Florida offers up a plethora of blooms
Despite the heat, I have been out botanizing most days, sometimes going far afield. I stop often to photograph blooms along roadsides and in ditches, which, this year, are still wet after our El Nino winter.
Over the years, I have noticed that on each excursion, one or two species of flowers predominate. And despite the warming trend, which has altered bloom times, I can still expect certain flowers at certain times of year in certain places.
Recent visits to three different habitats — a marsh, pine flatwoods and Florida’s desert, the scrub — bore out my observation. Along State Route 70, east of Sarasota, thistle was taking over soggy fields and roadsides. Further north at Connor Preserve in Pasco County, I found masses of it along a lake. Orchids — in this case, grass-pinks — appeared in Levy County in central Florida on the edges of wet pine flatwoods, which had been burned recently.
In Florida, fire is as vital to the health of an ecosystem as sun and rain.
On the Lake Wales Ridge in the center of the state, prickly pear cactus was blooming in the sand pine scrub along with Alicia, a species endemic to Florida.
All of these wildflowers may persist into summer and even into fall, but in springtime, they are usually a sure bet. Still others, like dayflower, bloom most of the year, but the individual blooms last just one day!
Who is the fairest of them all? Leaning in for a close-up, I will think,“ This is the one! This is my favorite wildflower!” Then fickle soul that I am, a few minutes later, a different one appears to steal my heart.