Out of the dry sand comes green tracks and a flower. Surprising beauty.
It was just two weeks ago that Dorothy and I packed our gear and headed up to central Florida to attend the 37th annual conference of the Native Plant Society at the West River Ranch in Polk County.
On our way to the ranch we stopped at the Lake Wales Ridge State Florida Preserve for a little walk. We wandered into the woods on a sandy trial. A few hundred feet in we noticed the trail was covered with half buried vines with tiny bell shaped white flowers. Narrow linear leaves about 1 ½ inch long were widely spaced alternately on a short stem of about 2 to 3 feet in length. Flowers were sparsely spaced on the stem in the leaf axils. Five white overlapping white petals made up the corolla with a slight tunnel at the center. The tunnel is occupied by five greenish male stamens and two female styles. Flower is about ½ inch in diameter. This was the first time we have seen this vine. But, of course, the plants in Central Florida are different then what grows in South Florida.
Upon returning home after a great conference, it was time to id the plant. The vine we found is the Showy Dawnflower, Stylisma abdita, a member of the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family. It is endemic to Florida and is both rare and endangered due to loss of habitat. It is found in few of the Lake Wales ridge counties and also in Collier and Lee county where we haven’t seen it. We better keep our eyes open and pay more attention to vines.