In Northwest Florida the color of autumn isn’t just from trees. The reds, purples, yellow and white blooms and berries that appear on many native plants add spectacular color to the landscape.
American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is loaded with royal-colored fruit that will persist all winter long. Wispy pinkish-cream colored seedheads look like mist atop Purple Lovegrass, Eragrostis spectabilis and Muhlygrass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. The Monarchs and other butterfly species flock to the creamy white “fluff” that covers Saltbrush, Baccharis halimifolia.
But yellow is by far the dominant fall flower color. With all the Goldenrod, Solidago spp., Narrowleaf Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius and Tickseed, Coreopsis species, the roadsides are golden. Peeking out from the wood’s edge are the small red trumpet-shaped blooms of Red Basil, Calamintha coccinea and tall purple spikes of Grayfeather, Liatris species.
These are all native wildflowers that can be obtained through seed companies. Many are also available as potted plants at the local nurseries. Read the name carefully though. There are cultivated varieties that may appear or perform differently than those that naturally occur. in Northwest Florida. For more information on Common Native Wildflowers of North Florida go to edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep061.