Sidebeak Pencilflower, Beach Botany

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The Sidebeak Pencilflower, Stylosanthes biflora, is a member of the Fabaceae, (legume) family. A perennial species with erect and slender stems that reaches about one foot in height. Compound leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. Each compound leaf has three leaflets elliptic to lanceolate in shape. Leaflets are 2 to 3 inches long and ½ inch wide. Color is light to medium green. Margins are slightly toothed.

Biflora’s flower is the typical pea common of the Fabaceae family. Flowers grow in the leaf axils. Inflorescence is solitary. The flower is about ½ inch long. There are ten stamens that are not visible. Color is yellow with a reddish tinge. Fruit is a loment which is a pod of leguminous plants. When mature, the loment breaks up into two segments each with one seed. Blooming occurs spring to fall.

Biflora  is an upland plant that resides on sand hills, dry flatwoods and hammocks in the north and central counties. It also happens to grow in Lee County. There are only three species in the Genus Stylosanthes that grow in Florida. One species is not native.

 

Dorothy Rodwell

Photo courtesy James Rodwell