An Orange Blossom Special…

Florida is one of those states with an official state flower and also an official state wildflower. The state flower is easy to guess as citrus is the number one product of Florida and the Orange Blossom was designated the State Flower in 1903. I have fond memories of pulling oranges off trees and eating a few when I was building new homes in the Disney area. Many an orange grove fell to bulldozer and axe in those hectic days surrounding the Disney opening. The Orange Tree by the way is one of the few trees to have opening buds, mature blossoms, baby oranges, and ripened fruit all at the same time. Have you ever looked closely at an orange tree blossom?

The Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis, has five waxy petals with about two dozen yellow stamens and an intense sweet odor. Pollinators are bees, flys, and many other insects.

What about the “State Wildflower”? In the 1980’s, the Florida Department of Transportation decided to beautify its state and interstae highways with wildflowers. Among the many trial varieties, one prospered in the heat and humidity and, as a bonus, self seeded saving a considerable sum of money. To visitors and natives alike, the Coreopsis resembled the warm Florida sun and in 1993, the State legislature adopted the Coreopsis as the official state wildflower.

The Coreopsis or Tickseed as adopted by Florida.

There are a dozen varieties of Coreopsis in eastern North America and rather than choose just one, the lawmakers chose the species name “Coreopsis” giving Floridians several colorful variations of yellow, red, and orange as their state symbol. There even is a pink Coreopsis but I don’t think the legislature had that one in mind. In my native Indiana, we knew the Coreopsis as the Tickseed as late summer seeds stuck to your pants and socks when you walked across a field and they did resemble a small brown tick.

Coreopsis seeds.

The Coreopsis blooms all summer long and actually is a perennial so plants and sprouting seeds return early in the Spring. I used Coreopsis as a bright yellow contrast to a long retaining wall at my mountain cabin in north Georgia and despite the deep woods environment, they returned to welcome Spring and our family every year.

A dozen sunny Coeopsis smiling and welcoming you to Florida or your backyard wherever you are.
The Tickseed blends well in almost any landscape.

As we leave Florida, some of you may recall the lyrics of the Johnny Cash song – “The Orange Blossom Special”. Do you know what that was? As Cash sings “I hear those whistles blowin’…”, the first deisel locomotive rumbles by on its route from New York City to Sunny Florida.

See you at th beach!!!

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