Florida False Sunflower, Beach Botany

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    This week’s wildflower, Florida False Sunflower, Phoebanthus grandiflorus, is a perennial herb that is endemic to Florida. Grandiflorus has a strange name for a species that is a true member of the Asteraceae family. Grandiflorus has an erect main stem that grows from a tuber that is buried in sandy soils. There is no basal rosette which is common to Aster species. The main stem reaches as much as 3’ in height. There are usually no secondary branches. Leaves are simple.  Linear to lanceolate in shape and alternate on the stem. Margins are entire. Leaves ¼” to 1 ¾” long and 1/8” to 3/8” wide.  Leaves are widely spaced.

    Yellow flower heads have the usual sunflower structure. About 14 to 15 lengthy and bent ray florets surround a yellow disk. The plant’s corolla rests on a easily seen dark green receptacle. Flower diameter is 3” to 4”. Flower heads bloom in leaf axils. Inflorescence is solitary. Fruit is a flat achene pod.

    Habitats are sandy pine woodlands and sand hills. Distribution are the counties in the central peninsula. The Genus has only two species. Aside From Grandiflorus there is P. tenuifolius, Pineland False Sunflower. The specimen in the picture was found in the Box Tower Gardens. The specimen  reminds me of a worn out wind mill.