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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An Appreciation of Scarlet Hibiscus
Hibiscus coccineus is native to Florida's wet places throughout the state. It's a tall herbaceous perennial and dies back to the ground in late fall after its leaves turn a gorgeous pale yellow and fall off. I have purchased several specimens at native plant gatherings and garden fests. They've all done well at the edge of our good-sized pond and have come back larger and with more stalks each year.
When I was doing garden fests this spring to sell my book, I'd look for yet another scarlet hibiscus to buy to decorate my vendor's table. Without exception, people stopped to ask about it. Most of the questions sounded something like this, "Is that a legal plant there little darlin'? People wondered about its leaf shape, which resembles marijuana leaves. I always had my Gil Nelson book, "Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants" available with a bookmark in this hibiscus page with its magnificent red flowers, there's no mistaking it for that other weed. I even bought a white variety at the St. Augustine show.
Most folks are more aware of the tropical hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) that is widely sold in big box stores and is often planted by landscape contractors. I had several that came with the house, and while they have died back to the ground during some winters, this year's particularly cold weather, killed three of them, but the biggest one has finally started to grow back and is now (at the end of July) about a foot tall. I doubt whether it will flower at all this year. Yes, the flowers are beautiful, but this photo was shot in the middle of December. It had made no preparation for winter, like the grasshopper in the old Aesop's fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The native hibiscus plants are like the ant because they prepare for winter by losing their leaves and cutting off nutrients to the stems that die back to the ground as the days grow short.
Yet another reason to add more natives to your landscape--they know what to do as the seasons change from hot to cold or wet to dry.
Austrailian Pine fruits 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
by Bob Silverman Blanketflower, Galliardia pulchella You don’t have to travel far to see one of the hundreds of native flowers that make Florida stand out. They’re nature’s roadside attractions, and many can make for colorful additions to your yard. Consider these natural wonders: Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana - this shrub dazzles with its clumps of purple fruit that will draw birds to your yard. Black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia spp. - with a brown center surrounded by petals of yellow, golden, orange, or red petals, is perfect for attracting butterflies to your garden. Firebush, Hamelia patens var. patens - with its bright red flowers, can serve as a beacon for hummingbirds, butterflies, and songbirds (which like to feed on its berries). Tickseed, Coreopsis spp. - our state wildflower, sometimes called Coreopsis, comes in 12 species native to Florida. You’ll find all of them in the northern part of the state, but South Florida is limited to Leavenworth’s tickseed, Co
Man-in-the-ground ( Ipomoea microdactyla ), fantastically beautiful morning glory for southernmost Florida. A post by Roger L. Hammer Most everyone is familiar with morning-glories in the genus Ipomoea, and certainly everyone reading this has even eaten Ipomoea batatas, the common sweet potato. The Morning-Glory Family (Convolvulaceae) is well-represented in Florida, with 67 species in fourteen genera. Of those, twenty-four species are naturalized exotics, and four species are endemic to Florida, found nowhere else. The genus Ipomoea is the largest in the family, with twenty-five species and one naturally-occurring hybrid of two native species. Exactly half of the species (13) in Florida are native. Only two species are rare enough to be listed as endangered by the state of Florida, and these are the rockland morning-glory ( Ipomoea tenuissima ) and man-in-the-ground ( Ipomoea microdactyla ). Both are on the northern extreme of their natural range in Florida, and both are re