Pictured above: Bandanna-of-the-Everglades (Canna flaccida) by z7nikon (CC BY-NC). Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.
Also known as Golden canna or Yellow canna, Bandanna-of-the-Everglades (Canna flaccida) is a robust aquatic wildflower with large, showy orchid-like blooms. It occurs naturally in freshwater marshes and swamps, and along pond and lake margins throughout much of Florida. It is a larval host for the Brazilian skipper; dragonfly larvae have been known to hide in the leaves until they change into adults. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flower’s nectar.
Bandanna-of-the-Everglades flowers are composed of three bright yellow petals and three greenish-yellow sepals that are fused at the base, forming a tube-like structure. Petal lips are broad and drooping. Each flower is subtended by a single bract. Flowers are born in terminal clusters. They are short-lived, opening in late evening and closing by midday. Leaves are long, smooth and broadly lanceolate with entire margins and pointed tips. They are alternately arranged and spiral around the smooth, fleshy stem. Fruits are long (2–3 inches) capsules with rough surfaces. They contain many small, black pellet-like seeds.
Family: Cannaceae (Canna family)
Native range: Peninsular Florida, few Panhandle counties
To see where natural populations of Bandanna-of-the-Everglades have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8A–11
Soil: Moist to inundated sandy, loamy or clay soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 3–5’ tall
Propagation: Division, seed (must be scarified)
Garden tips: Bandanna-of-the-Everglades has a robust tuberous rhizome that helps the plant to survive tough conditions such as drought or freezing temperatures. As such, the plant tends to spread quickly by suckering. It is best suited for naturalistic or restoration wetlands but can be used in a rain garden if care is taken to constrain its spread.
Bandanna-of-the-Everglades is available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.PlantRealFlorida.org to find a nursery in your area. Seeds are also available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative at www.FloridaWildflowers.com.