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Outdoor Learning: Name these Florida natives

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By DIANE STRAUSER ALVAREZ, Master Naturalist and Camp Bayou Supporter

Here are some common, native plants you can see at Camp Bayou and any natural yard or preserve in Central Florida. See if you can match the name to the plant. Frogfruit has more than one common name, but all plants are identified precisely by their scientific name. Use the descriptions and photos as clues.

A:  Frogfruit or matchweed or Mat Lippia (Phyla nodiflora) 

B:  Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

C:  American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

_____  1.  You may notice this bush in the winter because it loses all its leaves. The leaves come first in spring and then the tiny lilac flowers. The green berries ripen in the fall and turn a bright magenta. Then it truly lives up to its name. It provides food for wildlife.

_____  2.  You will find this ground cover in almost any St. Augustine grass. In the lawn books it is considered a weed, but it is instead a wonderful butterfly plant. It is a larval plant where the butterflies lay their eggs, and it has a tiny flower also. It is easy to miss this one, for we walk on it all the time—and no harm done.

_____ 3.  This is Florida’s most abundant palm even though it creeps along the ground rather than rising to the heights. It is not easy to transplant or propagate; but if you happen to live where it grows naturally, count yourself lucky. One neighbor of mine left a long row of it for a natural hedge. This plant represents the beauty of Florida that has not always been appreciated. It feeds the birds and the butterflies when it produces black berries and provides cover for wildlife.

This column is sponsored by Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center located in Ruskin at 4140 24th Street SE, 3 miles south of S.R. 674 off exit 240 W. on I-75. Email: campbayou@gmail.com or call (813) 641-8545 for more information.

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