Here in My Florida Backyard, we're lucky to live on a stormwater drainage pond, part of a huge stormwater management system designed to prevent flooding and filter out contaminants before they can drain into the groundwater. This pond also adds a wetland aspect to our environment, bringing in wading birds, alligators, and water-loving plants we wouldn't have otherwise. We love to check out the shoreline for new sightings, like this cute little wildflower we found the other day.
We pulled out our Wildflowers of Florida Field Guide and found it on the first page of the "yellow flowers" section. It's Shyleaf (Aeschynomene americana), a native plant found in wetlands throughout Florida. It grows about 2 feet by 2 feet, in a rather feathery fashion that reminds us of Partridge Pea.
In fact, both Partridge Pea and Shyleaf are in the Pea Family (Fabaceae), as you can pretty easily tell by looking at the flowers, and by the fact that it spreads by seeds from pods. It prefers moist soil, so it's often found along the edge of lakes and rivers. As you might have guessed from the name, Shyleaf folds up its leaves when touched, and it's a host plant for the Barred Yellow (Eurema daira) butterfly, a fairly small pale yellow butterfly with a green caterpillar.
It's always fun to find a new plant in and around My Florida Backyard, and when it's a native wildflower, that's even better. When you keep your eyes open, you never know what you might find!