Sunday, October 28, 2012

Plant Profile: Rhododendron austrinum, Florida Flame Azalea

By Kimberly Williams

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.

Figure 1. Rhododendron austrinum, Florida flame azalea.
Photo credit: Walter Hodge.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magniolophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Rhododendron
Specific epithet: austrinum

Common names: Florida Flame Azalea, Honeysuckle Azalea, Deciduous Azalea

The gorgeous Rhododendron austrinum or Florida flame azalea (Figure 1) is found in Baker County and the western portion of the panhandle (Figure 2). Of the five Rhododendron in Florida, Rhododendron austrinum, R. alabamense, and R. minus var. chapmanii are listed as endangered and illegal to remove.
Figure 2. R. austrinum vouchered distribution map.

Florida flame azalea has beautiful bright orange-yellow flowers with connate petals to form a funnel-shaped corolla (Figure 3). Their sweet scent attracts bumble bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies - all desirable pollinators for any garden.

Liberty County's Torreya State Park is a great place to see this plant in its natural habitat. Although it is endangered in the wild, that won't preclude you from growing this appealing plant in your garden to enjoy its beauty, fragrance, and the wildlife it attracts. Once established, Florida flame azalea is a relatively low-maintenance, easy to grow native. To find the closest place to purchase this lovely plant, enter your county at the following link, provided by the Florida Association of Native Nurseries:
Figure 3. Funnelform corolla of R. austrinum.
Photo credit: Walter Hodge.

Floridata: #992 Rhododendron austrinum,
Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia: Rhododendron austrinum,
Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants ([S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Image Sources
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mistaken Identity: Will the Real Tropical Sage Please Step Forward

By Laurie Sheldon

The image shown is of a non-native
Salvia sp. often referred to as "tropical sage"
As one of the purveyors of the FNPS Facebook page, I routinely search the news for information I think our followers will be interested in. Sometimes I'm cued in to relevant stories on Twitter, but, more often than not, my Google news alert delivers "this just in" articles about native plants and other environmental tidbits straight to my inbox. Sunday morning (10/21) I was notified of an article about tropical sage in the newspaper, the author of which happened/happens to be a friend of mine. What I found to be somewhat alarming, however, was the photo attached to the story. It was not of the native tropical sage, Salvia coccinea, but of Salvia splendens - a plant from Brazil with the same common name. Uh oh. My friend and I had both signed up to for a field trip scheduled for the same day, so I waited until I saw her to ask her if she'd seen the final print. She had not. Double uh oh. "I sent them a picture," she told me, which I completely believe. I've been to her house a bazillion times, and I know first hand that a photo op of the native tropical sage described in her article is literally waiting right outside her front door.

Plants' common names are like people's nicknames in
that they are rarely unique to one plant/person.
What went wrong, then, and why do I care? Am I being rather petty? I think not. The problem here can be summed up in two words: common names. And it's not only MY problem - it's everyone's problem. Allow me to anthropomorphize for a moment. Picture this: you make lunch plans with a friend who works as a photographer at The Daily Planet. You decide to meet at your friend's office in downtown Metropolis, where there are dozens of restaurants in walking distance. You get to the glass front doors of the building and find that they're locked - a security measure you didn't anticipate. A phone next to the door directly connects you to the newspaper's receptionist, who asks who you're there to visit and if you have an appointment. You tell the receptionist you're there to meet a  photographer whom you refer to as "Flash" (your friend's nickname), and that your friend is expecting you. The receptionist tells you to wait and that your friend will be with you momentarily. A few minutes later, you watch an entire elevator full of people unload, walk over to the glass doors at the front of the building, look at you, and watch all but one of them return to the elevator. What happened? They're all nicknamed "Flash," you big dummy! It would be equally silly to walk into an Irish bar looking for someone called "Red." Why? Because "Flash" and "Red" are nicknames that broadly describe a single behavior/activity or a facet of appearance. They fail to call out a defining fingerprint, social security number, or the DNA that can only point in the direction of a single, unique individual.

