Skyflower, Hydrolea corymbosa

Bloom Report: For sizzling summer wildflowers, head to the wetlands

Pictured above: Skyflower (Hydrolea corymbosa). Photo by Mary Keim

Many areas are very dry now, especially in Central and South Florida. When traveling in West Central Florida in mid-May, I saw very few wildflowers blooming, even in normally moist areas, many of which had dried up. The good news is that the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting that drought conditions should be alleviated by the end of August in all but east Central Florida, and even in that part of the state drought conditions should improve.

What does that mean for wildflower viewing this summer? Go to rural areas where the soil is likely to be moist even in a drought, especially adjacent to and within pine forests managed with burning.

Wildflowers to look for in moist/wet areas:

  • Scarlet rosemallow (Hibiscus coccineus) — large, scarlet; statewide
  • Skyflower (Hydrolea corymbosa) — cobalt blue; eastern Panhandle, North Central South (pictured above)
  • Virginia saltmarsh mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos) — pink; statewide
  • Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) — purple; statewide (pictured below)
  • Meadowbeauty (Rhexia spp.) — most species are pink; statewide
  • Grassleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia graminifolia) — dark red; Panhandle (endemic) (pictured below)
  • Mohr’s coneflower (Rudbeckia mohrii) — yellow; Panhandle
  • Rosegentian (Sabatia spp.) — pinkish-purple or white; statewide
Pickerelweed blooming along roadside
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)along Volusia County roadside.
Photo byJeff Norcini
Grassleaf coneflower bloom
Grassleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia graminifolia) by Eleanor Dietrich

If you are headed for the beach, look for:

  • Blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella) — red and yellow; statewide
  • Dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) — yellow; statewide
  • Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis) — pinkish-purple; statewide

And for orchid enthusiasts, South Florida is the place to be.

Big Cypress National Preserve

  • Ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) — white; also in Fakahatchee Swamp
  • Butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis) — reddish-orange
  • Night-scented orchid (Epidendrum nocturnum) — white
  • Snowy orchid (Platanthera nivea) — white

Everglades National Park

  • Night-scented orchid (Epidendrum nocturnum) — white
  • Michaux’s orchid (Habenaria quinqueseta) — white
  • Florida dancing lady orchid (Oncidium ensatum) — yellow
  • Dollar orchid (Prosthechea boothiana) — greenish with purplish blotches

Dr. Jeff Norcini has a consulting business, OecoHort, LLC, and is FDOT’s wildflower specialist, Tallahassee. Thanks to Claudia Larsen, Bob Farley and Roger Hammer for their wildflower viewing suggestions.