Floridata Article

Wildflower Surprises

Gil Nelson, wildflower expert and author
Gil Nelson, wildflower expert and author, led a walk June 2007

Did you know that we have our own locally indigenous wildflower located in four counties here in northeast Florida?  William Bartram collected it and called it Ixia coelestina.  Botanists have decided that its scientific name should be Calydorea coelestina, so the common name is now Bartram's Ixia.  

In the iris family, this small flower thrives in fire managed pine forests.   The flowers open at sunrise and last about three hours. The species is rare, but not currently threatened and The Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and others enjoyed the field trip to see their namesake with Gil Nelson, author of Trees of Florida, Ferns of Florida, Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants,

If you're in Florida, find a chapter near you to participate in field trips, meetings, workshops and other educational activities.

Orchids in My Lawn

I went on the field trip to Jennings Forest to find the Bartram's Ixia, but I can find wildflowers in my lawn.  In these low water months when the lawn is hardly growing, and we're not mowing, I've found a bunch of ladies tresses (Spiranthes spp) poking up from the grass.

The little orchid flowers spiral up the stem, which all together make a nice show. The roots are fleshy tubers which increases the likelihood of their surviving the transplant process. That's a good thing, because in the process of extracting them from the St. Augustine, most of the soil was knocked from their roots.

Ladies in waiting. Photo by Ginny Stibolt
Ladies in waiting.

Ladies tresses, unlike Bartram's Ixia, are common and widespread, but that does not make them any less attractive. The other day I decided to transplant some of these beauties into garden and meadow areas so they won't get whacked off the next time the John Deere visits.  I thought there would be five or six, but once I got going, I found more than two dozen.

There's another fall and winter blooming orchid that I look forward to, the lawn orchid (Zeuxine strateumatica). While the ladies tresses are native, the lawn orchid is from Asia.  I have a photo on my meadow page.

When you let your landscape go wild, you just may find surprising wildflowers of your own

Ginny Stibolt moved to northeastern Florida in 2004 and even though she's a botanist and lifelong gardener, Florida gardening was a shock. She started writing The Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener columns for the Times Union newspaper in Jacksonville. This is one of those columns archived here on Floridata.com for your enjoyment. Now she's written three Florida garden books published by University Press of Florida: Sustainable Gardening for Florida, 2009; Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida with Melissa Contreras, 2013, and The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape, 2015. Check out her blog for the latest news and articles: www.GreenGardeningMatters.com

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