My idea of a "flamboyant tree" is
not necessarily universal
Plants' common names are similar in that regard. In fact, the same plant can have as many different common names as there are languages to describe it. I realized this when I worked at a nursery in Miami. A customer walked in asking for a "flamboyan," which, roughly translated, means a "flamboyant tree." Say what? Um, sorry, we're all out of the Liberace species you're looking for (rolling eyes). Fortunately, one of my co-workers knew that a "flamboyant tree" is the equivalent of a "royal poinciana." Of course, if the customer had referred to it by its botanical name, Delonix regia, there would never have been a moment of confusion. (As a side note, it is not native to Florida)

What is so intimidating about botanical names? I'd really like to know. I get that it's frustrating when a plant that you learned to identify when it was in the Zingiberaceae seems to have suddenly jumped ship to the Costaceae. I feel your pain - really! Isn't it more frustrating, though, not to know what someone is talking about because they refuse to embrace the UNIQUE NAME a plant is given? Like most sciences, plant taxonomy isn't static. DNA sequencing has provided us with information that we could previously only hypothesize about based on morphological characteristics. It is nothing short of awesome! Sure, it forces us to rethink faulty assumptions we'd previously made. Big whoop! If it wasn't for someone who challenged the scientific beliefs of his time, we'd all live on top of one another, fearful of falling off the edge of a flat earth.

Native "tropical sage" - Salvia coccinea -
comes in hues of peach and red.
So what am I driving at, and how can I possibly tie it into an article with a mismatched photo? Someone could read this article, see the photo (top of page) of the "tropical sage" that big box stores are all about selling, then recognize and purchase it the next time they go out to pick up a plunger or mulch - all the while believing that they're getting a Florida native. Those of us with a solid hold on what is and is not native represent an infinitesimal percent of the population. We know the botanical names and families of plants by heart, and have attempted to pass that information on to those whose enthusiasm could be measured in a thimble, only to be greeted with the "whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" look. Individuals who decide of their own will and volition to read an article about natives, on the other hand, have demonstrated an interest in and willingness to learn - they're primed for a formal introduction. A first and last name, c/o the 250+ year-old system of binomial nomenclature, makes the most logical starting point. A firm handshake, not so much.We cannot shy away from botanical names for fear that they are off-putting or difficult to remember - especially when discussing natives. If you want Polaner All Fruit you don't ask for jelly. Likewise, if you want the native "tropical sage" you have to ask for Salvia coccinea.

The label on the left is in a F.L.E.P.P.C.Category 1 invasive from
Ceylon. The pot on the right contains a native of east Asia.
Misleading information about plant material is pervasive in high-traffic nurseries, where it serves both to bolster sales of non-natives and cloud the reality of plant origins. Bearing in mind that one of the missions of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of this state's native plants and native plant communities through education, it is our responsibility to provide the public with the tools to see through the turbidity created by marketing phrases like "Flowers for Florida" and " "Florida Friendly." The most effective way to obtain that clarity is through both  genus and specific epithet.


Individuals who feel that no blog is complete without a bulleted list may be comforted by the following:

  • Only good for the language (and often region) being used. Even in English, what they call a plant in the Bahamas may be different from Florida, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, etc..  therefore one species of plant may have several common names depending on where you are in addition to what language you speak. Scientific names are the same whether you are in China, Mozambique, or Iceland.
  • Often shared by many different species of plants. Pennyroyal is a common name for both the native Piloblephis rigida, and the commercial herb Mentha pulegium;  Firebush is a common name used for not only the native Hamelia patens, but also all of the non-native “look-alikes”.
  • Occasionally misleading. Australian-pine is not a pine.  Scrub rosemary is not a rosemary, although it is in the same family.
  • Uncommon! Most plants in the world don’t have common names.
  • Unregulated. Scientific names must follow the rules set forth by the International Code of Nomenclature. Anyone can call any plant whatever common name he/she wants.


Image sources and additional credits:
Sage article - screenshot of undisclosed newspaper
Photographer by Microsoft Office
Flamboyant tree illustration by Laurie Sheldon
Peach Salvia coccinea by Shirley Denton
Red Salvia coccinea by Shirley Denton
Misleading plant labels/containers by Laurie Sheldon

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Say Yes To Violets

By Steven W. Woodmansee, FNPS President

V. lanceolata, Bog White Violet
Violets represented by the genus Viola, although often thought of as northern species, do grow in Florida. Ten native species occur in our fine state, four of which occur in our ten southern counties. Violets are herbs which often form a basal rosette, and have a fat creeping stem (often several inches in length), and usually below ground. All southern Florida species typically grow 4-5 inches in height. Plants typically flower in springtime and are quite noticeable, usually measuring about an inch or more across. Flowers are bilaterally symmetrical, with five petals forming a shape much like a harlequin mask, the center petal often has lines that act as nectar guides. Fruits are a capsule which dehisces (opens up when dry), readily spreading by seed and can be quite abundant where found. Interestingly, violets are also known for their edibility, as flowers may be used in salads.

