Feay's palafox (Palafoxia feayi)
Feay's palafox is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida's central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray flowers; and its disc flowers are tubular. They are white to pinkish in color. Most noticeable are the dark purple- to maroon-colored stigmas and the curved, white styles that extend from the ends of each disc flower. At the base of each flower are bracts that vary in color from green to purple. Leaves are oppositely arranged, oval-shaped toward the base, and get smaller and more linear toward the top of the plant. The leaf surface is rough to the touch.
Feay's palafox occurs naturally in sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, and scrub. It is attractive to a variety of butterflies and bees.
Hardiness: Central and South Florida (Zones 9-11)
Soil: Well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 4–6+ feet tall
Garden tips: Feay's palafox is not suited for the small garden. Its tendency to grow tall and lanky makes it best suited for larger plantings with other tall-growing genera such as Silphium, Liatris, and Andropogon. It is easily propagated from seed, although seed is not readily available.
Feay's palafox is sometimes available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area.
To see where Feay's palafox occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1272.
Photos by Stacey Matrazzo