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Here in Florida, we are known for our beaches, the unforgiving heat, beautiful weather all year-round, theme parks and many other things. But one other thing we should be proud of is our natural beauty, particularly the plants and landscape that surround us that we so often take for granted. There are many flowers that are native to Florida that we do not know of, and we should get to know what else makes our State so unique and beautiful.
1. Florida Tickseed
Our state wildflower, the Tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii), is a summer flower with tall, fast growing stems that terminate in yellow flowers with brown/black centers. They also form large patches by self-seeding, but will die in the winter. You can find them going up and down the Florida coastline, with their main growing habitat found in North and Central Florida.
2. Salvia Coccinea (Sage)
Salvia (Salvia spp.), (aka sage), has many bright colored flowers that bloom in the summer and fall. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies due to the sweet nectar it produces. Many species of salvia can grow as perennials (live up to two years or more) in the warmer climates but grow as annuals (only live up to a year) in the north.
3. Porter Weed
The Porter weeds Stachytarpheta spp.) come in many wide varieties of flowers, and they can be found not just in Florida but in countries such as Jamaica, Bahamas and other areas all over the Caribbean and Asia. The Porter Weed gets its name from medicinal properties bestowed upon them in the Caribbean and in Florida.
Some of South Florida’s native plants may not be as striking as some of their more exotic counterparts. However, some do possess attractive foliage, colorful fruits, or add a pleasing form or texture to the landscape. South Florida has a wide variety of native plants that are both attractive and useful as landscape plants.
The Marlberry (ardisia escallonioides) is actually a fast-growing, evergreen small tree or shrub with dark green foliage. Clusters of small cream-colored flowers make this plant an attractive sight to behold. The plant also provides fruits for birds. It grows about 10-15 ft. tall, although it can get as tall as 20 ft. They can be planted with other flowers and plants in the same space, creating a beautiful, scenic view of a garden or front yard. Their multiple trunks can stand out when trained well into a small tree and can be lighted at night, creating a magnificent display.
5. Jamaican caper
Another interesting flower native to our sunny Florida (Miami) is the Jamaican caper (capparis cynophallophora). Jamaica caper flowers are quite showy, with two-inch-long purple stamens and white anthers and white petals. The evergreen, glossy leaves of this small shrub are folded together when they first open up to give the plant a bonze appearance. They can be trained into small plants as well, working well in soils with good drainage.
The bougainvillea (Nyctaginaceae) is a popular, pretty-flowered plant here in warm Miami, Florida. Indeed, it is a popular ornamental plant that can be seen hung as a decoration in many south Floridian homes and gardens. Although native to South America (“buganvilea” in Portuguese and “buganvilla” in Spanish is representative of the languages spoken in this continent’s countries), bougainvillea is very populous here in Miami. Almost any and every house along the streets of Miami can have a garden full of bougainvillea and are probably the pride and joy of every abuelita. The fact that it’s a drought-tolerant plant helps it survive the harsh Miami summer months, making it the perfect hot season plant. Its long, arching thorny branches bear heart-shaped leaves and masses of papery bracts in white, pink, orange, purple and burgundy (oh, pretty colors)!
All of these flowers will add a beautiful exotic touch to any garden, especially if you live in a tropical climate as we do down here. Adding these flowers to your garden will add some spice to your life and make it a little brighter, and not just because of the various colors of the flowers. This is what makes Florida unique and beautiful – diversity!
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.