UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service
458 Highway 98 North
Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578
Phone: (863) 763-6469
E- mail: email@example.com
Article - for release the week of May 8, 2005
Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent
Wildflowers Spring from Roadsides .
In many of our Florida Yards and along our local roadsides, spring has sprung into a white blanket of wildflowers. Recent callers and visitors to our office have asked about these wayside wonders. Our Master Gardeners feel it’s a good topic for this week’s column, and have been busy this week identifying these plants.
There are many white colored wildflowers in bloom right now. These colorful creations may be weeds in the garden or landscape, but in other areas they can provide beauty to the eye. Take a careful look and get to know these blooming beauties.
Clumps of Star Rush appear in wet spots throughout most of the southeastern US. This plant is one of the most common beakrushes found in Florida. Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
The flower clusters of Rhynchospora colorata have long white colored bracts and give it the appearance of a star. Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
of the plants popping up in area wet spots is called Star Rush or White top sedge.
This plant is one of the 2 dozen
beak rushes found growing in
While the plant itself looks much like a grass, it is actually a sedge, a kind of plant that is more commonly found in moist or wet soils. Common sedges found in lawns are often called nutgrasses. These plants are challenging to control with weed killers unless lawn watering is also reduced.
Star Rush (Rhynchospora
colorata) has 3 to 10 pointed white and green "leaves" at the
top. The "leaves" are actually large bracts that surround the less
conspicuous flower head, much like the familiar red bracts of the Christmas
poinsettia. The white bracts
attract insect pollinators, a rare habit among sedges, which are normally wind
This wildflower species can grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall in either full sun or partial shade. Another similar species, the Sand-swamp White-top, is a bit shorter, but it has 7-10 white bracts at the top of this grass-like plant. The real leaves arise from the base of the plant. In roadside settings, they are often much shorter because of mowing.
of its attractive characteristics, Star Rush can be used in water gardening,
and it has moved into areas as far west as
|Left: Clumps of Fleabane appear on local
Right: Early Whitetop Fleabane (Erigeron vernus) has skips in its circle of petals, and sometimes has a touch of pink color.
Photos by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
|| Left: Oakleaf Fleabane (Erigeron
quercifolius) has a fuller
corolla (circle of petals).
Right: The leaves have a lobed oak-leaf appearance.
Photos courtesy Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, USF
Another kind of white wildflower found popping up in patches has small round daisy-like flowers that are less than ½ inch in diameter. These plants have very small fibrous white to pinkish petals with a yellow center. They are commonly known as Fleabane.
there are seven species of Fleabane found in Florida, only two fleabanes are found in our area.
Look closely at the small flower of the Southern or Oakleaf Fleabane
quercifolius), and notice that it
has a full circle of the slender white petals. Early
Whitetop Fleabane (E. vernus) has a
similar sized flower head, but they have missing petals in the circle of
petals surrounding the yellow disc.
species of fleabane are known as hosts for thrips, and photos of this plant
often show it covered with aphids. Fleabanes
growing near vegetable crops can harbor these insects and create the potential
to help spread some plant viruses carried by these pests.
|Common Beggar's tick is a common weed in crops and pastures. Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS||Beggar's Tick produces lots of white flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Photos courtesy Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, USF||Bidens flowers give rise to sticker-heads of 2 pronged seed. Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS|
one of the most common white wildflowers in spring is another daisy family
member. While there are seven species of the Beggar’s ticks found in
However, the Common Beggar's-tick (Bidens alba) is in full force in our area. It normally has seven broad white petals with a medium yellow center. The diameter of the flower measures ½ to ¾ of an inch in diameter. The plant is an annual or short-lived perennial with a tap root.
The genus name, Bidens, means two teeth, and refers to the two horned seed that looks like a “beggar’s tick”. These projections can cling to passing animals and the seed are found on clothing after a walk through the pasture or flower patch. The seeds germinate easily, and can spread quickly - plants produce an average of 1,205 seeds per plant.
Beggar's-tick is a very common agricultural weed in
placed more information on our Okeechobee web page, http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.
If you need additional information on wildflowers, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us at 863-763-6469. Local
residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit
J. L. Imported Cabbageworm, Pieris
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