6 Selected Plants that Grow in my Yard

I live on the beach, or rather it used to be a beach 33 million years ago. Now, this location is about 128 miles inland. Nevertheless, the soil is still sandy, and ecologists classify it as a piedmont sandhill. Plants able to grow in arid sandy conditions thrive here. The co-dominant trees are sand laurel oak and loblolly pine, though I think long leaf pine formerly prevailed. I believe this area was alternately part of the long leaf pine savanna region that before European colonization dominated the coastal plain. The name of the road I live on is “Piney Grove,” indicating its original appearance. It was likely subject to frequent light grass fires. The soil is particularly sandy compared to much of the coastal plain, however, and the local environment may have been quite unique. Cleared lots soon get covered in sand laurel oak saplings, persimmon, sumac, sassafras, prickly pear cactus, and low bush blueberry. Many interesting herbaceous plants grow here as well. I stopped using a lawn mower over 20 years ago and instead use a scythe to keep vegetation in check. I selectively cut my yard and allow interesting plants to form patches. Here are 6 interesting plants that find refuge in my yard.

Florida pusely, a non-native species related to the coffee plant.

Florida pusely (Richardia scabra) is native to South and Central America and Mexico and is also known as Mexican parsley, though it is related to coffee trees, not true clovers which are legumes. Most google results for this plant suggest how to get rid of it. Some people demand perfect lawns. I’d rather have the pusely. It produces pretty white flowers that attract bees and butterflies, and the foliage covers the ground. Reportedly, it is edible, but I wouldn’t try it because it is closely related to a species used to induce vomiting.

Buttonweed, also a non-native species related to the coffee plant.

Next to a patch of Florida pusely is a patch of buttonweed (Hexasepalum teres), also known as poor joe. This species is also a native of South America and belongs in the coffee family. It has tiny blue flowers.

Trumpet vine.

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is a member of the Bignoniaceae family. Its flowers attract hummingbirds, but the rest of the plant is toxic to people and most animals. It is native to eastern North America and fairly abundant in my neighborhood.

Golden cottony aster is very abundant in my yard.
Bumble bee on golden cottony aster bloom.

Golden cottony aster (Chrysopsis gossypinus) grows on the edges of wooded areas and blooms from September to November. The flowers attract butterflies and bees, and it is so named because the flower buds resemble the buds on cotton plants before they bloom. It is a member of the aster family.

A big colony of evening primrose grows in my yard next to the road.

A long patch of evening primrose (Oenothern biennis) grows alongside the road on the front part of my yard amidst the Bahia grass. Every part of this plant is reportedly edible including the roots, leaves, and seeds. Evening primrose seed oil is thought to ease the symptoms of PMS, but pharmacological studies are so far inconclusive. Birds eat the seeds, and evening primrose is the host plant for 2 species of moth. Native-Americans used the plant as well. It blooms in June here, especially in the evening, hence the name. It is a member of the Onagraceae family and is found throughout North America.

I destroy sandspurs on sight. Nevertheless, I can’t get rid of them.

I destroy sandspurs (Cenchrus sp.) as much as I can, but I can’t get rid of this tough plant. The hairs on this plant cause annoying itching when they come into contact with human skin, and the seeds are encased in burrs covered with sharp spines that attach themselves to animal fur or human socks and shoes. I’ve spent much time pulling dozens of them off my socks, getting them stuck in my fingers instead. They fall off in the carpet where my bare feet step on them too. The seeds of this plant are spread all over by animal transport. This genus is so successful they are native to 4 continents. Reportedly, the seeds are edible, but may be infected with the ergot fungus–the kind that causes LSD-like reactions.


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