Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Trees: St. John's-Wort-Vanishleaf
St. John's-Wort: Members of the St.-Johns-wort family (family Hypericaceae)  includes about 800 species of herbs and shrubs. These plants traditionally gathered on St John's eve to ward off evil.

5 petaled coastal plain St. Johns wort flowerCoastal plain St. John's-Wort
  (Hypericum brachyphyllum)-  Coastal Plain St. Johns wort, is a  shrub of the genus Hypericum. Its duration is perennial which means it will grow year after year. The coastal plain St. John's wort is distinguished from other plants in the family by it's five petal yellow flowers and it's long thin leaves. It is an erect, single stemmed shrub that can reach a height of  around 48 to 42 inches, though it is often much shorter. Often found on pond edges, wet flatlands and ditches throughout the Florida peninsula, the coastal plain St. John's wort does well in sandy sites.

graceful four-petal St. Johns wort found through out FloridaFour-petal St. Johns Wort  (Hypericum tetrapetalum Lam.)- The leaves of the Four-petal St. Johns Wort  have numerous translucent dots, and when held up to the light they appear as tiny pinholes. This is a small shrub with few  branches. The Four-petal St. Johns Wort has beautiful yellow flowers. and the shrubby St. Johns wort is one of the most popular. Lustrous blue-green leaves are the backdrop for bright yellow 1 inch flowers that make their appearance from June through September. Thick light brown stems peel on older plants to expose a pale orange coloring. It's a wonderful addition to any summer or winter garden.

yellow-flowered roundpod St. Johns wort found near Florida swamplandsRoundpod St. John's-Wort  (Hypericum cistifolium Lam)- Roundpod St. John's wort is found in wet flatwoods, cypress swamp margins, and marshes. It is frequent nearly throughout the state of Florida and blooms in the summer. Roundpod St. John's-Wort is located in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North & South Carolina, and Texas. The plant is an upright, slender perennial; up to two feet tall with leafless flower branches arising from the top of the stem in a dichotomous (forked or divided) fashion. Preferred habitat is bogs, margin of swamps, flood plains and wetlands.

blooming peelbark St John's wort, found on Florida coastlinePeelbark St. John's-wort  (Hypericum fasciculatum Lam)-Peelbark St. John's-wort is found in wet flatwoods, bogs, and swamp and pond margins. It is common throughout the state of Florida and blooms from spring to fall.  This native, evergreen shrub, which grows to 3 feet tall, with narrow growth form, has leaves that are ovate, clasping, and heart-shaped at base.


floridian swamp cyrillaSwamp Cyrilla  (Cyrilla racemiflora)- The swamp cyrilla is a simple evergreen. Sometimes referred to as Leatherback, because of it's leathery bark, it has 21/2 to 3 inch leaves that are shiny green above and paler on the underside. The bark is initially smooth but can become ridged and spongy on large stems. Swamp Cyrilla has small white flowers that occur in narrow, elongated clusters 3-6 inches long, that appear in the early summer. Swamp Cyrilla is a small tree that can reach up to 30 feet tall, with a spreading crown, that often forms dense, impenetrable thickets. Swamp Cyrilla fruit matures in early fall, and persist well into the winter.

stunning tarflower, found in FloridaTarflower (Bejaria racemosa) -Tarflower is a woody shrub with fragrant, showy flowers found in the scrub and flatwoods of three southeastern states: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. The nectar in the tarflower flowers is a food for butterflies. The sticky flowers trap flies and other insects, giving tarflower its common name. Tarflower is an upright, evergreen shrub that often grows in colonies. It has crowded alternate leaves and showy, long-petaled flowers. Tarflower is a shrub that can grow 7' or taller. It has a few upright branches and often forms dense colonies by root sprouting.  The leaves are simple, alternately spiraling, and persistent. They are usually 1" to 2" long, " to 1" wide, and elliptic to ovate in outline. The whitish green to pinkish upper leaf surface is waxy with a whitish mid-vein and the lower leaf surface is duller light green. The flowers are white to pinkish, fragrant, and sticky and have 6 to 7 petals. Tarflower blooms from April to September.

vanishleaf flower from vanishleaf tree in FloirdaVarnishleaf  (Dodonaea viscosa ) -The varnishleaf is a Native small tree or more commonly a shrub to 10 feet high, occasionally taller with reddish, slightly furrowed bark. Leaves are stiff, alternate, and egg-shaped  with the narrower end at the base. they are shiny yellowish-green and sticky, and are 3-6 inches long. Varnishleaf is also known as Florida hop bush and is suitable as a specimen, screen or as a hedge plant when spaced 5 - 8 feet apart. Normally this tough native has very few or no pests or problems, avoid overwatering. The vanish leaf does best in full sun with well drained soil.  It is often found in Florida hammocks. The resinous coating on the leaves makes for a very drought tolerant plant once established, and is also salt spray resistant.
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