Florida scrub roseling

Pictured above: Florida scrub roseling (Callisia ornata) by Mary Keim. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.

Florida scrub roseling (Callisia ornata)is a beautiful and delicate wildflower endemic to Florida, where it occurs in sandhill and scrub habitats. It typically blooms spring through fall and attracts a variety of pollinators — especially bees. A member of the dayflower family, the plant is a close relative of (and its blooms look very similar to) Tradescantia and Commelina species. And like these species, the Florida scrub roseling flower is ephemeral, meaning it opens in the morning and closes by early afternoon.

Flowers have three pink to pinkish-white petals with scalloped margins. Six stamens are present, each with a bright yellow anther and “bearded” filament. Leaves are long, thin and grasslike with entire margins. They are alternately arranged and form a sheath at the base of the stemSeeds are born in small, globular capsules.

The genus name Callisia is derived from the Greek word kallos, meaning “beauty.”  Although the flowers are quite lovely, it is the leaves of Callisia repens, a non-native species with interesting foliage, for which this genus is named. The species epithet ornata is from the Latin ornatus, meaning “decorated” or “beautiful” and refers to the elegant flowers. Callisia ornata is formerly known as Cuthbertia ornata.

Family: Commelinaceae (Dayflower or spiderwort family)
Native range: Central and southern peninsular Florida (excluding Monroe and Miami-Dade counties), as well as Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla counties in the Panhandle
To see where natural populations of Florida scrub roseling have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Lifespan: Annual to short-lived perennial
: Zones 8B–10A
Soil: Dy, well-drained, sandy soil
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 6–12″+ tall
Propagation: Division, seed
Garden tips: Florida scrub roseling may be difficult to establish and maintain in a landscape setting, particularly because it generally performs as an annual. It is, however, a prolific self-seeder and will repopulate in open, sandy areas.

Plants are occasionally available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealfForida.org to find a nursery near you.