural populations of pineland heliotrope have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8a-11
Soil: Moist to moderately dry sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 6-12" tall
Propagation: Cuttings, seeds (seeds are difficult to germinate)
Garden tips: Pineland heliotrope is adaptable to many growing conditions, making it an excellent addition to butterfly and wildflower gardens, as well as in the home landscape. It suckers and can form large patches if allowed. It is drought tolerant and can grow in nutrient-poor soils. It is not particularly salt tolerant.

Pineland heliotrope is often available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a grower in your area.