Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wildflower Scouting Trips Uncover a Mystery Plant

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wildflower Scouting Trips Uncover a Mystery Plant

Article excerpt

Byline: Beverly Fleming

It started out as a scouting trip and quickly turned into a mystery.

My friend AyoLane, a ranger at the University of North Florida, and I started out on a recent sunny morning in search of some of our favorite seasonal native plants. At one point, we visited Princess Place Preserve, just across the line in Flagler County, and viewed passion vine with several fruits in evidence. While searching a particular sandy area for the basal leaves of sweet smelling vanilla plant, we came across a vine with an exquisite seed head resembling a tiny feathered turban. I could not identify this particular plant.

This was a true mystery plant, so I collected a leaf and one seed to press until I could get to my computer or a more complex guide, as my field guide didn't give me any answers.

I will describe the plant and area where it was found. See if you can guess the identity of our mystery plant:

This plant is a vine. The stem is small and wiry, very dark in appearance, about 7 feet long. The leaves of the first one we found were alternate, simple, ovate but some were divided with a thumb and others were divided into three sections. The underside of the leaf was slightly quilted. On the second plant the leaves were smaller, more pointed and opposite, indicating they might be two different members of the same family.

The seed heads were unique. Seven seeds were firmly clustered in a ring around a stem. Each seed has a fine plume extending from the tip of the seed. This plume looked exactly like a miniature feather. Each feather extended out, curved slightly to the left and came back in with all the points nearly meeting at the center. It resembled a tiny feather turban.

On the second plant, the seed head had all the plumes somewhat jumbled, making it look more like a globe such as dandelion would have. …

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