Sunday, January 31, 2010

Survivors

Over at Facebook where I maintain a page for our local chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (http://www.Facebook.com/PineLilyFNPS), I just had someone ask what plants I have seen in bloom or green in our area (Central Florida) since their yard was hit hard by the freeze. I dashed off some pictures of my St. John's Wort (Hypericum tetrapetalum), Fetterbush (Lyonia lucida) and Shiny Blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites) which I had just taken a day or two ago.

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I was pleased to report that my Blue Curls (Trichostema dichotomum), though not in bloom, were green and they are considered an ANNUAL. As a matter of fact, I had remarked to the local nursery operator how nice they looked in the sea of brown that was my mowed area.

I suggested Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine), both of which reared their heads at the freeze and laughed loudly. The birds are feeding off of the berries of these two choices regularly.

Recommended for wildlife: DAHOON HOLLY Learn more about this ... on Twitpic

As a side note, shortly after the freeze I headed out to Maple Street Natives in West Melbourne, Florida (http://www.maplestreetnatives.com/) to shop for a tree to be planted in honor of Florida Arbor Day which was January 15th this year. I purchased a Red Cedar and planted it the next day (January 16th). I also bought some Twinflower, Ironweed and Horsemint all of which looked healthy enough at the nursery, so appeared to make it through the colder times. They are in the ground and seemingly happy.

My Bidens alba (Spanish Needles) are not cold tolerant and died back completely, but have already started to show signs of renewed life from the vast amounts of seeds they spew forth. Not every native is cold tolerant, but if they are recommended for your zone, they will come back. The Fogfruit (or Frogfruit) (Phyla nodiflora) was unaffected and I already saw Phaon Crescent butterflies fluttering around. These tiny beauties use it as their host plant, as do White Peacock Butterflies.

Another native, often considered by some to be a weed, hasn't bloomed yet, but the green and red tinge of its leaves indicates that it won't be long...that is Wild Geranium or Cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum). The butterflies will use this low grower for nectar.

There still is a smattering of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) that is in bloom and I spotted some Yellow Stargrass (Hypoxis juncea) and Toadflax (Linaria sp.) beginning to blossom so the Little Metalmark, Common Buckeye and Sulfur butterflies who are already making an appearance have some nectar sources.

Life is returning after our dreaded hard freeze...and the native plants stood up boldly to it.

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