Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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This large-leaved plant is widespread in wet places throughout the central and south peninsula, also extending into northeast Florida plus Dixie, Wakulla, Franklin and Gulf Counties. The range includes Alabama, Mississippi, West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America.
Flowers hang in pairs on zig-zagging stems, each with three purple petals and three small sepals. The flowering stalks of alligator flag can reach more than 3-1/2 meters (12 ft.) high. The leaf blades can be up to 30 cm (1 ft.) wide and 1 meter (~3 ft.) long and are attached at an angle to the petiole. This is the 'bent' in the common name and the species name, as geniculata means 'with a knee-like bend'. The tips of the leaves often reach from two to three meters (~ 6 to 9 ft.) high.
Florida black bear feed on the leaves and stems of this plant, also called fireflag. This is the only species of the Thalia genus occurring naturally in Florida.