Carolina Wild Petunia

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Majestic purple, reigning in the springtime earth, meeting the blue sky.

Wild Petunias are now in bloom. Throughout the State of Florida, eight petunia species of the Genus Ruellia are opening up to flying insect pollinators.  This week’s wild flower is the Carolina Wild Petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis. Caroliniensis is the most common of the Ruellia species in Florida. It is found in wetlands and non-wetlands in most of the State’s counties.  A herbaceous perennial, with erect stems, can reach a height of about 3 feet. Elliptic to lanceolate leaves 2 to 3 inches in length grow in pairs along reddish and hairless stems.

The flower’s corolla has five petals colored pink to purple.  Flowers are bisexual with four white stamens and a single female style housed in a short tunnel. Pollinators, usually bees, crawl into the tunnel in search of nectar glands.  Flowers are about one inch in diameter. After pollination a fruit capsule with brown seeds forms.

Carolina Wild Petunia does not grow natively on Estero Island.  It does not tolerate salt. I have two specimens in my garden but, I keep them in pots to avoid contact with our salty sands.

Dorothy Rodwell