Look closely among the wonderful sprays of wildflowers popping up this spring for another one of our favorites, Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis.) Native and endemic to Florida, Florida greeneyes are found in sandhill environments preferring deep sandy soils and plenty of sun.
In the aster family, Asteraceae, Florida greeneyes sports a pretty cool variation on the classic composite flower type. The flowers are surrounded by an attractive set of overlapping bracts that form a cup or plate like structure behind the flowers. The ray flowers are in a sparse ring around the disk flowers. The disk flower buds form the “green eye” in the center but eventually open to a bright cheery yellow just like the ray florets. Butterflies, bees, and other connoisseurs of nectar and pollen find the flowers of Florida greeneyes irresistible.
After the pollinators have finished their job, the bracts (involucre) almost form a plate on which the winged seeds are presented to the wind. Fortunately, Florida greeneyes spreads and propagates readily from seed so we only hope to see more of them as we continue our rehabilitation efforts in the sandhill!