5 Spooky Florida Wildflowers
From the sunflower that rejects the bright and shiny disposition to a ghostly wildflower that haunts the leaf litter on the forest floor, here’s 5 spooky Florida wildflowers that are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.
Alligatorflag (Thalia geniculata) occurs naturally in wetland depressions and cypress sloughs, and along the edges of marshes, swamps and wet ditches. It typically blooms summer through fall.
Alligatorlily (Hymenocallis palmeri) is a perennial wildflower endemic to cypress swamps, marshes, wet prairies, savannas and moist open flatwoods in Florida’s central and southern peninsula.
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a woody shrub found in pinelands and hammocks throughout Florida. The plant’s foliage offers cover for small wildlife. Its flowers are a nectar source for butterflies and bees, while its dense clusters of berries provide food for birds and deer in late summer and fall.
American bluehearts (Buchnera americana) is a perennial wildflower with bright violet to almost white blooms that attract bees and butterflies. Its tiny seed capsules are eaten by birds.
American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is an aquatic wildflower. Its fragrant, pale yellow flower is one of the largest blooms of any flowering plant in America.
American white waterlily
American white waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) is a floating aquatic plant. Its large, solitary, fragrant white flowers bloom spring through fall in swamps, marshes, slow-moving streams and shallow lakes, ponds and ditches. The flowers are attractive to butterflies, but they are pollinated primarily by beetles. The plant is also known as Fragrant waterlily.
There is little more whimsical than happening upon a fully blooming American witch-hazel on a late fall or early winter walk through the forest! This deciduous inhabitant of the understory is unusual in that when most other trees or shrubs are bearing fruit or seed, it is flowering. It can be found in mesic forests, hammocks and floodplains throughout eastern North America.
Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.) is an emergent aquatic wildflower that typically blooms spring through fall. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators. The fruits are eaten by birds and other wildlife.
Ashe’s calamint (Calamintha ashei) is a state-threatened shrub that typically blooms in spring but can bloom as early as January and as late as summer or early fall.
Axilflower (Mecardonia acuminata) is a common but often overlooked perennial wildflower found in moist open habitats. The plant rarely reaches a height of more than 6 inches and is frequently horizontal. It blooms spring through fall (sometimes year-round) and attracts mainly bees. Three subspecies occur in Florida.
Azure blue sage
Azure blue sage (Salvia azurea) occurs naturally in flatwoods and sandhills. Its striking cerulean flowers bloom August through November, attracting a variety of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds.
Baldwin’s eryngo (Eryngium baldwinii) has tiny flowers that are often overlooked. But it can form a large sprawling groundcover, providing a hazy, light blue understory to other wildflowers.
Baldwin’s milkwort (Polygala balduinii) is one of only a few white milkworts found in Florida. It blooms spring through fall and grows in wet pine flatwoods, marshes and coastal swales.
Bandanna-of-the-Everglades (Canna flaccida) is a larval host for the Brazilian skipper; dragonfly larvae have been known to hide in the leaves until they change into adults.
No one knows who Barbara is, but we can surely admire her buttons! Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia graminifolia) is a fragrant wildflower with showy blooms that have a tassled, button-like appearance.
Bartram’s rosegentian (Sabatia decandra) is a dazzling pink wildflower found in wet pinelands, freshwater marshes, pond margins and wet ditches. It blooms late spring into late summer or early fall.
Also known as Seaside bean, beach bean, coastal jackbean and Mackenzie bean, Bay bean (Canavalia rosea) is a sprawling, mat-forming vine. It occurs naturally in coastal strands and on dunes where it helps control erosion by stabilizing the sand. It blooms year-round, peaking in summer and fall. The flowers attract a variety of insects, but are primarily pollinated by bees.
Bay lobelia (Lobelia feayana) is a dainty endemic perennial commonly seen on moist roadsides. It typically blooms in January through early spring, but can bloom year-round.
Beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis) is an evergreen low-growing, mat-forming shrub found on dunes, beaches and coastal hammock edges throughout Central and South Florida.
Beach morning glory
Beach morning glory (Ipomoea imperati) typically blooms in summer and fall. Its striking whit flowers open in the morning and begin to wilt and close up by afternoon.
Beach peanut (Okenia hypogaea) is a creeping, vine-like plant that occurs naturally in coastal strands and on beach dunes where it is a pioneer species. It blooms spring through fall, peaking in summer. Although not endemic, it occurs in only four counties in South Florida and is a state-listed endangered species. Despite its common name, it is not related to the common peanut (Arachis hypogaea), which is a member of the Fabaceae (Legume) family.
No matter what you call it — Beggarticks, Spanish needle, monkey’s lice —Bidens alba is likely the most underappreciated of all Florida’s native wildflower.
Bird pepper (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) is a lovely native plant found primarily in coastal hammocks in South and Central Florida. The plant’s dainty flowers bloom year-round and attract mostly bees. As its name suggests, birds (especially mockingbirds) love its fruit, particularly before they ripen. The fruit is edible to humans, but be warned — it is hot!