Coatbuttons, Beach Botany

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White florets surround
Yellow curls in the center
A lovely design.

Coatbuttons, Tidax procumbent, (Aster family), is a well established nonnative wildflower on Fort Myers Beach.  It is a hairy perennial that usually appears along roadsides and in the lawns of many beach residents.  Coatbuttons is a small plant, usually no more than 3 to 6 inches in height.  One main stem with one or two branches grows from fibrous roots.  Ovate to oblong leaves with rough serrated margins and a pointed tip are arranged in pairs on the branches. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and about ½ inch in width.  There is considerable spacing between the leaf pairs.

The main stem is quite hairy and is usually leafless.  A single flowerhead is borne at the tip of the main stem. The flower head is composed of a disc with a few dozen golden florets.  There are four short creamy white ray florets. Each floret has three pointed tips. The flower head is about ½ inch in diameter. This species can be easily confused with the prolific Beggarticks, Bidens alba. Beggarticks, however, is a much larger plant with a lot of leaves and five long white florets.

Coatbuttons has some antiviral, antioxidant and antibiotic therapeutic efficacies, however, it is not cultivated and is listed in Florida as a noxious weed.

The specimen in the picture was not taken on the Beach. It was found along the edge of an orange grove in Hendry county.

 

Dorothy Rodwell