Weeds (or Wildflowers) of Wednesday: Lyreleaf sage?

Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) was in splendid flower at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (PINWR) along the mowed edges of the sidewalk trail to the Viewing Platform when we visited on  3-1-2018  and is shown below near the time capsule (under the rock).

This plant also grows profusely along Oslo Road and at the south labs at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. Often, it is inter-mixed with oakleaf fleabane (Erigeron quiercifolius.

Its spikes of pretty purple-blue flowers, especially in its shadier locales, can be 2-3′ tall.

Is it a weed or wildflower?

Of this plant, the Florida Native Plant Society website says, “If planning to intermix in garden or grass, be aware that this species seeds readily. It definitely does not belong in a manicured lawn”. It does belong decorating our un-manicured roadsides and natural wildlife refuges.

The species name, lyrata, means shaped like a lyre and refers to the shape of its basal leaves.

Lyres come in different shapes and so do the leaves of lyreleaf sage — as does the amount of maroon irregular markings on the leaves and the toothed shape of the leaf margins.

Like blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), which also re-seeds readily and is prevalent at PINWR, lyreleaf sage can be quite variable.

A member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, lyrefleaf sage has square (and hairy) stems and two-lipped flowers, which provide a convenient “landing strip” for bees, its primary pollinator.


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