Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Skyblue Lupine

Lupinus cumulicola
Text and photo by Roger L. Hammer 




From January to May each year the white sand scrub on the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Osceola, Polk, and Highlands Counties are adorned with the cheery blue flowers of the Florida endemic skyblue lupine (pronounced LOO-PIN). 

Some botanists consider it a synonym of Lupinus diffusus , but others argue that L. diffuses differs by its habitat, range, prostrate to decumbent stems, orbicular-reniform (kidney-shaped) standard, and a nearly straight beak on the pods. 

The stems of Lupinus cumulicola are usually erect with gray-green, silky pubescent, elliptic leaves that average 2”–3” long and about 1” wide. The pods have a curved beak.

Lupinus is taken from lupus, or “wolf,” and alludes to the curious belief that these plants consumed soil fertility, when, in fact, they improve the soil with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The species name cumulicola means “dweller on a heap or mound,” in this case, sand. It comes from the same root word for cumulus clouds that form billowing mounds in the sky. The seeds of some species were used in ancient Greece as a hallucinogen to psychoactively prepare people to commune with the dead.

The plant photographed was growing on a hill of white sand right alongside US27 in Polk County in mid-January 2015. When in flower, it’s hard to miss. Bees are the principal pollinator.


Roger is a member of the FNPS Dade Chapter and is currently working on a new Falcon Guide titled Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowers, due to be released in Spring 2018. His other wildflower guides include Florida Keys Wildflowers  (2004), Everglades Wildflowers (2nd edition, 2014), and Central Florida Wildflowers (2016).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Stimulate the Five Senses through Your Garden
Submitted by Jackie Edwards, Guest Blogger 

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden” (Robert Brault). 

Image courtesy of www.blogthecoast.com

Gardening provides many miraculous benefits for a child’s development including fine motor skills, math skills, responsibility, and science. Children that spend time outside are also happier as the landscape helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase attention. When combining gardening with the use of all senses, you can further increase the benefits.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Tennessee Leafcup

TENNESSEE LEAFCUP, Polymnia laevigata Beadle
Aster Family (Asteraceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer

Polymnia laevigata,  photo by Roger Hammer

The lower leaves of this species reach 6"–12" long and 4"–6" wide and are deeply and raggedly cut with pointed lobes, reducing in size up the stem with few or no lobes. The 3'–6' stems are glabrous (smooth). The flower heads are about ½" wide, subtended by a whorl of leafy bracts, and with 3-toothed ray florets and male disk florets.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Atlantic Pigeonwings

ATLANTIC PIGEONWINGS, Clitoria mariana L.
Pea Family (Fabaceae)
Submitted by Roger Hammer, Dade Chapter



The upper leaves of this vining species have 3 ovate to ovate-lanceolate leaflets that reach up to 2½" long and ¾" wide. The violet or pink flowers reach 2" long. A similar, related, endemic species (Clitoria fragrans) has narrower leaflets, sweetly fragrant flowers, and is known only from the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Orange, Polk, and Highlands Counties.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In Touch: Teaching children to value and respect the wilderness and the creatures that live there.

Submitted by by Steve Franklin, Guest blogger

I feel certain that, like me, most of you can recall more than one occasion when you didn’t explain your thoughts about a subject as well as know you can. I’m currently experiencing one of those moments.

On the day before Earth Day, a few other volunteers and I conducted an educational field trip event for the first graders from Lake Alfred Elementary School. My portion of the program involved taking them for a short hike on one of the trails at Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve, which is located in the City of Lake Alfred.

Throughout the hike, I was discussing map reading, hiking safety, trail etiquette, and what it means to be a good steward of the land. However, I’m not certain that I did a good enough job of explaining the importance of being thoughtful and considerate of others when we’re out to enjoy the clean, wholesome fun that nature-related activities provide. Did I instill in them a new appreciation of nature and a concern for its survival, which will encourage them to value and protect it well into the future? With this article I’m tossing the ball into your court in hopes that you’ll make up for my shortcomings by enthusiastically discussing these topics with your children or grandchildren.


When I think of trail safety, I’m thinking about the wellbeing of both hikers and all of the other mortal beings who occupy the wildlands that we visit. It’s not just about people traveling on foot from point A to point B without getting hurt. It’s also about respecting the homeland of the wild creatures that live in our forests, scrub habitats, rivers, lakes, marshes, and swamps. It’s about developing a love of Nature that beckons us to return to her over and over again. We should be there to enjoy and appreciate the benefits that large trees provide---cool air and the sound of hymns being hummed as the wind circulates among their leaves.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday’s Wildflower: Seaside Gentian


Seaside Gentian: Eustoma exultatum
Submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami-Dade Chapter, resident of the lower Florida Keys

Seaside Gentian, photo by Beryn Harty

The beautiful Seaside Gentian, Eustoma exultatum, is a herbaceous wildflower found in brackish to fresh wet coastal areas, and inland in wet prairies. The stunning flowers are usually a shade of light to medium purple with a dark purple center, but some flowers appear almost white with dark purple centers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Southern Beeblossom


Southern Beeblossom, Onenothera simulans

Submitted by Jean Evoy, a 30-year veteran of FNPS. She has been active in several chapters including Miami-Dade, Serenoa, and Mangrove.

Southern Bee Blossom flower, photo by Jean Evoy

Southern Beeblossom is a common wildflower of roadsides, fields, dunes and open woods in Florida.  It used to be called Gaura angustifolia, but a few years ago the evening primrose family underwent extensive revisions and G. angustifolia, was renamed Oenothera simulans along with several other species of that were included in the genus Gaura.