WHAT FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT IS BLOOMING TODAY?: COASTALPLAIN STAGGERBUSH (Lyonia fruticosa)
A member of the heath family. Important nectar source.
The pubescence has indicated functions (note: L. ferruginea is a close relative of L. fruticosa):
According to Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona:
An example of a plant that uses hairs to trap moisture rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea). These hairs give the new foliage a rusty color, hence the name. source: http://lyoniapreserve.com/lyonia8.htm
According to UF IFAS reportedly works to protect new growth from harmful insects source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp357
I discovered that it is a larval host for Prominent Moth Caterpillar (Datana spp.) when one of several shrubs was completely defoliated by the larvae, which would seem to discount the IFAS theory of insect protection.
Native American Ethnobotany for this genus: http://herb.umd.umich.edu/herb/search.pl?searchstring=Lyonia+fruticosa
Where does it grow in Florida? http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=679