Spring and fall wildflowers can be spectacular with a plethora of yellow and purple flowers, but summer seems to offer a wider diversity of colorful, showy wildflowers along roadsides.
Fall color hard to find in Florida? Not if you travel along rural roads. Now is the time to be looking for wildflowers throughout the state. Fall wildflowers are in full bloom, with the best places to find them being open areas without homes or businesses. Those areas, including woodland edges, provide the bright light that many species of native wildflowers thrive in. And rural areas are better than urban environments for two reasons – more natural stands of wildflowers, and expectations for manicured landscapes are lower.
Pictured above: Elliott’s aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii). Photo by Ron & Diane Bynum Northern neighbors have their leaves, but we have a rainbow of wildflowersby Jeff Norcini In cooler climates, fall is when “leaf peepers” hit the road to view red-, yellow- and orange-leaved trees. Here in Florida, fall color means wildflowers. And when you hit…
Do you enjoy juicy watermelons, local blueberries and strawberries and fresh Florida orange juice? How about carrots, broccoli, almonds and apples? If you do, please thank an insect. Learn more about our pollinators — especially native bees — and why they are so important.
There’s a good chance that if you’ve been to any Florida Wildflower Foundation events, you may have run into this member. Most recently, he could be found with 25 other wildflower enthusiasts at the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, soaking up some plant identification and lore on a walk led by author and FWF board member Dr. Walter K. Taylor.
FWF member Chris Waltz is known to many in native plant circles because of the supporting role he plays in conferences and other events. Here is what Chris has to say about his involvement with the Florida Wildflower Foundation.
‘Tis the season for seed collecting. As you return to the garden after the last two months of unbearable heat, biting bugs and sweat, you’ll probably encounter a lot of overgrown stems. Cut those back to their base to freshen up the plant for winter. Trailing species, such as beach sunflower and Gaillardia, can also be whacked into submission and will probably bloom again by late November.
Pictured above: Palamedes swallowtail on Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata). Photo by Jeff Norcini Pollinators and the native plants that support them have come to the forefront this year. The showiest of the pollinators are the butterflies, which often are seen flitting around native wildflowers. While large butterflies like swallowtails (such as the one pictured above…
Dr. Loran Anderson is a professor emeritus in the department of biological science at Florida State University in Tallahassee. His research has focused on plant taxonomy and systematics in the Florida Panhandle and elsewhere. He is currently compiling a checklist of native plants in Panhandle counties that will include rare and endangered species. In 2016, he received the Foundation’s Coreopsis Award in recognition of contribution to Florida’s wildflowers.
Bumble bees are very efficient pollinators because they “buzz pollinate.” The bee grabs onto a flower and vibrates its flight muscles but not its wings. This causes the flower to release its pollen. It also creates an audible buzz at the frequency of a middle C note. The genus name Bombus comes from the Greek bombos, which means “buzzing sound.”
The Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) is gentle and solitary, preferring flight over fight. These wasps can be seen nectaring from wildflowers in the summer months.
The Great purple hairstreak is a relatively large butterfly that can often be found in oak hammocks, home to their larval host Oak mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum). Oddly, Great purple hairstreaks can be identified by the iridescent blue, not purple, on the upper side of their wings.
Late summer rains across most of Florida were enough to promote showy displays of native wildflowers and grasses this fall. Above-normal temperatures and normal rain are forecast for fall, which may result in earlier flowering of some native wildflowers and grasses.