Nodding Pinweed

61

A shy green flower rises above the dry heat, a sign of living.

Florida’s scrub country is hot and dry.  It is the home to pines, rosemarys and dwarf oaks that have adapted to this inhospitable habitat. The scrub is also home to a number of plant species that are endemic to Florida, endangered and rare. The Nodding Pinweed, Lechea cernu, is not rare but, it is endemic to Florida and listed on the State endangered list.  A herbaceous perennial, Cernua, barely reaches a foot in height. Growing from a fibrous root system buried in the sand is a single erect reddish stem with some branching at the top.

Leaves (a little less than ½ inch in length) are elliptic in shape with a pointed tip that points upward. The leaves are a dark green on top and light green on the bottom. Leaf margins are smooth but the leaves and the stem are pubescent (covered with tiny hairs).  Leaves are arranged alternately on the stem and branches.

Flowers are not at all showy.  They are also difficult to see.  At the tip of each branch are tiny flowers with three green petals that are surrounded by leaves. To find the flowers you have to peel back some leaves.  Cernu will not win any awards at a flower show. It is, however, happily growing all over the pine scrub at the Koreshan State Park.  Cernua is found in a few central and southern counties including Lee.

 

Dorothy Rodwell