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Tuberous grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus) is a showy terrestrial orchid that blooms across Florida each spring. Of the four Calopogon species found in Florida, this one has the widest range, reaching across the eastern US into Canada, west to Texas, and south into the Caribbean.
Chapman’s butterwort is an insectivorous wildflower that blooms from January through April. It occurs in wet habitats from bogs, cypress domes, depressions in wet flatwoods and prairies to roadside ditches. Listed as state-threatened, it is susceptible to drought conditions, drainage, habitat loss and illegal collection.
It takes a keen observer to spot Spring coralroot (Corallorhiza wisteriana), a small terrestrial orchid whose colors provide expert camouflage against the leaf litter of the deciduous trees under which it grows.
For only a few months of very early spring, Dimpled troutlilies can be found blanketing the ground of sloped deciduous forests throughout the southeastern US. Listed as state-endangered, Florida’s populations are rare and limited to three counties in the Panhandle.
Some of our most unique and unusual wildflowers grow in the shade of floodplain and deciduous forests, including the intriguing Jack-in-the-pulpit.
Feay’s palafox (Palafoxia feayi) is a very unique wildflower, endemic to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. It is a member of the Aster family, but bears few visual similarities.
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is an evergreen vine that creates cascades of brilliant yellow as it grows up into trees and trails off branches.
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.
Diminutive in size but not in beauty, White screwstem takes a keen eye and a bit of determination to find. It blooms in winter through early spring and is found in wet flatwoods and bogs.
Simmond’s aster is endemic to the Southeast coastal plain and while recorded from the Carolinas to Alabama, it is most prevalent throughout peninsular Florida.
Although it grows year-round, winter is the easiest time to spot Oak mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) as its evergreen leaves stand out amongst the leafless deciduous trees it inhabits. (And yes, this is the very same plant associated with the amorous holiday kissing tradition.)
Spotted wakerobin (Trillium maculatum) blooms as early as December in north central Florida, occupying the understory of upland hardwood forests, slope forests, hammocks and bluffs.
Perennial saltmarsh aster
Perennial saltmarsh aster (Symphyotrichum tenuifolium) has been described online as a “weak straggly plant,” however, as one of the few and often the only large-flowered species present among the grasses and rushes of the salt marsh, it plays an important ecological role for native bees!
Florida Keys blackbead
Florida Keys blackbead is a lovely tropical shrub common to coastal hammocks in Southeast Florida. Its beautiful blooms and wildlife value make it a great addition to the home landscape.
Coastalplain balm is a striking wildflower found in sandhill and scrub habitats. When in bloom, a single plant may have up to 100 or more bright to pale pink flowers. This creates beautiful fields abuzz with happy bees feasting on nectar and pollinating the plants. Not only is this scene pleasant on the eyes, but the plants also have a wonderful minty aroma that fills the air around them.
Winged sumac is a beautiful shrub to small tree found in flatwoods, dry prairie, sandhills, and disturbed sites throughout the eastern US and into Canada that has a wealth of both wildlife and ethnobotanical value.
State-endangered Purpledisk honeycombhead occurs in wet pine flatwoods, savannas, bogs and wet ditches and is pollinated by a variety of insects including bumblebees and butterflies. Its known populations are threatened due to habitat loss and fire suppression.
In fall, Florida’s natural areas and roadsides light up with flares of bright purple from our 17 native Liatris species. Among them, Pinkscale gayfeather (also called Elegant blazing star) is one of the most beautiful and unique. Butterflies and bees are attracted in abundance to its flowers and feed on the nectar they provide.
Holywood lignumvitae is a beautiful and fascinating tropical plant whose range is limited in the U.S. to the southern tip of Florida. It is a larval host for the Lyside sulphur butterfly and provides a nectar source for bees and other butterfly species. The seeds also attract and provide food for birds.
In late summer and early fall, shallow freshwater wetlands across Florida burst to life with tall stands of Water cowbane. It is a larval host for the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly and the flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators.
White fringed orchid
White fringed orchid is a striking wildflower found in bogs and wet meadows across North and Central Florida. The summer blooms attract many pollinators from bees to butterflies and moths.
Oneflower honeycombhead is endemic to the SE US coastal plain region and found in wet pine savannahs and flatwoods. Its beautiful yellow flowers attract butterflies and bees and the seedheads provide food for birds
Of Florida’s 10 native meadowbeauties (Rhexia genus), the Savannah meadowbeauty (Rhexia alifanus) stands among the tallest at around 4 feet. Its bright pink blooms can be seen rising up like flags from the shorter vegetation of the pine flatwoods, wet savannahs and roadside ditches. It is pollinated by bees through a unique strategy called buzz pollination!
Climbing hempvine is a lovely herbaceous vine that can be found rambling among low-growing vegetation along the edges of wet forests, prairies and marshes. It packs some powerful wildlife value as a larval host for the Little metalmark butterfly, nectar source for a diversity of pollinators, and nutritious forage for herbivorous mammals.