Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Native Butterfly Attracting Plants (5)
Browse through our alphabetical list of native Florida plants that encourage butterflies into your garden, and find the perfect choices for your Florida butterfly garden! Plants that have an asterisk beside their name are especially high in nectar.

red chokeberry berries, a florida butterfly favoriteRed Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)- Red Chokeberry is a common upright, open shrub with white flower clusters in spring and red fruits in fall and winter. Two garden-worthy species of Aronia, Red Chokeberry and Black Chokeberry, occur over a wide range of Eastern North America, including Florida. Both are highly drought tolerant, fruitful and beautiful year round. In the spring they cover themselves with two inch clusters of tiny sweet scented flowers. Flowers are followed by lots of shiny green berries that mature over the summer, eventually turning bright red or black depending on the species. The bright red fruits last throughout the winter. By late fall, deep green foliage changes to a brilliant flaming red. Brilliant Red Chokeberry, is an improved red-fruiting cultivar. It's one of the few deciduous shrubs that can equal burning bush when it comes to great fall color.

redroot, a florida garden favoriteRedroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana)- Redroot has a large root, with a red or brown skin, containing many small, white veins. The stems are from two to four feet high, and slender, with many reddish, round, smooth branches. The leaves of the Redroot are ovate or oblong-ovate, and three veined, Redroot leaves are rather smooth above, with soft, reddish hairs beneath, and are often heart-shaped at the base. The flowers are minute, white, in long, crowded panicles from the axils of the upper leaves. Redroot is indigenous to the United States, and is abundant in Florida. Redroot grows in dry woodlands, and hammocks, flowering from June to August. The leaves are astringent and slightly bitter, and have been used as a substitute for tea, to which they have a strong resemblance when dried, both in taste and odor. The root is the medicinal part, and has a taste and smell somewhat resembling those of the peach leaf. It has been occasionally used for coloring.

spanish needles in south florida, with a visiting butterflySpanish Needles (Bidens pilosa)*- Spanish Needles seems to be a favorite nectar plant for lots of butterflies in South Florida. This native plant is a summer annual about 2-5 feet tall. The Spanish Needles plant is more or less erect and branches occasionally. The stems are green or reddish green, angular, strongly veined, and hairless. The leaves are mostly opposite; their blades are up to 8 inches long and 4 inches across, while their petioles are up to 2 inches long. The upper stems terminate in individual flowerheads on long peduncles. Each flowerhead is about inch long and inch across. Spanish Needles have  numerous disk florets in their center. The disk florets have corollas that are golden yellow and tubular in shape. The yellow ray florets are petal-like and are about 1/8 inch long and oval to oblong in shape. Some flowerheads may lack petal-like extensions of the ray florets altogether. The base of the flowerhead is surrounded by green bracts. The blooming period occurs during the late summer or early fall.

staggerbush, a native floridian plantStaggerbush (Lyonia spp)- Staggerbush is a much branched evergreen shrub with clusters of globular flowers. Plant twigs are the most distinctive feature as they zig-zag at each node. Its preferred habitat is wet thickets and swamps. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region of Florida. The leaves of the staggerbush are about three inches long; alternate on the stem; oblong to oval and finely toothed. The new leaves are small and scruffy, becoming smooth on the upper surface. The margins are entire and slightly rolled under. The tip is blunt. The mature leaves have lateral veins that are impressed on the upper surface. Staggerbush flowers are small; constricted at the tip, and pale rose or white. The calyx lobes are triangular. Flowers occur in early spring, but the shrub is known to flower in early summer as well. The Staggerbush fruit is a round, berry-like capsule persisting through the winter. These blueberry-like shrubs are frequently associated with wooded swamps. The genus name honors the early American botanist and explorer John Lyon, who died in 1818.

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