V. sororia, Common Blue Violet
One species, Viola lanceolata, the Bog White Violet, has the broadest range, in South Florida, having only never been documented from Hendry, Broward, and the Keys. It may be absent from Miami-Dade County, as the habitat for it there may no longer exist. It is found in acidic soils of wet to mesic pine flatwoods, an abundant habitat most elsewhere in Florida. Bog White Violet is easily identified by its white flowers and lance-shaped leaves.

The Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) is still extant in Miami-Dade where I have seen it in moist sandy hammocks and homeowner’s yards nearby. It also occurs along the tramways in the Fakahatchee Swamp, and the pinelands in the Big Cypress. Although typically blue flowered, albeit often a pale blue, those found in Miami-Dade County usually possess white flowers. The leaves of this species are cordate (heartshaped). This one readily grows as a lawnweed where it can be quite prolific.

V. palmata, Early Blue Violet
The Early Blue Violet (Viola palmata) is found in mesic flatwoods, and not terribly common in South Florida being found in Collier, Palm Beach, Lee and Charlotte counties. As the scientific name suggests the leaves are strongly lobed, or lyre shaped and the flowers are indeed a deep blue.

V. primulifolia, Primroseleaf Violet
The rarest of the four is the Primroseleaf violet (Viola primulifolia). It has been documented at Collier, Lee, Palm Beach, and Martin counties. I have only observed it in Martin, where it is found in moist flatwoods often trailside. This species has cordate leaves that aren’t quite as lobed as the common blue violet, and has smaller white flowers.

Edited and posted by Laurie Sheldon

Image sources

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Counting Blessings: Warea amplexifolia

By Jackie Rolly with contributions from Juliet Rynear

Above & below: counting W. amplexifolia at Seminole State Forest

Just over a year ago, the Florida Forestry Service stood by as flames engulfed the Warea Tract - a 40-acre portion of Seminole State Forest that the agency is responsible for maintaining. Apparently, this prescribed burning was just what the doctor ordered. Earlier this month (October, 2011), Jackie Rolly and others had the privilege of counting approximately 1,158 specimens of Warea amplexifolia (commonly known as “Wide-leaf Warea” or “Clasping Warea”) on the site. This plant, endemic to central Florida, has remained on the Federal Register of endangered plants since its listing in 1987. Additional endangered plants that Rolly and her group identified include Lewton’s Milkwort (Polygala lewtonii), Trailing Milkvine (Matelea publiflora), Scrub Plum (Prunus geniculata), and Scrub Morning Glory (Bonamia grandiflora).

Habitat loss is the primary threat to this species. Sadly, only a handful of W. amplexifolia populations remain within its historical range. Of the extant populations, only two others are similarly located on land that is protected from development. For this reason, the Warea Tract is not open to the public, but FNPS members are always welcome to assist with monitoring and counting.

Clasping warea is known or assumed to have been extirpated from several sites in Orange, Lake and Osceola Counties. Its preferred habitat -  dry, open, upland Pinus palustris woods underlain with well-drained, white sandy soil - has been largely usurped by groves of citrus from Leesburg to Haines City. Populations of the plant in areas including Orlando, Tavares, and Leesburg are isolated and vulnerable to the pressures of development.

Seminole State Forest - Warea Tract Location
W. amplexifolia, a member of the Brassicaceae, is a herbaceous summer annual that typically reaches 3 feet in height, with slender, branching stems arising from an elongate tap root. Its leaves are alternately arranged and are generally heart-shaped with conspicuous basal lobes which clasp the stem (hence its common name). Its pale purple flowers are showy and are borne in small, rounded, puff-like clusters at the ends of the branches. Reproduction is exclusively sexual by the production of seeds, which are probably released from its fruit, a dehiscent silique, by wind action. The small seeds generally fall near the parent plant. A full description can be found at
Clasping Warea inflorescence

The plant's attractive flowers predispose it to being picked by vandals and curios passers-by, and taken for use as a cultivated ornamental. Additionally, because this species is an annual, and extremely restricted in both range and numbers, it is vulnerable to disturbance and natural disasters. The failure of any one of the remaining populations to set seed in the fall could result in the extirpation of that population and a further reduction in the already small genetic variability of the species. Should you happen to find this plant in an undocumented area, please contact Juliet Rynear, FNPS Conservation Chair, at

Edited and posted by Laurie Sheldon
Counting photos by by Ken Ricklick, member of the FNPS Tarflower Chapter
Map derived from by Laurie Sheldon
Warea close-up by Shirley Denton, from

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 10/15/2012: "The Power of We"

It's easy to see how the Florida Native Plant Society and the combined actions of its 37 chapters - 4,000 members in all - fit within the context of this year's Blog Action Day topic, "The Power of We." Here are some of the activities we've engaged in - as a group  - for the purpose of conserving and/or restoring Florida's native plant communities and the wildlife that depend upon them.

