Jennifer Mason, Guest Columnist
Spring always reminds us of the hidden gems that lay dormant in the soil.
Our native species are colorful and so very beneficial for our pollinators that aid us in producing the wonderful vegetables and fruit this county and state are known for. Roadsides are one the easiest way to see them. We frequently see these displays while driving to our destinations.
Depending on if the area is dry or a wet ditch, the flowers will vary in timing and color. Right now, in the wetter places, you can see large patches of blue eyed grass, which is really a tiny iris; bright yellow Senecio or butterweed; and the lovely Zephyr lily. Pitcher plants and orchids start their show also. Many species of orchid call Jefferson County their home.
Our wild azaleas or bush honeysuckle is starting to bloom now. Many swallowtail butterfly species use these sweet smelling flowers as a nectar source. Look for pink or white clusters of tubular flowers on woody stems.
Watch for Red Buckeye too! Their showy red spikes are a favorite with hummers! These small trees are found throughout the county.
The Road Department is aware of the draw and beauty these flowers have. Their mowing schedules come after the bloom to help spread the seed and perpetuate the plants.
If you see a roadside that looks like it needs mowing, then it is probably an area where the seeds are maturing and ready to disperse.
In the garden I love these early spring flowers. Butterwort really puts on a show, attracting butterflies and pollinating bees. I have seen hummingbirds feed on the little Zephyr lilies.
If you have property, many of these flowers come up in your lawn or woods. They are not weeds! Give them a chance. If you are not sure what a plant is, get a good picture and email it to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to get a name for you.
Many wildflowers in this county are endangered or rare. Many are medicinal or essential for the life cycle of an important insect. Throughout the year, I will bring you stories and pictures of the wildflowers that grow here for you to learn about.
Jennifer Mason is a 24 year veteran massage therapist who works with Dr. John Mackay, MD in Tallahassee. Formerly, she was a native plant propagator for retail and wholesale nurseries for 18 years. She has lived in Jefferson County for 33 years with her husband. Their two daughters were raised on their property and are now grown, went to Florida State, and are gone from the nest.
She and her husband have over 70 acres of wildlands. They are committed to preserving this piece of climax forest in all of its diversity for generations to come. The place serves as an educational land for entomologists, botanists and enthusiastic people who love the plants and animals.