Spring has sprung and Florida wildflowers are popping up along roadsides everywhere. Our state wildflower, coreopsis (or tickseed), boasts 15 drought-tolerant species, and one species (Coreopsis floridana) is only found here—nowhere else on the planet. Why the name tickseed? Because the hook-like seed tips can loosen and affix to animals, essentially causing a new garden to grow anywhere the seeds are dropped.
A member of the Aster family, coreopsis is considered a “composite” plant as the flower clusters are comprised of two types– the showy ray flowers we know as petals, and the non-showy disk flowers in the center. And oh, do birds and butterflies love it when you add them to your natural landscape (just so you know, they’re considered to be one of the best native wildflowers available for the Florida garden).
Most coreopsis species in Florida are either annuals or short-lived perennials and bloom from spring to early summer or into fall. Everything about the coreopsis varies depending on the cultivar you choose. Color-wise, there’s vibrant yellow, pink, purple and white. Size-wise, you’re looking at about two feet tall, although the height can vary drastically. Growth habit? That’s all over the place, too — from very compact to informal and sprawling (although all are well-formed and bushy).
There IS a way to enjoy coreopsis year round if you live in Florida and drive a car. Purchase an illustrated license plate and support native Florida wildflower research. If that’s not an option, then you’ll just have to wait for spring to see these brilliant beauties bobbing in the breeze again.