Archive | July, 2010

Tall Elephant’s Foot

31 Jul

This was growing in a park in Tavares near the pine and tarflowers. The main plant is just a rosette of leaves near the ground. When it flowers these 3′ tall spikes of lavender flowers shoot up.

Tall Elephants foot - Elephantopus elatus

Tread Softly

30 Jul

This is a common plant growing in sunny fields and pastures. I remember trying to pick the flowers as a kid and getting to know personally why another name for this plant is “Finger Rot”!

It has tiny stinging hairs that really pack a punch!

Tread Softly - Cnidoscolus stimulosus

Spanish Needles

29 Jul

Many will say this is a weed that needs to be destroyed. It crops up in gardens and the tiny seeds “stick” to whatever passes by – pants legs, dog fur, socks whatever. I’ve heard all the horror stories of people trying to get rid of it, But I never had any in my garden – not until last year. Last year I bought a plant from a garden center that evidently had some seeds of Spanish Needles. Soon up popped some green leaves. I decided not to pull this new invader. After all the flowers are cute, and the butterflies love them. And at any time I look, a tiny little bee gathering nectar can be seen on each flower. When it gets a bit leggy I just cut it back, and it grows back fuller to bloom even more.

Dare I say it? I actually like having it in the garden! (but then again, I don’t have a dog)

Spanish Needles - Bidens alba

Cute as a Jellybean

28 Jul

These little cucumber vines grow wild in my yard. they trail up and around the palms & oaks. Whenever we are weeding, as we pull them up the distinct smell of cucumber fills the air. The little fruits are about the size of jelly beans, look like tiny watermelons – and are edible when they are green. As the fruits ripen they turn black and are no longer edible. If you do eat a black one, I’m told it is the mother of all laxatives! I’m not a fan of cucumber, so I haven’t tried them, but the next time I’m weeding I’ll save some of the fruits for a friend who loves cucumbers. I’ll keep you posted!

Creeping Cucumber - Melothria pendula

Partridge Pea

27 Jul

The Partridge Pea seems to be the workhorse of the roadside wildflowers. It grows in dry sunny sandy areas along the roadsides, disturbed areas and old pastures. It is an annual and sprouts every year from seed to bloom bright yellow blooms in summer. By workhorse I mean it has many different jobs: a host plant for the Cloudless sulphur butterfly, nectar for bees, food for bobwhite quail and deer. It can bring home the bacon & fry it up in a pan & still be pretty too!:)

Partridge Pea - Chamaecrista fasciculata

Ground Nut

26 Jul

This is a vine that grows wild in my yard . It winds itself through the azaleas mostly unseen, until the flowers pop with pink. The flowers are lightly sweet smelling. Early americans used the root of this plant much like a potato when other foods were scarce – hence the name Ground Nut. It is also a host plant for the Silver Spotted Skipper butterfly.

Ground Nut (Apios americana)

White Beardtongue

25 Jul

A native from the snapdragon family. This one was growing alone in an open pine forest. The white flowers on a 3′ stalk was like a beacon on the trail.

White beardtongue (Penstemon multiflorus)