Pinebarren Frostweed

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Frostweed hugs the earth, and yet the life force reaches below and above.

The Pinebarren Frostweed,  Heliathemun corymbosum, is another species that thrives in the sand hills and ridges of Florida’s scrub country. An evergreen perennial, Helianthemum barely grows higher than eight inches.  Originating from an underground rhizome, Helianthemum often  grows in mats several feet across. Leaves are linear about one inch in length and they grow in an alternate order along a reddish hairy stem. Leaves are also hairy. Their leaf margins curl slightly underneath. The hairs and the leaf curls assist in retarding water loss.

The flowers are either solitary or grow in a flat top cluster.  The flower’s corolla has five bright yellow petals that are flattened at the tips.  There is no tunnel in the corolla to house sex organs with this species.  A female greenish pistil that holds ovaries sits  at the center of the corolla. Other parts are a tubular style and tiny sticky appendages called stigmas adorn the tip. Surrounding the pistil are at least 14 male stamens.

Helianthemum is a close neighbor of the Rosemary plant, last week’s wild flower. With the Rosemary, Helianthemum lives in a community made up of Slash pine, dwarf oaks, carnivorous plants, and various species of St. John’s Wort.

The specimen in the picture was found in the Rookery Bay scrub.

Dorothy Rodwell