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Cardinal Flower

27 Jul

Cardinal Flower is a Florida native plant that thrives in wet areas. If you canoe or kayak along the Wekiva, Withlacoochee or any of our other wild waterways during the summer, you’ll likely see this bright red flower along the shore. The flowers are so nice, that it has become a popular nursery plant, so you can easily purchase plants on-line to try them in your own garden. Just be sure to pick a moist shady area. It is a great hummingbird attractor too!

Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis

Ball Moss in bloom

24 Jul

Ball Moss is most commonly found growing on Live Oak trees in Central and South Florida. If you see a fuzzy grey ball growing on a tree – it is most likely Ball Moss. But it is not an actual moss –  it is a true flowering plant, related to pineapple, Spanish moss, and other bromeliads. An epiphyte, meaning it does not take nutrients or water from its host, it causes no harm to the tree. It gets nutrients from the atmosphere and rain. During spring and summer it produces lovely tiny purple flowers. A brown seed pod follows.

Ball Moss - Tillandsia recurvata

Golden Polypody

22 Jul

The Golden Polypody is also known as the Cabbage Palm Fern, since that is where you’ll most likely see this plant growing throughout Florida.

It is an epiphytic fern with large arching 2′ fronds which sprout out from a rhizome attached to the palm. The rhizomes are brown and hairy resembling a rabbit’s foot.

Golden Polypody - Phlebodium aureum

Resurrection Fern

8 Jul

Resurrection Fern is a small fern that grows on the branches of  Live oaks & large Cypress trees. It is an epiphyte, meaning that it takes nutrients from the air and  water that collects on the tree. It does not feed on the tree itself.

During dry weather the Resurrection fern is brown, shriveled and dead looking. But once the rain comes it “resurrects” or comes back to life and its brown fronds unfold to green. After a few days without rain, it shrivels once again.

These photos were taken right outside my front door of a cluster of Resurrection fern growing on a Live oak tree.

Resurrection fern

Resurrection fern - Polypodium polypodioides

Resurrection Fern - drying up and starting to shrivel

Tropical Puff

29 Jun

This yellow flowering sensitive plant was found growing along the roadside near Ozello, Florida.

The sprawling, low growing creeper has leaves that will curl up when touched. Very similar to the pink Mimosa microphylla, but with no thorns and yellow round flowers. A member of the pea family,  it is the larval host plant for the Ceraunus Blue butterfly.

Tropical Puff - Neptunia pubescens

Gulf Coast Swallow-wort

23 Jun

This was another plant found last week on the roadside near Ozello, Fl.  The Gulf Coast Swallow-wort is a native climbing milkweed. Clusters of small pale peachy colored flowers are along a twining vine with sparse slender leaves. More easily noticed because of the typical seed pods, and also as host plant for the Queen butterfly.

It prefers the brackish salty areas along the Florida coastal counties.

Gulf Coast Swallow-wort - Cynanchum angustifolium

White Seaside Gentian

21 Jun

Last June I posted about the Seaside Gentian, a beautiful lavender flower with a purple center. This June I’m posting it again in its white flower form! These were found growing on the salty roadside sand in large groups near Ozello, Fl, along with their purple flowering relatives. If you want to try growing these at home, you’ll most likely have some luck with another Seaside Gentian relative known as Lisianthus in garden centers throughout summer.


White Seaside Gentian - Eustoma exaltatum

Purple Seaside Gentian - Eustoma exaltatum