Friday, January 20, 2017

Flower Friday: Ashe's calamint

Ashe’s calamint (Calamintha ashei)


Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Photo by Alan Cressler, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Also known as Ashe’s savory, Ashe’s calamint is a state-threatened, perennial deciduous shrub. Its many tubular-shaped flowers are pale lavender; each has a white patch and dark purple dots. Petals and sepals are two-lipped. Leaves are narrow, with revolute margins and a bluish- to grayish-green hue. They are oppositely arranged. When crushed, the leaves emit a strong basil-like aroma. Fruit is a nutlet.

Ashe’s calamint typically blooms in spring but can bloom from January into late summer or early fall. It occurs naturally in scrub and sandhills and is attractive to insects, specifically bees, which are its primary pollinator. The plant is allelopathic, which means it emits a chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants.

The plant’s common name and species epithet refer to William Willard Ashe (1872-1932), a botanist and forester who published over 500 plant names.

Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)

Native range: Central peninsula

To see where natural populations of Ashe’s calamint have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

Hardiness: Zone 8-9

Soil:  Very dry, well-drained, acidic sandy soils

Exposure:  Full sun to partial shade

Growth habit: 1.5’ tall and wide

Propagation: Seed, cuttings

Garden tips: Ashe’s calamint is most suitable for a scrub or sandhill restoration or naturalistic landscape, although it can make a nice addition to a dry wildflower garden.

Note: This is a threatened species in Florida. Make sure you obtain plants from a trusted native plant nursery. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flower Friday: Coastal searocket

Coastal searocket (Cakile lanceolata)
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Photo by Bob Peterson
Coastal searocket is a fast-growing annual or short-lived perennial wildflower. Its charming little flowers have four white to lavender petals and bright yellow anthers. Leaves are lance-shaped and fleshy with toothed or dissected margins. They are alternately arranged. Stems are decumbent. Fruits are rocket-shaped pods that bear two seeds: one seed remains attached to the parent plant, while the other falls off, to be dispersed by water or wind.

Coastal searocket typically blooms early spring through summer, but may bloom year-round. It occurs naturally in beach dunes and coastal strands and attracts bees and butterflies, including the great southern white, for which it is a larval host plant.

"Rocket"-shaped fruit. Photo by Wayne Matchett
The stems and leaves are edible and may be eaten raw or cooked.  The taste has been compared to turnip, but may also be peppery or mustard-like. Boiled leaves also can be used to clean wounds.

Family: Brassicaceae (Crucifer, mustard or cabbage family)
Native range: Most coastal counties and the Keys
To see where natural populations of coastal searocket  have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8a-11
Soil: Very dry, well-drained sandy or loamy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Coastal searocket leaves. Photo by Wayne Matchett
Growth habit: up to 2’ tall
Propagation: Seed, cuttings
Garden tips: Coastal searocket is salt and drought tolerant as well as wind resistant. It is best suited for dune stabilization.

Coastal searocket plants are often available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Flower Friday: Pineland daisy

Pineland daisy (Chaptalia tomentosa)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Pineland daisy bud, nodding "bonnet" and open bloom. Photos by Mary Keim (left, right) and Eleanor Dietrich (center).
Pineland daisy is a perennial wildflower native to moist flatwoods, bogs and freshwater marsh edges. Its attractive solitary flower begins as a purplish-pink bud that opens into a wheel of whitish-yellow disk florets and white ray florets (although a tinge of purple may be noticeable). Flowerheads are closed and nodding until midday, when they become erect and open. Leaves are elliptic and appear in basal rosettes. They have entire or slightly toothed margins, dark green uppers and densely tomentose undersides.  Stems are generally leafless, and are also tomentose. Seeds are born in achenes.

Pineland daisy typically blooms in early winter through summer. It is also known as woolly sunbonnet. The species epithet tomentosa and the “woolly” reference are derived from the tomentose leaves and stem. “Sunbonnets” alludes to the initial droop of the flowerhead, which resembles a bonnet.

