Florida Hammock Milkpea

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A shy pink flower, adorns a twisted vine mat waiting on the ground.

There was a lot of excitement recently in the Koreshan State Park hunting for the rare Curtiss’ Milkweed. Wading through nasty saw palmettos and tripping over dead branches was a lot of fun in the hunt for a species that did not want to be found. While having all this fun, I did note a little pink bean flower growing on a green mat on the ground. Since I had my camera, I took a few shots, and continued the scramble through the woods.
I learned that this little pink flower to be the Florida Hammock Milkpea, Galactia striata, a member of the Fabaceae (Bean) family. This species is found only in Texas and Florida. In Florida, striata, is disturbed in Pine scrub in seven gulf coast counties from Manatee to Dade. Lee included.

Striata is a vine that grows from a tap root. Stems grow out in a circle to about five feet in length forming a mat. Stems lay flat on the ground or climb over vegetation. Along the stem, growing alternately, are compound leaves with three elliptic leaflets. The compound leaf is attached to the stem by a petiole (leaf stem). At the junction of the petiole and the stem is the leaf axil. It is here that flower stalks bearing a dozen or so buds grow. When a bud opens, the inside of the bud becomes a four sepal green calyx supporting a typical butterfly flower colored bright pink to purple. Length is barely 3/8”. There are ten male stamens. One is free the other nine are fused into a column.

Striata is related to Downy Milkpea, Galactic regularis, a vine that grows in the grassy areas of Matanzas Pass Preserve.

 

Dorothy Rodwell