WHAT FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT IS BLOOMING TODAY?: COASTALPLAIN STAGGERBUSH (Lyonia fruticosa)
Beautiful shrub with bell shaped flowers. A member of the heath family. Important nectar source.
sometimes referred to as Rusty Lyonia.
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
Larval Host: Prominent Moth (Datana spp.) the larvae of which can completely defoliate, which would seem to discount the IFAS theory of insect protection. I have many of these shrubs and it seems that the caterpillars only affect one or two at a time. I handpick some caterpillars and feed them to the fish. The shrubs were no worse for wear in following years. My experience 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://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=679