Hello, Wildflower Forum! I'm Melanie, moderator of the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds Forum. I'm always meaning to come over here and post, but I never seem to actually do it. You are one of the forums I "watch".
To give you some backstory, I'm friends on Facebook with the Florida Native Orchids page. It's pretty cool - if you're on Facebook, check it out. He does an annual walk over in the Christmas, FL (near Orlando) area and this year Mom and I decided to attend. We made four stops in all: two along Colonial Drive, then at Fort Christmas Historical Park, and then Orlando Wetlands Park. Side note: Mom and I went to Orlando Wetlands Park back in January with the Florida Wildflower Foundation. They had laid a lot of seed but they hadn't sprouted yet, so it was a lot of fun to see what it looked like six months later. Also, Orlando Wetlands Park is great for birding, if you're into that.
Our first stop along Colonial Drive was to see Scarlet Ladies' Tresses (Sacoila lanceolata). Fortunately, there were some businesses we could all park our cars at while we meandered through the flowers growing on the side of the road. We all rushed to see the orchids first.
This is some kind of Fleabane.
None of us seemed to know what this white flower was. It was growing along with some yellow flowers that I thought were dandelions, but maybe they weren't? I thought it was pretty though, so I took a picture.
I heard this called "Evening Primrose" but don't know the Latin name. Mom really liked it.
A few more miles down the road on Colonial Drive, we pulled over on the side of the road. Prem (our guide on the walk) had flagged and put tape around the plants in hopes they wouldn't be mowed down. They weren't! Here we saw a species of Calopogon, commonly known as Grass Pink Orchids.
We learned how the bees are attracted to the "lip" part and pollinate the flower. It's a little more complicated than that, but I forget all the details.
They grow right on the side of the road!
Prem also pointed out some Rose Pogonia orchids that had already bloomed in the area. He has a good eye. They always look like grass to me. Other species in the area were butterfly pea which was spotted by one of the other participants. Like it's name suggests, it's a host plant for certain species of butterflies.
There was a species of Sabatia growing in the area, but they were far taller than the variety I see over in Tampa.
Our official state wildflower, Coreopsis, was also present.
There was also quite a bit of Lyreleaf Sage.
No time to dally as we were on a schedule. Off to Fort Christmas Historic Park. This is actually a really nice place that I might have to revisit in the future. It has facilities, a visitor center, pavilions, and a sports field. There was a birthday party and a family reunion going on while we were there. Apparently, the family reunion and the Orchid Walk take place the same weekend every year.
The first time I found a Florida Butterfly Orchid, I was looking for Tillandsias (aka Air Plants). The most common one is Spanish Moss. So you look up in the trees and it looks like this.
Zoom in a little and you can see some Resurrection Ferns, and a Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis).
Okay, I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures of Butterfly Orchids.
And here's some Tillandsias in bloom.
But there was another orchid to be seen! Prem walked us over to a Red Cedar and told us to try and find what was actually a pretty large specimen of this orchid. After several minutes of us trying and failing, he took mercy and showed us the Jingle Bell Orchid (Dendrophylax porrectus (syn. Harrisella porrecta)). They get the common name from the seedpods that dangle. Also, Red Cedar is a favored plant for them to grow on so keep your eyes open. Also, I think Prem said these bloom in August.
Hey, Mom made it in the picture!
Then, it was off to Orlando Wetlands Park! It's actually a giant wastewater facility, but you get the side benefit of lots of flowers, birds, and other wildlife.
As expected, there are lots of water plants or plants that like wet feet like these Canna Lilies.
Something in the Morning Glory family?
I love Pickerel Weed.
This is Carolina Petunia, a native I grow in my own yard because it's a host plant for the Buckeye butterfly. It was growing all over the place here, but mostly in the shade. One lady said it was nearly invasive in her yard, but I haven't had that problem. It does self-seed, but I like the volunteers. It's nothing I couldn't pull out in a few hours.
I'm not going to lie - at this point I was really feeling the heat. But I think that's a Butterfly Orchid on top of the Tillandsia. And I think that's a bud on it.
Bacopa, or Water Hyssop. A host plant for the White Peacock butterfly. I don't know a lot of plants, but I know host plants!
There's a Greenfly Orchid in with that Tillandsia.
Yellow Star Grass which is I think is in the Lily family. Mom liked this one, too.
Fewflower Milkweed. This is the first native milkweed I've seen in the wild!
No idea, but I liked it.
There was a lot of Water Hemlock which is a good host plant for the Black Swallowtail, but very poisonous to humans. There's more Pickerel Weed in there, too.
And back at the visitor center, there was Passiflora incarnata with a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on it.