Fragrant Eryngo, Beach Botany

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Just a few weeks ago, Dorothy and I headed up to Highlands County to visit the 10,000 acre Kissimmee Prairie State Park. While walking on one of the many trails, we found a specimen of the Fragrant Eryngo, Eryngium  aromaticum, a member of the Apiaceae, (Carrot) Family. The species is a small herbaceous perennial 1’ to 2’ in height. An erect main stem branches in the upper portion of the plant. Leaves are alternate on the stem and branches. Crushing a leaf provides a fragrant aroma. Leaf shape is ovate 1” to 2 1/2”  long. Margins are irregularly toothed. Green colored flower heads grow at the tip of the branches.  Flower heads have numerous tiny florets. A ring of whitish pointed bracts subtend underneath the heads. The white bracts attract pollinators. The inflorescence is terminal. With maturity, the heads will become a whitish blue color. Head diameter about 1/2”. Blooming occurs summer and fall.

Plant distribution is frequent throughout the State. Habitats are pinelands and scrubby flatwoods. There are nine species in the Genus Eryngium in Florida. Two species are not native. The specimen in the photo was covered by a patch of  Wire Grass. To photograph the specimen, I had to remove the wire grass which resists being pulled up.  So I had to do a lot of cutting and clearing in a wet soil. Flower hunting is fun.