What September showers bring

A small field guide to East Lake campus

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Ella Whal

A small sampling of the types of flowers around campus—can you find any more?

Ella Whalen, Staff Writer

Amidst the sand spurs and shrubbery on school campus this time of year, you may spot a few flowers peeking their way out. If you wish to stop and smell the roses, daisies, or hairy pigweeds, it’s best to learn their names and get to know them a bit better.

Between buildings 3 and 9, there are a few patches of yellow flowers with ridged petals just next to some of the walkways (see upper left). These are Sphagneticola trilobata, commonly known as wedelia. Their similarity to dandelions is no accident—they both belong to the family Asteraceae, one of the largest flower families, which also contains daisies and sunflowers. Unfortunately, they’re an invasive species in Florida, and a tough one at that. They cover the ground quickly, leaving little room for native plants to grow.

A rarer sight in East Lake is Portulaca pilosa, also called pink purslane or kiss-me-quick, which are small magenta flowers that exist almost year-round in Florida (see upper right). Not only does its bright color make it distinct, but so do the hairs covering its stem. While you may only see a few around campus, be sure to leave them be. Though some gardeners consider them a weed, they’re actually a native flower to the southern United States.

Another native Florida flower is Sida acuta, or the common wireweed (see bottom left). This cream-colored flower is believed to originate in Central America, but is now spread across the world’s tropics. While not quite a weed in our area, the name is not entirely false, as they are an invasive species in Northern Australia. Fortunately for them, though perhaps unfortunately for us, they only bloom in the late summer, so enjoy them while they last.

A less traditional-looking flower you may see here is Mitracarpus hirtus, the girdlepod (see bottom right). Rather than a single large flower, its small white flowers come in bunches, with leaves growing directly beneath them. While prominent all over campus, their color and small size may make them hard to notice at first glance. Though their stems may grow tall, the thinness of the stems and the weight of the flowers tend to make them bend toward the ground.

The flowers around East Lake come in all sorts of beautiful shapes and colors. Next time you’re walking outside, try taking a look at the grass and see what ones you can find.