Experience the beauty and charm of Lake County's wildflowers. With thousands of acres of natural scenery, combined with six dedicated wildflower routes, Lake County is a wildflower-lover's paradise. No matter the season – summer, spring or fall – Lake County is one of Central Florida’s must-see destination for colorful native wildflowers.
What is a Native Wildflower?
A "Florida native wildflower" is considered any flowering herbaceous species, or woody species with ornamental flowers that grew wild in the 1560s as part of Florida’s natural environment when the state’s first botanical records were generated. This definition includes flowering plants and grasses that were introduced via travel and trade by Native Americans, prior to the 1560s, as well as wildflowers that were introduced without human involvement.
Suggested Driving Routes for Wildflower Viewing
Route 1 – This route traverses through the Ocala National Forest from State Road 19 to Astor Landing. It’s great for those looking to find "showy" natives such as swamp sunflower, cottonweed and purple lovegrass in the fall, or gayfeather and narrowleaf silkgrass in the summer.
Route 2 – Located east of the City of Umatilla in the northeast portion of Lake County, this route travels on County Road 42 to State Road 44, south to County Road 44A and north on County Road 439. Wildflower enthusiasts will be delighted to find natives like Partridge pea and Leavenworth’s tickseed.
Route 3 - Known to feature natives such as pricklypear in the fall and Florida greeneyes in the spring, this route is just east of the historic City of Mount Dora.
Route 4 – Situated in the center of Lake County, this route features a myriad of wildflowers, like starrush whitetop, giant ironweed and Florida betony. During the summer, this route also showcases the Scrub buckwheat, an endemic species that is on both the federally threatened and state endangered lists.
Route 5 – Located at the extreme southern end of the County on County Road 474 between State Road 33 and U.S. Highway 27, wildflower-viewers will be able to catch a glimpse of lizard's tail, elderberry or even tievine.
Route 6 – This route sits to the northwest of Eustis and encloses Lake Yale. It is the ideal viewing location for those seeking the beautiful bluejacket and heartwing dock, or the "showy" oakleaf fleabane.
Conserve, Preserve and Protect
Looking for ways to help protect native wildflowers? Wildflower-friendly mowing practices are a great way to preserve Florida’s wildflowers. Numerous counties throughout the state, including Lake County, have passed resolutions to increase awareness and protection of roadside wildflowers through reduced mowing programs.
Another way to help preserve Florida’s native wildflower population is to eliminate the introduction of invasive plant species, which can inhibit the ability of native plants to flourish. It’s also important to the delicate balance of native ecosystems to preserve pollinators and their habitats by limiting the use of pesticides and herbicides in gardens and landscapes.
For more information about Florida’s native wildflowers, or ways to get involved, visit the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s website at http://FlaWildflowers.org, or visit the Florida Native Plant Society’s website at www.fnps.org.
Native Wildflowers to Lake County
Lake County features a number of wildflowers that are limited to this region, or in other words, are considered endemic. These wildflowers have usually been isolated long enough to amass various unique characteristics.
Species of endemic wildflowers found in Lake County include:
- Curtiss’ Milkweed
- Florida Greeneyes
- Florida Lady’s Nightcap; Florida Bonamia
- Florida Bellfower
- Pineland Butterfly Pea; Sand Butterfly Pea
- Florida Alicia
- Pigmy Fringetree
- Sweetscented Pigeonwings
- Longleaf Wild Buckwheat; Scrub Buckwheat
- Celestial Lily; Fallflowering Ixia
- Feay’s Palafox
- Yellow Milkwort
- Largeflower Jointweed; Sandhill Wireweed
Protecting Native Wildflowers
Lake County boasts numerous wildflowers that are considered federally endangered or threatened. Endangered wildflowers are species native to a particular state that are in danger of going extinct. Threatened species are native to the state, and are in rapid decline; although the number has not decreased enough to cause them to be considered endangered.
Below is a list of federally threatened or endangered species of wildflowers found in Lake County.
- Britton’s Beargrass (E)
- Florida Bonamia (T)
- Lewton’s Polygala (E)
- Papery Whitlow-wort (T)
- Pigeon Wings (T)
- Pygmy Fringetree (E)
- Scrub plum (E)
- Scrub Wild Buckwheat (T)
- Wide-leaf Warea (E)