“April Flowers Bring May Flowers” at SORCA

Just a few steps from the eastern entrance to the south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA), you will find tarflower (Bejaria racemosa), shown above, full of pinkish white flowers. Its flowers are held in racemes, clusters of flowers that open from the bottom to the top. The undersides of the petals are sticky, a defense against insects like ants that might come to “rob” nectar without providing pollination services. Tarflower is limited to peninsular Florida and flowers in the spring in dry flatwood communities.

Nearby Florida sensitive brier (Mimosa quadrivalvis var. floridana) was full of 1/4″ round pink flowers that attract small pollinators. Note the recurved spines that festoon this sometimes woody vine that climbs over other plants and flowers throughout the year. Its leaves fold up when touched, giving rise to its common name.

Shown above is coastalplain staggerbush (Lyonia fruticosa), shrub or small tree of xeric scrub and flatwoods of similar stature to tarflower. Its white or cream colored flowers are urceolate (urn-shaped), and new growth often, but not always, covered with rust colored fuzz. Love vine (Cassythia filiformis), a parasitic vine, wraps itself around the coastal plain staggerbush and is festooned with the beginnings of white fruits that are spread by birds.

Tarflower, Florida sensitive brier, coastalplain staggerbush, and love vine are faithful to xeric flatwoods and scrub. Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), by contrast, is found in xeric flatwoods, scrub, and other places including right along Oslo Road. This member of the pea family, Fabaceae, is buzz pollinated by bumblebees. An annual, it blooms thought the year, and its seeds are consumed by granivorous (seed-eating) birds including quail which European explorers mistook for partridge.

 

The significant spring rains of May — not April — have brought forth lots of wonderful wildflowers and, unfortunately, lots of weeds, too.