1) The FNPS annual report for 2011 provides a solid starting point for learning about some of the organization's many accomplishments over the past year.

Community action transformed an urban park.
2) Native Park in Jacksonville
A group of FNPS members and neighbors turned a small city park into an award-winning showcase for locally native plants. This park was started in 1923 by a local garden club. FNPS members and other volunteers have spent countless Saturday mornings digging up invasive and non-native plants, and have added 138 native species to the 37 that existed when they adopted the park in 2011. The local FNPS chapter (Ixia) raised money to pay for the plants. This project is a terrific example of the impact that we can have on our communities and public spaces by joining forces and working together to achieve something greater than what any one of us could ever do alone.

A turf-free landscape in a deed-restricted community
3) A How To: Grass-free and Deed Restricted
A small but determined group of people have changed the way that residential landscapes are judged. Through education and example, we are shifting the notion of curb appeal from that which is all lawn - uniform and green - to something more diverse and alive with color. Possibly the most critical factor involved in this process is showing people that grassless landscapes are not typified by a field of weeds. To the contrary, they can be tidy and well maintained in addition to being attractive to other species besides Homo sapiens.

Entomologist Dr. Daniels spreads the word on the benefits of attracting insects.
4) Jaret Daniels and his Charismatic Pollinators
By concentrating on the charismatic pollinators, Jaret Daniels is overcoming people's negative attitudes toward bugs. His research also includes working with farmers to show them that leaving some unplowed land in and amongst their crops pays big benefits when comes to attracting native pollinators.

5) An Ode to Volunteers
This Earth Day post summarizes many of the great accomplishments by these unpaid, but enthusiastic activists. This really is a story of the power of we.

Bald cypress trees thrive in swampy
conditions that would kill other trees.

6) 32nd Annual Conference Field Trips
This list of wild and attractive sites summarizes central Florida's success stories of preserving the heart of Florida. Most successes are a combination of efforts from organizations large and small with a core group of enthusiasts.

7) 10 Ways to Observe Invasive Species Awareness Week
A guideline on how to observe Invasive Species Awareness Week in Florida. Little-by-little we can work together so we can reduce the huge problem of these plants and animals taking over niches that were once used by native species.

The trout lilies of Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve were saved from development
8) Trout Lilies Bloom Early This is a fantastic story of the largest and southernmost population of trout lilies or dog-toothed violets in the country just north of Tallahassee in south Georgia. The property was owned by a developing company, but fortunately for the lilies, the housing market crashed in 2007, so a small group of people an a few organizations were able to come up with the money to save this marvelous and unique ecosystem.
"All great projects require one brave and persistent soul to keep them going, no matter how many help. For Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, this person is Dan Miller. Everyone who has or ever will witness the sight of the millions and millions of trout lilies flowing over the curves of the slope owes him thanks!"

And we end with the previous year's annual report:
9) The FNPS 2010 Annual Report 

The FNPS 2010 Annual Report

A year's worth of projects, actions, educational sessions, outreach events, and workdays the show that the Florida Native Plant Society has The Power of We. This post has been part of the 2012 Blog Action Day.

Ginny Stibolt

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Family Profile: The Sapindaceae

By Emily Barnes and Dan Moore

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Plant Taxonomy students at Jacksonville University. FNPS blogger Laurie Sheldon assisted the students with their initial drafts, providing suggestions for editing and content development.

Figure 1. Acer saccharum ssp. floridanum, FL
sugar maple. Photo credit: Michael Drummond.
Plant Sex: Bisexual (ex: Bligia sapida) or unisexual (ex: Litchi chinensis)
Flowers: Radial to bilateral, with a nectar disk usually present
Fruits: Loculicidal and septicidal capsules (ex: Bilia columbiana), berries (ex: Litchi chinensis), samaras (ex: Acer rubrum), and schizocarps (ex: Dipteronia sinensis)

Leaves: Alternate or opposite; pinanately or palmately compound, trifoliate or unifoliate

Figure 2. Aesculus pavia (red buckeye) flowers
are popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.
Photo credit: Shirley Denton.

