The purpose of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. This blog presents ideas and information to further the cause of Florida's native plants and ecosystems.
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Wednesday's Wildflower: Venus Looking-Glass
Photo and text submitted by Roger L. Hammer, Dade Chapter
is a native herbaceous annual with hairy, ribbed stems and ovate to elliptic,
alternate, clasping leaves that reach about ⅜"–¾" long. The axillary,
sessile, 5-lobed flowers measure about ⅜" across.
Look for this species
from February into May, mostly along roadsides and other disturbed sites
through the Florida panhandle, across the northern peninsula, and south in the
peninsula to Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hardee, Polk, Osceola, and Volusia
counties. Globally it ranges from Argentina northward throughout the United
States into British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.
Native Americans made
a tea of the roots and leaves to help relieve indigestion and also “to make one
sick all day” as a treatment for overeating. The leaves were also smoked during
Triodanis means “three-toothed” and possibly relates to
the 3 calyx lobes on some flowers or the pores on the capsules. The name perfoliata refers
to the stems that seemingly perforate the leaves. Belgium-born botanist and
reverend Julius Arthur Nieuwland (1878–1936) placed it in the genus Triodanis in
1914. The common name alludes to the shiny seeds that resemble a looking glass,
or tiny mirrors. Bees and small butterflies visit the flowers while buntings,
goldfinches, and sparrows eat the seeds. One other species in Florida, Triodanis
biflora, ranges discontinuously across the panhandle south in the
peninsula as far as Highlands County
Other Names: Dwarf Mulberry, Beautybush, Filigree, French Mulberry, Beautyberry
Introduction: Purple berries clinging around stems with bright green foliage make Callicarpa americana stand out from late summer to winter. It is easy to see how beautyberry got its common name. Don’t let its looks fool you though; Callicarpa is more than just eye candy. Callicarpa americana is useful medicinally and as food for wildlife and people. American Beautyberry is not fussy about location, soil or light requirements. This tough plant is an American Beauty in every sense of the word. Its name comes from Greek: Kalli, means beautiful; Karpos means fruit.
Historic Medicinal Uses:
Native Americans had many uses for beautberry, both internally and externally. According to Taylor (1940), Native Americans used beautyberry externally as a steam and topical application. All parts of the pla…
Australian pines seem to be everywhere in the coastal regions in the bottom half of Florida. Their name is deceiving because, while they are native to Australia, they aren't pines or even conifers. They are flowering trees with separate male and female flowers, and what look like needles are really green twiglets with close-set circles of tiny leaves that drop at the first sign of a drought. In the photo to the right, the light-colored lines are where leaves where once attached. Most of the photosynthesis takes place in the twiglets.
There are three species of Australian pine (Casuarina spp) that have been imported into Florida for various purposes. They were widely planted to soak up the "swamps" in Florida, stabilize canals, and hold beaches. Unfortunately for Florida's ecosystems, the "pines" accomplished all this and more--like seeding prolifically, growing five feet or more per year, producing dense shade, and emitting an herbicide that kills most a…
These perky natives have numerous and endearing charms. Authors and growers disagree about the proper Latin name, but they are in complete agreement that more people should use more coonties in their landscapes.
What's to like?
Coonties are spritely and graceful in their form, tough as the dickens, bright green all year, and host plant for the beautiful blue atala
hairstreak butterfly. In fact, coonties are the only larval food for atalas. You can use them as specimen or accent plants, mass them together for ground cover, or use them in a line as a border. And to top that off, they have an interesting sex life. A subject we hardly ever get to talk about around here. More on that later. See more in Roger Hammer's 1995 Palmetto article, The Coontie and the Atala Hairstreak.
Slow growers, coonties are more expensive to buy than some other natives by relative size, but don't let that put you off. They are well worth the investment. They can be planted in full sun or fairly …