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February 8th, 2023

Tickseed – Small Wildflower, Big Impact

by R.S. Walsh

Tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii) is native Florida wildflower found in nearly every county in the State of Florida.  In South Florida this cultivar of Tickseed blooms year round with spring being its peak flowering season.  Tickseed has showy, yellow petals with a brownish center and the little flowers are about ½” to just over 1” in diameter.  The bright little flowers are perched on long, spindly stems with simple leaves, bringing all the attention to the bright yellow flowers as they wave in the breeze.  This plant is very attractive to butterflies and is easily adaptable to a wide array of growing conditions from dry roadway plantings to wetter areas.

The Tickseed is a commonly used wildflower found in the roadside median plantings along highways in Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) roadside right-of-way (ROW) wildflower program began in 1963 (FDOT). In addition to the aesthetic attributes of roadside wildflowers, FDOT noted that wildflower plantings would increase driver alertness, which can only help.

Another interesting fact about this particular Tickseed (Coreopsis), Leavenworth Tickseed was named after Melines Conklin Leavenworth (1796-1862) an amazing woman who was a Yale graduate, botanist, army surgeon and explorer. She collected plant specimens in the Southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America and eventually settled in Augusta, Georgia.  This little beauty was discovered by a very interesting woman and has been put on display up and down the highways of Florida.  Let it put on a show of its own in your own landscape.

This plant column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s garden center, located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Rd., Sanibel, Florida.

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