Common Wireweed, Beach Botany


This week’s wildflower should be well known to those who have lawns on Fort Myers Beach.  The Common  Wireweed, Sida ulmifolia, is a woody multi-stem plant that grows from a thick and deep tap root. Ulmifolia is a mat like perennial herb that grows to about 3 inches in height and about 8 inches in width.  Alternate elliptic leaves with serrated margins grow densely. Leaves are 1 ½ inches long and about ½ inch wide at the base.

Usually, there are just a few flowers that grow in the leaf axils. The flower’s corolla  has  five petals that are of a faded yellow color. The top of the petals are slanted as if the flower is rotating. About two dozen stamens are at the center of the corolla. Inflorescence is solitary.  Blooming occurs all year. Tiny seed pods are found in the leaf axils.

Ulmifolia, growing in disturbed sites can reach a height of 3 feet. In the lawn, however, the low height of ulmifolia is generally due to lawn mowers. To remove this species from the lawn it is best handled with a shovel. Using a weed wacker usually winds up with a snapped monofilament line.

There are 12 all native species in the Genus Sida. The tall S. rhombifolia is happily growing in Matanzas Pass Preserve. The specimen in the photo is, of course, in my yard.


Dorothy Rodwell

Photo by James Rodwell