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.