Slenderleaf Clammyweed; Beach Botany


This week’s wild flower resides in the hot Florida scrubs and sand hills. Slenderleaf Clammyweed, Polanisia tenuifolia, is an annual herb that grows to a height of about 3 feet. A single erect reddish stem supports wiry multibranches in the upper portion of the plant. Compound leaves with three leaflets are alternate on the branches. Leaflets are narrow and linear. Length is 1 to 2 inches and about 1/8 of an inch wide. Margins are entire.

Flowers attached to lengthy reddish pedicles grow outward from leaf axils. The flower’s corolla has four unequal white petals. There are two large petals at the top of the corolla and below two smaller  petals. Coming out of the corollas throat are a dozen or so white male stamens with yellow pollen anthers. Stamens surround a projecting female style. Fruit is a capsule 2.5 inch in length. Blooming occurs spring to fall.

Tenuifolia belongs to the Brassicaeae (Mustard) family. It is the only species under the Genius Polianisia. Tenuifolia is distributed in the southern coastal counties including Lee County, the Atlantic coastal counties and a few central peninsula counties. The specimen in the photo was taken on a sand hill next to Box Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.


Dorothy Rodwell

Photo by James Rodwell