Friday, August 28, 2015

Flower Friday: Look for camphorweed along roadsides and coastal dunes

Photo by Alan Cressler
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris

Camphorweed is an aromatic, annual to biennial herbaceous shrub. Its copious blooms consist of bright yellow ray flowers and vivid yellow to orange disk flowers. Leaves are elliptic to lanceolate and alternately arranged with toothed margins. Leaves and stems are covered in bristly hairs (see photo below) and are sticky to the touch.

Camphorweed typically blooms in summer and fall, although in certain conditions it may bloom year-round. In spring, it appears as a basal rosette of rough, almost sagittate leaves from which the flower stalk emerges. It occurs naturally on coastal dunes and grasslands, in scrubs, pinelands and ruderal areas. It is attractive to many bees and butterflies. 

As the common name suggests, camphorweed has a camphor-like aroma (or odor, as some might suggest), particularly when the leaves are disturbed.

Photo by Walter Taylor
: Asteraceae (Aster or daisy family)
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
Hardiness: Zones 7–10
Soil: Dry, well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: up to 3'+ tall with 10-20'+ spread
Propagation: Seeds
Garden tips: Camphorweed is often overlooked as a desirable landscape plant, as it can become weedy in appearance and habit. It is, however, incredibly tolerant of varied and harsh conditions. It can be propagated by seeds, which should be collected when the flower heads appear brown and "fuzzy" (see photo below). It readily self-sows.

Camphorweed seeds are available from the Florida Wildflower Cooperative.

To see where camphorweed occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3339.

Left: Pubescent stems and leaves. Photo by Joseph Marcus, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Right: "Fuzzy" seed heads. Photo by Thomas Muller, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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