waterlily flower and leaves

Wildflowers, What’s Blooming: Native Milkweeds

Named by Ponce de Leon in 1513, La Florida means “Land of Flowers” — and indeed it is!  Florida has more than 3,600 native and naturalized flowering species. Wildflowers are plants that grow in their natural state with little or no interference from man. Florida has 170 species of endemic wildflowers, which mean that they grow naturally in a certain area, and nowhere else. Because of this restriction, many are threatened, living on the verge of extinction. It is illegal to pick or dig wildflowers from public property, but there are many species that can be purchased for landscape use.

In this issue of Wildflowers: What’s Blooming , we explore three Florida native milkweed species:

Wildflowers, What's Blooming: Native Milkweeds Fewflower Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) Deep red-orange flowers, nearly leafless stalks and milky sap are all characteristics that distinguish this species from A. tuberosa.  Growing in wet meadows, swamps and moist pine-lands, find these flowers blooming across the state in spring and summer. White Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias perennis) White flowers are clustered in umbels. Long, lanceolate leaves are oppositly arranged. Find this native milkweed growing in the swamps, wet woods and rivers banks throughout central and north Florida. Blooms spring, summer and fall. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) This bushy perennial grows two feet tall (or more) and produces bright orange, eye catching flowers. Leaves are mostly alternate and this species has no milky sap. Often grown from seed in home gardens, it can be found growing wild nearly throughout Florida in sandhills, pine flatwoods, pastures and other disturbed, sandy sites like ditches.

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