Sapindaceae is commonly referred to as the “soapberry family” and includes trees, shrubs, and lianas. Serjania is the largest genus of the Sapindaceae, which includes 215 species. Species in this family are largely found in Asia and America, specifically in tropical to subtropical regions. 

In Florida, the Sapindaceae has14 representative native species  within 8 distinct genera, including maples (fig. 1), buckeyes or horse-chestnuts (fig. 2), and soapberries (fig. 3).

Figure 3. Sapindus saponaria, soapberry.
Photo credit: Craig Huegel.
Fun facts
Sapindus saponaria can be used as soap. (This explains the common name for the family, “soapberry”). By crushing the berries to get to the saponin, Native Americans and early settlers were able to make soap and other cleansers.
Schleichera trijuga produces macassar oil, which can be used in ointments.
Paullinia cupana produces guarana, a potable liquid. Brazilians are known to be very fond of drinking guarana! It can also be found in Rockstar and Redbull energy drinks.
Blighia sapida contains an edible aril which can be poisonous if eaten during the wrong stage of ripeness! People of West Africa are known to eat this fruit.
Melicocca bijuga is harvested for its tasty Spanish lime in South America.


Image sources

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2011 FNPS Annual Report

 The Florida Native Plant Society has released its annual report for 2011. Please read the whole report for yourself to see how much our organization accomplishes in one short year. What I've included here are some screenshots to give an idea of what is included.

From FNPS president Steve Woodmansee:
Restoration of our native habitats begins with the native plants appropriate to our areas. The continued protection of our remaining natural habitats is also critically important. After all, these are the refugia where our native wildlife still survives. For these reasons I actively support the Florida Native Plant Society.
These pages illustrate some of the many Florida Native Plant Society achievements in 2011. Help us continue to preserve Florida’s natural heritage, native plant by native plant community.


What is notable about the FNPS operating expenses pie chart is that a full 80% of our expenses is for programs. We are very efficient!

But we are always looking for new audiences and much of the state-wide and chapter-level activities are education and outreach.

The program expenses include membership, our beautiful member publication, "The Palmetto," conference expenses, education, government policy, research and conservation, and landscape awards expenses.

I hope you've enjoyed this very short tour of the 2011 FNPS annual report. There are already many new initiatives and activities taking place this year. Don't be an armchair observer and wait for next year's report. Get out there to have fun, learn new things, and actively participate in helping to preserve and restore Florida's native plant communities. Find a chapter near you at
It matters!

Ginny Stibolt

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Plant Profile: Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida

By Sally Marie Futch

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.


Figure 1. Four white bracts surrounding the
yellow-green flowers of C. florida.
Photo credit: Mickaw2.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Specific epithet: florida

Cornus florida or flowering dogwood: Cornus is from the Latin word of “cornu” meaning hard and bony, “florida” means flowering in Latin. The flowering dogwood is a tree typically found growing in the shaded understory of mesic hammocks.

Figure 2. Red drupes of C. florida.
Photo credit: Virginia Ducey.
You may think that the easiest way to identify the flowering dogwood is from its beautiful white ‘flowers’, but you would be mistaken (Figure 1). Those “flowers” are actually four modified leaves or bracts that surround clusters of the true green-yellow flowers (Figure 1). You can enjoy watching the blooms and the pollinators attracted to the nectar during the months of March to October. Also, the spring azure butterfly, Celastrina ladon, deposits its larvae on the plant. The fruits are red drupes that are eaten by birds and squirrels.

The roots have been used to make a red dye, the bark to treat malaria in humans, and the wood to make the heads of golf clubs!

The Dogwood is among the most commonly used in landscaping for their beauty. Unfortunately the fungus dogwood blight has decimated populations.

Interested in having one for your yard? Consider purchasing from a member of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I.M.B.Y. (In My Backyard)

Sea Oats; photo by Shirley Denton
by Eric Powell
introduction by Laurie Sheldon

Eric Powell has taken on the ambitious task of assembling a monthly newsletter for his chapter, Sea Oats in St. Johns County. In addition to including information about upcoming meetings, field trips, and local events, Eric catalogues the specimens that are concurrently blooming in his own landscape while working on the publication. The following is an excerpt from Sea Oats' most recent circular.

Garden Update

Every month, I prepare a list of all the plants I have in bloom at the time I put the newsletter together. At least three people have confessed that they actually read it; for the life of me, I have no idea why. Although I readily admit to being a plantaholic, I swear I have not bought, been gifted, or stolen one single plant this month!  Must be a record!  Regardless, it seems that all it takes for my list to grow longer is some time spent staring at the ground. And man, has it ever grown!

