Wild Florida Photo - Melanthera nivea

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Melanthera nivea

SNOW SQUARESTEM

CAT'S TONGUE

Synonym: M. aspera, M.deltoidea, M. hastata, M. lingulata, M. parvifolia, M. radiata

Florida native

 

A perennial of moist to dry hammocks, flatwoods and beaches throughout much of Florida. The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from Louisiana to South Carolina, plus Tennessee, Kentucky & Illinois.
The rough branched stem is rough, 4-angled and mottled with purple, growing to 2 m (~6ft.) tall. Small, compact, rounded clusters of more than 20 white flowers with black anthers are on long stalks and can appear any time of the year. The leaves are opposite, rough and hairy, coarsely toothed, broadest near the base, often three lobed and long petioled.
Some experts consider all of the Melanthera in Florida one species - M. nivea - while others treat them as seven different species. If considered separate species, snow squarestem occurs in south Florida only near the coast, with different species (M. angustifolia and M. parvifolia) inhabiting inland areas.
This is a nectar plant for many species of butterflies.

 
Melanthera nivea is a member of the Asteraceae - Aster family.