December Wildflowers – Key West 2018

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

I love living in a place where I can find new (to me) wildflowers blooming for Christmas. December not only added nine more species to my repertoire, but kept several of my faithful fall favorites in bloom.

Here’s my roundup of all the wildflowers that I found blooming in Key West during the month of December. Click on the common names to visit the individual species’ pages.

Bushy seaside oxeye

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Borrichia frutescens

All the field guides I’ve looked at show bushy seaside oxeye blooming in full glory with a thick rim of ray flowers and topped with black anthers, but I most often see it sporting few, if any, ray flowers.

Borrichia frutescens flower bud and leaf in profile
Borrichia frutescens with only disc flowers
Borrichia frutescens flower with new ray flowers
Borrichia frutescens with reflexed ray petals
Borrichia frutescens gone to seed

Find more info here.

Brazilian jasmine

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Jasminum fluminense

Previously, this invasive plant was recognized as one of two different species in Florida, (J. azoricum and J. bahiense) based on minor appearances and geographic distributions, but the current accepted name is Jasminum fluminense.

Black nightshade

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Solanum chenopodioides

Black nightshade (Solanum chenopodioides) growing curbside in Key West. The features that differentiate it from other nightshade species:

  • all surfaces with simple hairs
  • no stellate hairs
  • no prickles
  • black fruits when ripe

Find more info here.

Tearshrub

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Vallesia antillana

An endangered species in the Florida Keys, this individual is being nurtured by the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden. Someday, I hope to find a wild specimen.

Find more info here.

November Wildflowers in Key West – 2018

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Click on the flower names at the bottom of this post for more images and links to species information.

Nettleleaf Porterweed

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Stachytarpheta cayennensis

Formerly known as Stachytarpheta urticifolia. Find more info here.

Stachytarpheta cayennensis flower flat front view

Stachytarpheta cayennensis flower side view

Stachytarpheta cayennensis leaves showing the “quilted” (bullate) appearance

Bitter melon

Key West Field Guide, vegetable

Momordica charantia

Find more info here.

Momordica charantia female flower

Momordica charantia new flower bud

Momordica charantia day old female flower

Momordica charantia leaf

Momordica charantia fruit with insect tunneling evidence

Momordica charantia fruit showing seeds

Momordica charantia empty fruit husk

Momordica charantia flowers

ru•der•al:

vegetable, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(adj.) growing in disturbed areas, on waste ground, or among rubbish

I live on a 2×4 mile chunk of dead coral that protrudes only 18 feet above the ocean. The cost of living is exorbitant and the competition for housing is fierce- for both people and plants. Many of our most common wildflowers aren’t much different than the humans in Key West- we both put a lot of effort into living in paradise.

de·his·cence

vegetable, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(n.) the spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant structure, such as a fruit, to release its contents

IMG_2417

I’ve always considered myself more of a bee than a squirrel – it’s the flower, not the fruit, that catches my eye. With this plant, however, everything BUT the flower shouts out for attention.

io moth caterpillar showing anal and abdominal prolegs

ap·o·se·mat·ic

animal, vo•cab•u•lar•y

(adj.) conspicuous and serving to warn

It never fails – find a hairy caterpillar with kids and they always claim that it’s “the one that stings!” To be fair, this one was virulently green with black-tipped spines and a bold red stripe- it certainly looked a bit dangerous. Never having met this beauty before, however, I decided to test the theory.

Unidentified wildflower #2

Key West Field Guide, vegetable
Still working on identifying this one. Please comment if you have any ideas. I know it is in the dayflower family, but it doesn’t have the translucent lower petals of Commelina erecta, but I didn’t get a good enough picture of the other parts to narrow the ID down. Luckily, I can revisit this plant tomorrow.