I thought about keeping track of this stuff in spreadsheet format. I studied Latin briefly long ago, so I'm not intimidated by the botanical names, but it didn't really help me with deciphering words like "nephrolepidaceae," for instance, which occurs nowhere in the average beginning Latin reader. After many trips back and forth into the yard, many many searches on the internet, a few IDs at meetings, my catalogue finally started to take shape. Ultimately, I decided to include the non-natives (so I don't forget which they are), the shrubs that were already here, the fruit trees I put in, the ornamentals that I was pressured (forced, kicking and screaming!) into. I also tried to find out what all of my weeds are really called (I had given most of those some choice names of my own, but they weren't appropriate for a written list). Many were not native (keep pulling), many were (hurray, can stop pulling those!). When I got down to brass tacks, excluding most of the bazillion types of grasses that made up the original "lawn" a year ago, I came up with 130 different species (plus 5 extra cultivars). Drop the non-natives and it's 99 native plant species in 87 genera  (that's "genus-es", for the uninitiated). Have no fear, I'll hunt down that hundredth native plant tomorrow. For the time being it's still unmanageable in my crowded little head.

Celtis laevigata (hackberry)
Clearly, I need a life. Here's an idea -- a little family time!  Great!  So I looked up all the families for my 99 native plants. That will be a little more manageable, right?  How many families can there be? Ten, twelve?  I'll be able to say, "I have some oaks, some some viburnums, some asters". Well, first, "oaks" aren't a family. Yet. Let me tell you, the modern family ain't what it used to be. Turns out, my hackberry trees used to be Ulmaceae (elm family), then briefly changed to Celtaceae (hackberry family). Now they appear to be Cannabaceae (cannabis family). Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!  In the end, picking a family from the ever exciting and changing world of plant nomenclature made my 99 species and 87 genera sooo much more manageable:  50. Ugh.

The most prolific families (with at least four species represented) are/were:
Lantana involucrata with zebra longwing
  • Asteraceae (asters): 18, including coreopsis, liatris, blanket flower, sunflowers and ironweed.
  • Ericaceae (heaths): 5, including lyonia, sparkleberry and flame azalea.
  • Fabaceae (legumes): 5, including redbud, coral bean, and cassia.
  • Lamiaceae (mints), 5, including horsemint, tropical salvia, florida betony, and blue curls.
  • Poaceae (grasses): 4, including sea oats (chapter requirement) and bluestem. And sand burs (I didn't say they're all good, just native).
  • Verbenaceae (verbenas): 4, including beautyberry, turkey tangle and button sage (aka white lantana).

I also figured out why the very cool looking "oleander wasp moth" caterpillars, which I had read only eat oleander leaves, were eating the mandevilla last winter: both dogbane family (and both non-native plants, so chow down, oleander wasp moths!)

Liatris gracilis, Asteraceae
I almost forgot...

Blooming in September:

Newly flowering, reblooming, or missed last month:
Florida betony (Stachys floridana), Gayfeather (Liatris gracilis, L. spicata), Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), Simpson's stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans).

Senna ligustrina, Fabaceae

Still going:
Beach Primrose (Oenothera drummondii), Beggarticks (Bidens alba), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella), Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata), Carolina wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis), Christmas Berry (Lycium carolinianum), Coreopsis (C. laevigata, C. leavenworthii), Dollarweed (Hydrocotyle bonariensis?), Drummond's Phlox (Phlox drummondii), Dune Sunflower (Helianthus debilis), Firebush (Hamelia patens), Groundcherry (Physalis walteri?), Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata), Narrowleaf ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia), Pink purslane (Portulaca pilosa), Privet cassia (Senna ligustrina), Rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus), Scarlet rosemallow (Hibiscus coccineus), Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), Spotted horsemint (Monarda punctata), Summer poinsettia (Poinsettia cyathophora), Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa), Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis), Tropical Salvia (Salvia coccinea), Turkey tangle (Phyla nodiflora), Twinflower (Dyschoriste oblongifolia), Varnish leaf (Dodonea viscosa), Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum - two dwarf cultivars).

The most popular plant here - hands down - has been the Monarda punctata (dotted horsemint). Wow! I can't even try to guess the number of species/genera/families of insects that were partying down on this guy!  Bugs in every size, shape, color and buzz!  And, no... I'm not doing a spreadsheet.

Monarda punctata - the most popular guy in town!

 All photos by Eric Powell unless otherwise noted.