Pictured above: Sixangle foldwing (Dicliptera sexangularis) taken at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. Photo by Alan Cressler, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF
Also known as False mint, Sixangle foldwing is modest yet eye-catching wildflower found in coastal hammocks and strands, ruderal areas and mangrove swamps, and along salt marsh edges. It typically flowers spring through early fall, but may bloom year-round. Its bright red blooms are particularly attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. The plant is a larval host for the Cuban crescent butterfly.
Sixangle foldwing’s flowers are tubular, curved and two-lipped. Two stamens with yellow anthers extend just beyond the upper lip. Most blooms are somewhat compressed. They are born in terminal or axillary spikes. Leaves are ovate to lanceolate with entire margins. Leaf arrangement is opposite. Stems are six-angled and multi-branched. Seeds are born in small green capsules that turn brown as they mature.
The genus name Dicliptera is from the Greek meaning “double-folding wings.” The species epithet sexangularis and its common descriptor reference the plant’s six-angled stems. The common name False mint refers to the flower’s similarity to flowers in the Mint (Lamiaceae) family, especially Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea).
Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)
Native range: Central and southern peninsula (primarily coastal counties), the Keys and Calhoun County
To see where natural populations of Sixangle foldwing have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8–11
Soil: Moist, well-drained sandy or calcareous soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 1–4’ tall
Propagation: Seed, cuttings
Garden tips: Sixangle foldwing is easy to grow and can tolerate a variety of conditions, including moderate exposure to salt. However, if plants do not receive enough moisture, particularly when located in full sun, flowers will be small and leaves will turn yellowish. This plant is a prolific self-seeder and will readily populate moist open areas. It can become weedy if not maintained.
Sixangle foldwing plants are occasionally available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.PlantRealFlorida.org to find a nursery in your area.