UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail: dfculbert@ifas.ufl.edu

October 2, 2003

Feature Article - for release the week of October 5, 2003

Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent

Time for Tickseed

Along the back roads of Florida, travelers may encounter many beautiful wildflowers. I recently came across a patch of brilliant yellow daisy-like blooms that erupted because of our recent rains. These wayside wonders are now recognized as a symbol of our Sunshine State, and offer a low maintenance alterative for both beauty and profit.

Florida has many well-known state symbols, but one of the more recent additions is the State Wildflower, tickseed, known by botanists as Coreopsis. Actually, there are 13 native species of tickseed in Florida, and any one of these can be called our state wildflower. Several other Coreopsis have been introduced into our gardens. But only two species of tickseed can be claimed as native wildflowers to the Okeechobee area, and these are only found growing in Florida. They are the focus of this week’s column.

According to University of Florida Extension Specialist Dr. Jeff Norcini, Coreopsis species are commonly referred to as tickseeds because the flat small seed-like fruit has two short spines that give it a bug like appearance. Tickseed flowers generally have eight showy ray flowers or "petals" that are usually toothed at their ends. With one exception, Florida’s tickseeds have yellow flowers.

Some Coreopsis are annuals, and others are perennials. They all form short clumps of leaves that grow close to the ground, and at the right time of year, the shoot up a flower stalk with many attractive blooms. The flowers can be cut and brought indoors. And outside, they are attractive to butterflies. After they fade, the seed are enjoyed by birds. As with most flowering plants, plenty of sunshine is needed to produce many colorful blooms.

 

The two local Tickseed species are the Florida Tickseed and the Leavenworth Tickseed. The Florida Tickseed species grows to two or three feet tall and blooms in the fall and winter. Our other native Coreopsis is a summer bloomer with a one to two foot flower height. Both have dark brown to black centers in the flower, which will give rise to the seed.

Our local tickseeds prefer moist pinelands and disturbed sites near ditches and swales, making them ideal for roadside planting projects. They do not do well if over-fertilized, and have few pests. Seed can collected and then be broadcast in suitable locations to establish plants where they are desired. But in more manicured Florida Yards, plants can be purchased and installed if an instant flowerbed is desired.

Plants and seed are becoming more available. A growers cooperative has been formed to encourage the marketing of these native plant materials. A group wildflower seed producers have formed a cooperative, the Florida Wildflower Seed and Plant Growers Association, Inc.

According to their website, they are cooperating with the marketing of wildflower seed and plants to supply the demand from the Florida Department of Transportation and other public entities that wish to beautify our state’s roadsides. A survey of growers shows that the Florida wildflower seed industry produced a measly 15 pounds in the year 2000, but production figures for 2003 are expected to exceed 4600 pounds on 135 acres. The demand for seed is still not being met, and presents an opportunity for those willing to grow wildflowers.

Research on seed production methods has been fueled by UF Extension Specialist Dr. Norcini and is also a product of the Florida wildflower license plate funds. As of last June, the sales of over 17,000 Florida Wildflower auto tags has generated more than a half million dollars for this work. The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs is also encouraging the sale of these increasingly popular specialty license plates and is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to get more seed into the hands of our road management crews.

If you need additional information on Florida’s wildflowers, or if you want copies of our Extension bulletins on this Sunshine State symbol, call or stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North. Our phone number is 763-6469. You can also visit our website at http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu and you can email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu.

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Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS /University of Florida. Christine T. Waddill, Dean.  Last update: 02/16/2004 .  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert  Hit Counter

REFERENCES

Norcini, Jeffrey G.  Coreopsis: A Guide To Identifying and Enjoying Florida's State Wildflower.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Florida Cooperative Extension Service  ENH 867.   8/2002.

Norcini, Jefferey G. Native Wildflowers -- Coreopsis lanceolata L.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Florida Cooperative Extension Service  ENH 147.   12/1999.

Norcini, Jeffrey G.  Seed Production of Leavenworth's Coreopsis Gainesville: UF/IFAS Florida Cooperative Extension Service  ENH 868  09/2002.

Florida Wildflower Seed and Plant Growers Association, Inc.  http://floridawildflowers.com/