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Spring Blooming Natives

 

 

by Sharon LaPlante

TREES

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) is a small deciduous tree reaching a mature height of 24 feet. Showy, purplish colored, flowers appear in the spring before the leaves emerge. The leaves are alternate, simple, entire with cordate bases (which give them a heart shaped appearance). The fruit is a flattened, oblong, pod. The seeds are eaten by some wildlife. It is found in woodlands and along roadsides. It grows in full sun to part shade with average moisture.

Cornus florida (Dogwood) A deciduous tree reaching a mature height of 40 feet. Large white flowers appear in the spring - the white part of the flower is actually the leaf bract. The leaves are opposite, entire, and broadly elliptic. The seeds are eaten by songbirds. It is found in woodlands and roadsides. It grows in part shade with average to moist soils.

Prunus serotina (Black Cherry) is a large deciduous tree reaching a mature height of 90 feet. The small flowers, in drooping racemes, appear in the spring. The leaves are alternate, simple, elliptic, glossy green, with serrate margins. The leaf tips and petioles are glandular. The fruit is a small, shiny, purple-black drupe. The fruit is eaten by a variety of wildlife. It is found in woodlands and fence rows. It grows in part shade to full sun with average moisture.

Prunus umbellata (Flatwoods Plum) is a small deciduous, single trunked, tree reaching 20 feet in height at maturity. The flowers are white, five petaled and generally emerge before the leaves. The leaves are alternate, simple, oval to elliptic with serrate margins. The leaf tips do not have glands. The small (red to purple) plums are eaten by a variety of wildlife. The plums are edible, but sour. It is found in all of Florida in hammocks, pinelands, and coastal scrub. It grows in part shade to full sun with average moisture. Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw Plum) is very similar except that it forms thickets and has glandular leaf tips, and is not documented for Hernando County.

Vaccinium arboreum (Sparkleberry) is a deciduous tree reaching 27 feet in height at maturity. Its small leaves are simple, alternate, round to oval, with mostly entire margins. The small fragrant, urn shaped, flowers appear in the spring. The flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies and other insects. The fruit is a black edible berry, and is used to make jellies and jams. The berries are eaten by a variety of wildlife. It is found in upland mixed forests, oak scrub, sandhills and coastal hammocks

SHRUBS

Rubus argutus [syn. R. betulifolius] (Highbush blackberry) is a perennial shrub with prickly arching stems that average three feet in height. The leaves are alternate, palmately compound, with toothed margins. The leaves of the main stem have four to five leaflets and the flowering and fruiting stems have three. The white to pinkish blooms appear in the spring and are a nectar source for butterflies. It is found along stream banks, the borders of swampy woodlands, cypress ponds, and fence-rows. The fruit is prized by wildlife and can be used to make jams and jellies. It grows in part-shade to full sun with moist soils. Blackberry thickets provide excellent cover for songbirds and other small wildlife. Rubus cuneifolius (Sand blackberry) is very similar to this plant except that it has white flowers and the undersides of the leaves are white and downy.

Rubus trivialis (Southern dewberry) is a trailing, sprawling, thorny, shrub with a habit more like a vine than a shrub. The flowers are white with a pink tint and appear in the spring, and provide nectar for butterflies and other insects. The leaves are alternate, compound, with three to five leaflets, and coarsely and doubly toothed margins. The leaves may be reddish in color. The 'blackberries' are prized by a variety of wildlife and can be used to make jams and jellies. Blackberry thickets provide excellent cover for songbirds and other small wildlife. It is found in moist to dry woodlands, pine flatwoods & fence rows. It grows in full sun to part shade with average to moist soils.

Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry) is a large deciduous shrub reaching 9 feet at maturity. White or pinkish, urn-shaped, flowers appear in late winter and spring. The flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies and other insects. The leaves are alternate, simple, elliptic to lanceolate, with finely toothed margins. The berries are black when mature and can be used to make jellies and jams. It is also eaten by a variety of wildlife. It is found in pinelands, swamps and bayheads. Vaccinium myrsinites and V. darrowii are lowing growing (generally two feet in height) varieties of blueberries that have small leaves and are found in pine flatwoods and sandhills.

Viburnum obovata (Walter's viburnum) is an evergreen shrub reaching 18 feet in height at maturity. The white flowers, in flat topped clusters, appear in the spring. The leaves are opposite, simple, with entire to minutely toothed margins (toward the apices). The lower leaf surfaces are covered with small brown dots. The fruit is a small black, oval, drupe. Songbirds eat the fruit and the foliage provides good nesting cover. It is found in flatwoods, stream banks, and hammocks. It grows in part-shade to full sun with average to moist soils.

VINES

Bignonia capreolata (Cross-vine) is a woody, evergreen, high-climbing perennial vine. The leaves are opposite, compound (two leaflets), oblong to lanceolate with entire margins. The large tubular flowers are reddish-orange and yellow and provide a nectar source for hummingbirds in the spring. It is found in woodlands, thickets, and floodplains. It grows in part-shade to full sun with average to moist soils.

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine) is an evergreen vine that climbs high into the trees. The leaves are opposite, simple, entire and lanceolate. Yellow flowers are tubular with flared petals, and appear in late winter and spring. The flowers are poisonous to pollinators. It is found in woodlands, pine flatwoods, and disturbed sites.

WILDFLOWERS

Linaria canadensis (Blue toadflax) is a perennial wildflower that tends to go unnoticed. The bluish-white flowers are very small and born along the tall slender stems. It blooms in late winter and early spring. Small linear leaves may be found on the lower portion of the stem, but the majority of the leaves are basal. It grows to about 20 inches in height. The buckeye butterfly uses this as a larval food along with other members of the Scrophulariaceae (snapdragon) family. It is found in disturbed sites, roadsides and fields.

Lupinus diffusus (Sky-blue lupine) is a perennial wildflower with (as the name implies) sky-blue colored flowers. The large pea-shaped blooms appear in early spring in terminal spikes. The leaves are ovate to elliptic with silky hairs. It is found in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and pine scrub. It grows in full sun with average moisture, but must be direct seeded.

Salvia lyrata (Lyre-leaf Sage) is a perennial wildflower with blue tubular shaped flowers. The flowers appear in whorls around a tall slender stem that emerges from the center of a rosette of basal leaves. The flower stalks are generally 24 inches in height. The blooms provide a nectar source for butterflies. Leaves may occasionally be found along the stem. The basal leaves are broad and may have splotches of dark purple in the center and along the mid-vein. The flowers appear throughout the year with the highest concentration of blooms being in early spring. It is found in roadsides, thickets, fields and disturbed areas. In the home landscape it grows in part-shade to full sun with average moisture.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Blue-eyed grass) is a low growing perennial wildflower with small blue flowers. The mature height of the plant rarely exceeds 20 inches. It may be small, but when it is seen en masse on the side of the road or in a moist field it is very striking. The leaves are grass-like. The flowers are star shaped and have yellow centers. It can be seen blooming in the early spring and fall. It is found in fields, marshes, roadsides and pine flatwoods. It grows in full sun with moist soils.

Zephyranthes atamasco (Atamasco Lily) is small white lily, about 8 inches in height, with linear grass-like leaves. The white flowers appear singly on slender stalks. It blooms in late winter, spring, and summer - especially after a rain shower. The plant is poisonous to livestock. It is found in moist meadows, fields, swamps and moist pine flatwoods. In the home landscape it grows in full sun with average to moist soils.

 

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All material on this site Hernando Chapter of the FNPS. The materials on this website may be copied and distributed without permission, provided that it is used for non-commercial, informational or educational purposes, and you acknowledge this site and the Hernando Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society as the source of publication.

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