Family: Asteraceae (Aster, daisy or composite family)
Native range: Nearly throughout
To see where natural populations of pineland daisy have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu
Hardiness: Zone 7-10
Soil:  Moist to wet sandy soils
Exposure: Full or filtered sun to minimal shade
Growth habit:  up to 12” tall
Propagation: Seeds, division
Garden tips: Pineland daisy is not commercially grown. It is best appreciated in its natural habitat.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Flower Friday: Sida

Sida ulmifolia. Photo by Grace Howell.
Fanpetals (Sida spp.)
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Fanpetals are a genus of annual and perennial wildflowers. Of the 11 species of Sida that have been vouchered in Florida, only five are native. The most common native species are common fanpetals (Sida ulmifolia) and Cuban jute (Sida rhombifolia). Flowers are usually five-petaled and pale yellow to deep yellowish-orange. Petals are often notched or lobed and may be reddish-orange at the base, particularly in S. rhombifolia. Sepals are hairy and also occur in fives. Leaves are either unlobed with serrated margins or lobed. Fruits are disc-shaped schizocarps, divided into sections that each section contain one seed. Stems may be herbaceous or woody.

Fanpetals can bloom year-round and are attractive to butterflies and moths. They occur in dry uplands as well as ruderal and disturbed areas.

Fanpetals are in the same family as hibiscus, okra, cacao and cotton.

Sida rhombifolia. Photo by Eleanor Dietrich.
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Native range: S. ulmifolia occurs throughout the peninsula and in a few Panhandle counties. S. rhombifolia is found throughout most of the state.
To see where natural populations of all Sida species have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8a-10b
Soil: Dry, well-drained sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 3’+
Propagation: Seed
Garden tips: Fanpetals are best for naturalistic landscapes and restoration sites as they can be weedy. They are drought- but not salt-tolerant.

Sida plants are often available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Flower Friday: Paintedleaf

Photo by Christina Evans
Paintedleaf (Poinsettia cyathophora)

Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Paintedleaf is an erect annual to short-lived perennial. Its tiny flowers are greenish-yellow and produce large, three-lobed green ovaries. Flowers are born in terminal clusters at the top of the stem and grouped in a cyathia, which forms a cuplike structure. Nectar glands occur at the base inside the structure. Surrounding the flowers are conspicuous leafy bracts with distinctively red bases, giving the plant its common name. Leaves are petiolate, can vary in shape from linear to oblong to fiddlelike, and may be lobed and/or toothed. They are alternately arranged. The stem is thin but sturdy. It is smooth and green, and contains a milky sap (an indicator of the Euphorbiaceae family). Seeds are oval, brownish-black, and born in sets of threes.

Paintedleaf occurs naturally on roadsides and in pinelands, hammocks and other disturbed areas. It can flower throughout the year, although in may be winter-dormant in northern Florida. Its tiny flowers attract butterflies and bees. The seeds are a favorite of mourning doves.

Paintedleaf also is known by the scientific name Euphorbia cyathophora. The genus Euphorbia (as well as the family name Euphorbiaceae) refers to the Greek physician Euphorbus, who discovered many medicinal properties of plants in this genus. Other common names include Florida poinsettia, wild poinsettia, dwarf poinsettia and fire-on-the-mountain. It is related to the common “Christmas” poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), which is indigenous to Mexico and bears larger, more striking red bracts.

Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Native range: Throughout peninsular Florida and much of the Panhandle (particularly the western-most counties)
Click here to see where paintedleaf occurs naturally.
Hardiness: Zones 8a-11
Soil: Moist to dry, well-drained sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 1-2+’ tall
Propagation: Self-seeding (seeds are difficult to start)
Garden tips: Paintedleaf’s interesting foliage provides a nice accent to a wildflower garden or native plant landscape, but it can be very aggressive as it readily self-seeds.

CAUTION: The milky sap is toxic and can irritate the skin.