Yesterday and the day before I shared pics from our January 25 trip on the Silver River. Those posts covered the general paddle, turtles, gators, manatee, and monkeys. Today’s post includes pics of flowers.
Even in the winter in Florida you will find many flowers in bloom, especially along the rivers and streams. Here are some pics of some of the most common fall and winter native blooms that you are likely to see.
Pickeral Weed (Pontederia cordata) in spite of it’s name is a beautiful flower. This emergent aquatic plant is often 3 feet tall with a spike about 6 inches long full of small flowers. The flowers bloom in succession from the bottom up, so that the plant displays flowers over several days.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is native to the northern half of Florida. It is found in areas of shallow water that stay wet year-round. Flower stalks may stand 4-5 feet tall. Large numbers of buds are produced along the stem and flowering begins at the bottom and works its way to the top. Because of this, individual plants may be in flower for nearly a month.
Spatterdock (Nuphar advena) has large heart-shaped leaves that can be up to 16 inches long. The floating leaves are attached to long, fat stems which grow to over 6 feet in length. Spatterdock flowers are yellow and “half-opened” at or above the water surface. They are frequently confused with its relative the Water Lily, but Water Lily flowers open and Spatterdock remains a ball. The seeds are eaten by ducks and other birds, muskrat, beaver, and nutria will eat the roots. Deer also browse on the flowers and leaves. Spatterdock is also a valuable plant for fish and wildlife habitat. Its large leaves provide shade, hiding places from predators, and a home for many tiny invertebrates which fish and birds use for food.
Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens) blooms in the late fall as a deep bluish-purple “daisy” that fades in the sun. By winter time it is usually more white with just a tinge of pink or lavender. It is found all along the streams of Florida except in the western Panhandle and can create huge bushes of blooms.
Strap-leaf Sagittaria (Sagittaria kurziana) is a rooted submersed plant. This native plant is found throughout central and northern Florida. Strap-leaf sagittaria has dark green, ribbon-like leaves that are about three-quarters of an inch wide and are typically 2 to 3 feet long. Strap-leaf sagittaria flowers emerge just above the water, or lie on the surface.
Burr Marigold (Bidens laevis) is an emersed plant that produces flowers especially valuable to pollinating insects. Burr Marigolds bloom in late fall through early winter and occurs statewide in Florida in wet soil habitats. Individuals reach about 3 feet tall at flowering time and can spread into great masses of gold in wetlands and along stream banks.