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Fall Flowers

South Florida may be hot and prone to hurricanes, but it has flowers in the fall while the rest of the country watches the leaves fall. Yellow being my favorite color, I have taken pictures of two of my favorite flowering plants to share with you. The first, Bahama Senna (cassia bahamensis), is the larval food for the cloudless sulphur (phoebis sennae) butterfly. Most folks that I know call the butterfly “yellow sulphur”, which, upon reflection, seems to be redundant, but it is so called
because there is a white variety of the cloudless sulphur, which folks call the “white sulphur”. I’ve heard that the yellow sulphur owes its coloration to the fact that the caterpillar mostly eats the flowers of the senna, thus coloring the butterfly. It may be that the caterpillar that develops into the “white sulphur” butterfly eats more leaves than flowers, thus causing it to be paler. The Bahama Senna plant is not common – it grows in the pine rocklands and on the edges of rockland hammocks, of which there is not much left in South Florida. It does not tolerate shade or salt water. It flowers twice a year – in April and October and it is a very showy plant. It requires no care and produces abundant yellow flowers. The flowers are about 1″ across and the shrub can get about 5′ tall and as many feet in diameter.

Bahama Senna.jpg

Goldenrod (solidago odora) grows all over the Southeast, so even if it is a fall flower here in South Florida, it is flowering elsewhere also. It is a perennial that grows up to 4′ tall and is rather aggressive, spreading rapidly. The crushed leaves have a strong scent of licorice and the leaves and the tops of the plants, picked when flowering, have been used to make herbal medicines to treat cuts and urinary problems. Formerly, the seeds were used to induce a delirious state of mind in surgical patients. The flowers also have been used to create a deep yellow dye for textiles. For those who love yellow, I recommend planting this in your garden.


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