Friday, September 25, 2015

Flower Friday: Give a standing ovation to standing cypress' stunning beauty.

Standing cypress is part of a planting installed by FDOT
at the Okahumpa Service Plaza on Florida's Turnpike.
Photo courtesy of FDOT.
Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra)

Standing cypress is a brilliant, biennial herbaceous wildflower. Its inflorescence is a dense, elongated, terminal spike of long, bright red, tubular flowers. Stems are pubescent. Leaves are fern- or needle-like, sessile and alternately arranged. Standing cypress begins as a basal rosette of fern-like foliage. In its second year, it will send up an erect, leafy stem that looks a bit like dog fennel until it blooms into a spectacular spray of scarlet. 

Standing cypress blooms summer through fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, coastal strands, beach dunes and ruderal areas. It is very attractive to butterflies as well as other pollinators.

Standing cypress' needle-like leaves.
Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Contrary to what its common name might suggest, standing cypress is not related in any way to the cypress tree (Taxodium sp.) It might, however, refer to the plant's leaves which vaguely resemble cypress needles (see photo, right). Other common names are Spanish larkspur, Texas plume and skyrocket.

Family: Polemoniaceae (Phlox family)
Native range: North and central peninsula; Escambia, Jackson and Leon Counties
Hardiness: Zones 8–9b
Soil: Well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 3'+ tall

Propagation: Seeds 
Garden tips: Standing cypress is a great landscape addition if you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It is very sensitive, however, and is susceptible to root rot if its soil doesn't drain to its needs. It is a moderate self-seeder.
Standing cypress and softhair coneflower (Rudbeckia mollis) along the Meadow Trail
at P.E.A.R. Park in Lake County. Photo by Peg Urban.
Standing cypress seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers 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 standing cypress occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

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