A tall sentinel, watches over the wetland, showing its flowers.

Corkwood, Stillingia aquatic, is an established and well respected resident of the Florida wetlands.  A perennial, Corkwood is a single stem woody shrub that grows to five feet in height.  Branches gather at the upper part of the main stem. The stem and branches are of a reddish purple color. Branches have a whitish coating that presents a cork like appearance.

Leaves are lance shaped, long and narrow, usually about 3 to 5 inches in length. Leaf margins are slightly toothed.  Leaves grow alternately on the branches but, not on the main stem.

Tiny flowers of about 1/8 inch in diameter appear in a terminal spike at the tips of the branches.  With this species there are male flowers and female flowers. There are no petals with these flowers, only sepals.  Three for the female and two for the male. Sepals are simply a flower bud turned inside out. Flower colors are green, yellow, or red. Male flowers with only male sex organs are positioned at the top of the spike. Females with their sex organs are located below.

Corkwood is found in marshes, pond margins, ditches and canals. The specimen in this picture was taken in the Okaloacoochee Slough in Hendry County.


Dorothy Rodwell