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Friday, May 22, 2015

Flower Friday: Head to Florida's coastal counties to see marsh gentian in bloom!

Photo by Mary Keim (https://www.flickr.com/photos/38514062@N03/)
Marsh gentian (Eustoma exaltatum)

Marsh gentian (also known as seaside prairie-gentian or catchfly prairie-gentian) is an annual wildflower with showy purple to lavender (or sometimes white) flowers. They are 5-lobed, typically cup-shaped, have dark centers and are borne on long, erect stalks. Leaves are clasping, grayish-green and elliptical, and are oppositely arranged. 

Marsh gentian can produce flowers throughout the year and occurs naturally in salt marshes, dunes, and coastal flats.

The genus Eustoma comes from the Greek eu (beautiful) and stoma (mouth).

Family: Gentianaceae

Native range: Escambia county; coastal counties from Dixie south to Monroe and from Brevard south into the Keys.
Hardiness: Zones 8-11
Soil: Sandy and calcareous soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade

Growth habit: 1-3 feet tall
Garden tips: Marsh gentian is easily propagated by seed. It is salt-tolerant and does well in coastal areas.

Marsh gentian seeds are available from the Florida Wildflower Cooperative. Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.


To see where marsh gentian occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flower Friday: Florida's wetlands are festooned with lizard's tail blooms

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Lizard's tail (Saururus cernuus)
 
Lizard's tail is a perennial aquatic wildflower. Its tiny, white blooms are borne in abundance on long, "nodding" racemes, making for a distinctive and showy display. The flowers are also quite fragrant. Leaves are arrowhead- or heart-shaped, stalked and alternately arranged. They clasp the stems, which are hairy and reddish in color.

Lizard's tail flowers in early spring through summer and occurs naturally in shallow swamps and marshes, along ditches and drainage canals, and in wet forests.
It attracts a variety of pollinators and is also eaten by foraging ducks such as wood ducks.

Both the common and genus name refer to the flower's resemblance to a lizard's tail.


Family: Saururaceae (Lizard's tail family)
Native range: Throughout most of Florida
Hardiness: Zones 7-10
Soil: Rich, mild to acidic, saturated soils

Photo by Laurel Newman
Exposure: Full to partial shade
Growth habit: 2-4 feet tall
Garden tips: This plant is best suited for pond, drainage swale and wetland edges. It spreads by rhizomes and can form dense colonies.


Lizard's tail is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where lizard's tail occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Flower Friday: Sweet pinxter azaleas perfume the Panhandle!

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Sweet pinxter azalea (Rhododendron canescens)
Sweet pinxter azalea (also known as mountain azalea) is a deciduous flowering shrub. Its showy pinkish- to rose-colored flowers are trumpet-shaped with noticeably protruding stamens and pistils. They are borne around the same time that the first leaves appear and are particularly fragrant. Leaves are obovate, hairy and alternately arranged.

Sweet pinxter azalea blooms in spring and occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, mesic hammocks, bay swamps, and
floodplain and slope forests. It attracts a number of pollinators, including hummingbirds.

Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)
Native range: Panhandle, Northern peninsula
Hardiness: Zones 7-9b
Soil: Rich, acidic soils
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Growth habit: up to 15 feet tall
Garden tips: Sweet pinxter azalea works well as a specimen plant, in a mass planting or naturalistic landscape, and in containers. Young plants may appear straggly but will fill in and spread out as they mature. They are propagated by seed and division.
 

Sweet pinxter azalea plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where sweet pinxter azalea occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flower Friday: Here's one beard that doesn't need a razor!

Manyflower beardtongue (Penstemon multiflorus)

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Manyflower beardtongue (also known as white beardtongue) is a deciduous perennial wildflower. Its showy white flowers are five-lobed, two-lipped and tube-shaped. They are borne on erect stems that are reddish in color and rise from a basal rosette of large, grayish-green leaves. Stem leaves are sessile and oppositely arranged. It was once considered a member of the Antirrhunum (snapdragon) family, but genetic studies have led to its inclusion (along with the Antirrhunum family) into the enlarged Plantaginaceae (plantain) family.

Manyflower beardtongue blooms late spring through early summer and occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills and ruderal areas. It attracts a number of pollinators and is the host plant for the
Baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton).
 
Photo by Walter Taylor
The common name "beardtongue" refers to the tendency of blooms within the Penstemon genus to have a long, often hairy filament that protrudes from the mouth of the corolla, giving the appearance of a fuzzy tongue.

Family: Plantaginaceae (Plaintain family)
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
Hardiness: Zones 8-10
Soil: Well-drained soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 3-4+ feet tall
Garden tips: Manyflower beardtongue works well in wild or naturalistic settings as well more formal gardens. It can be propagated from cuttings and seeds, and also spreads on it own by reseeding and by producing "pups" from the main rosette.

Manyflower beardtongue seeds are available from the Florida Wildflower Cooperative.
Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where manyflower beardtongue occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2353.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flower Friday: See parrot pitcherplants along pandhandle roadsides

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Parrot pitcherplant (Sarracenia psittacina)

Parrot pitcherplant is a carnivorous perennial plant. Its leaves are tubular with curved lids or hoods, and form the "pitcher" part of the plant. They typically lie nearly flat on the ground in a prostrate rosette. The pitcher mouth is small, hooded and adorned with window-like features that help attract prey. The pitcher is tubular, horizontal and is lined with many criss-crossed hairs. Parrot pitcherplant flowers are red, solitary and nodding.

Parrot pitcherplant is dissimilar to most pitcherplants in both its shape and the way it traps insects. Its trapping mechanism is considered a "lobster pot" while most pitcherplants have a "pitfall" trap. 

Parrot pitcherplant typically flowers in April and May. It occurs naturally in seepage slopes, wet prairies, depression marshes, dome swamps, and bogs.

Photo by Walter Taylor
Parrot pitcherplant is a state listed threatened species. Its species name psittacine means "of or relating to parrots" and refers to the shape of the flower resembling the head of a parrot.

Family: Sarraceniaceae (Pitcherplant family)
Native range: Central to western Panhandle, Baker and Nassau counties
Hardiness: Zones 7-8a
Soil: Inundated to saturated soils; can also grow in semi-aquatic (periodically flooded) habitats
Exposure: Full sun
Garden tips: Parrot pitcherplants do best in their natural habitat, but they can be propagated by division (most successfully in spring) and by seed, although seeds must be cold stratified prior to planting. Seeds tend to do better in sphagnum or peat.

To see where parrot pitcherplant occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2027.