Despite its name, Florida Tasselflower (Emilia fosbergii), is not native to Florida. They are very adaptable and can be found in sunny or shady areas and are commonly found in yards in peninsular Florida.
Also known as Flora’s Paintbrush, this dainty little plant is most often considered a weed. They can reach heights of 2-3 feet and may produce 50 or more florets. Seeds are spread by the wind from their dandelion-like seedheads.
As a member of the aster family, Florida Tasselflower is an annual and may bloom year-round. Bees, wasps, and butterflies are attracted to their pink, red, or purple flowers.
Get outside. Stroll through your neighborhood. Connect with Nature. Listen to the leaves rustling in the wind and the birds chirping among the branches. Admire the beauty of a dead tree or limb while considering the wildlife who depend on them. Look for tiny wildflowers peeking from under a shrub. Pause for a few minutes and immerse yourself in the busy life of a bug or an ant colony. Our wild friends are as curious about us as we are of them. When you meet one, cherish the moment. Inhale deeply. Exhale all of your negative thoughts. Let your cares be swept away on the wings of a bird soaring with the wind.
This Florida Native Lupine, (Lupinus diffusus) thrives in the dry, sandy soils in sandhill and pinewood habitats as well as in pastures and on roadsides.
A member of the pea family, Sky-blue Lupine has fuzzy grayish-green leaves and beautiful blue flowers emerging from the central spike. This low growing shrub blooms from mid-winter through spring. Seeds are dispersed by animals and the wind.
Lupines can make a wonderful addition to your native garden. In the fall, plant seeds in well-drained sandy soil in full sun. They will produce flowers early next year. At the end of the blooming season, they will reseed and new plants emerge annually.
These delightful little plants are members of the Boraginaceae family which include the common forget-me-nots. They can establish well in sandy and disturbed sites and are commonly found in coastal hammocks. They also make a nice addition to your garden.
They are host plants for Bahamian swallowtail, Cassius Blue, Florida white, gray hairstreak, great southern white, gulf fritillary, Miami blue, queen, rudy daggewing, Schaus’ swallowtail, and others.
Do you have a favorite Florida native plant in your garden?
“This park is like nothing else in Florida. Being able to see the stars at night in unbelievable detail was absolutely worth the trip.” Jonathan Holmes, IOF Contributor
There is a place in Florida that is world-renowned for stargazing. Designated as a Dark Sky Park due to the absence of light pollution, the stars and planets can be enjoyed the way nature intended.
Located in Okeechobee, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is part of the headwaters to the Everglades and is the largest remaining dry prairie ecosystem in Florida. Once spanning coast to coast and from Lake Okeechobee to Kissimmee, the prairie has been reduced to a mere 10% of its original expanse.
Throughout the years, humans have altered the prairie to suit their needs. The State Park is working to restore the land to pre-European influence. Over 70 miles of ditches and canals have been restored to swales and sloughs. Old plow lines are slated for reconditioning, and a cattle pasture will be restored to native shrubs and grasses. As a fire and flood dependent ecosystem, these efforts will allow the prairie to thrive once again.
The most famous resident of the prairie is the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Critically endangered, the sparrows rely on a healthy prairie ecosystem for survival. Crested Caracaras, Burrowing Owls, Wood Storks, Swallow-Tail Kites, and White-Tail Kites find refuge at the park. Watch for Bald Eagles, White-tailed Deer, and Indigo Snakes. Native wildflowers are abundant. Look for Blazing Stars, Yellow Bachelors Buttons, Meadow Beauty, Pipewort, and Alligator Lilies.
There is plenty to do at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve. Hiking, horseback riding, and biking are wonderful ways to experience Nature up close. Camping, primitive camping, and equestrian camping are offered for those who want to spend the night. A ranger-led prairie buggy tour and an astronomy pad are spectacular ways to enjoy the park.
The Leavenworth’s tickseed is an endemic flower that provides food for several pollinators. It can usually be found in pine flatwoods where the soil is dry but can adapt to other regions. Here we have pictures with a species of fruitfly, Dioxyna picciola and a Green sweat bee, Agapostemon splendens. Most flowers are produced in spring but flowers can be found year-round. Have you spotted these beauties anywhere around the state?
This vibrant wildflower is found throughout the coastal regions of Florida, from the panhandle to the Keys. It is tolerant of salty and flooded soils. These plants are annuals and require open soil to spread and reseed. Depending on the conditions, the Rose of Plymouth can grow from 6 inches to 24 inches tall. The flowers are 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide and the plant creates many blooms. Flowers peak in the summer but can be seen blooming all year long. Rose of Plymouth can be grown from seeds and cuttings in wet to moist soils.
Named after a settlement in the 1840s, Old Miakka Preserve contains four miles of trails including scrub habitat, pinewood flatwood, and wetlands. The preserve is abundant in flowering plants with numerous pollinators and occasional gopher tortoises. One of the trails is named after Horticulturalist Tim Cash who spent years studying plants within the preserve. If you are looking for a calm trail with lots of sunshine and flowers, visit Old Miakka Preserve in Sarasota, FL.
Have you visited any interesting preserves lately? Message us with your pictures and some fun facts about your visit. Imagine Our Florida will feature your story as a Saturday saunter contributor.
Florida tickseed (coreopsis floridana) is just one of Florida’s many diverse and beautiful wildflowers. This wildflower is endemic to Florida. It can be found throughout most of the state, except the extreme northern Panhandle counties. The Coreopsis was adopted as Florida’s State Wildflower in 1991.
Coreopsis grow best in wet open habitats such as the upper edges of marshes, savannas, and prairies. This is a robust fall bloomer and can stand 3 feet tall in ideal conditions. The petals are bright yellow, surrounding a dark disc. The flowers form a bloom that is two inches across. The leaves are narrow and elliptical in shape. This plant requires wet to moist soil to survive. In such settings, it blooms into showy, beautiful wildflowers.