Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Honeycombhead - Balduina angustifolia

Honeycombhead (Balduina angustifolia) is common statewide in upland habitats; mostly scrub, sandhill, and coastal dunes.  This is a plant of the Deep South and is restricted to Florida and the states closest to us - Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. 
Honeycombhead is a biennial.  It spends its first year as a rather nondescript set of linear basal leaves (often with reddish stems) and only begins its rapid upward growth during its second spring.  By late spring to summer, this main stem may reach 4-5 feet in height, with numerous side branches near the top.  The lower leaves normally slough off while the upper ones remain green and linear in shape.  At this stage, it is not an especially showy wildflower. 
Flowering occurs any time from summer to late fall, but tends to peak in late summer.  This is when this species shines.  Large numbers of 2-inch-diameter canary yellow flowers are produced across the crown of each stem.  Both the ray and disc flowers are yellow and even when the ray petals wilt, the disc remains yellow for weeks more.  Like other members of the aster family, the flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
As the central disc flowers ripen following pollination they form a rather flat grayish and somewhat spiny "button" that looks a bit like a honeycomb.  This disc of ripe seeds can remain intact for months atop the dead stems and keeps the seed from landing earthward until conditions are more favorable for germination in late winter/early spring.
As this wildflower is a biennial, it is not easy to maintain in a typical home landscape setting.  I have had plants reseed in my garden, but it is not reliable except in locations that are open and sunny with plenty of bare sand.  Therefore, it is easiest to collect the ripe seed and sow it in potting soil; transferring the seedlings to your garden in spring.  Honeycombhead also is not the best species for small spaces.  Because of its height and rather untidy appearance when not in bloom, it looks its best in expansive plantings, scattered in small groupings near the back or in the middle. 
Honeycombhead is sometimes grown commercially and can be located  with a bit of diligence.  We grow it in our landscape at Hawthorn Hill from time to time, but do not have serious plans to propagate it.  If you are interested, however, let me know and we might change our mind.


  1. I have been trying to identify a flower I believe to be some species of Balduina. I have ruled out B. atropurpurea since my disk flowers are all yellow. In considering B. angustifolia and B. uniflora, both appear to have far fewer ray flowers that mine. How many Balduina species does Florida have.

  2. You have listed all 3 - the Balduina would not be blooming this early - in case what you have is in flower now. If you email me a photo, I will do my best to ID it for you:

    Thanks for reading my blog

  3. planted some in sugar sand at our golf course... trying to restore the florida scrub... they flowered and then died.. haven't seen any new growth coming up at all... is this normal?

  4. Totally normal - Balduina, being an annual, will die after it flowers and disperse its seed. Sometimes the seed takes a while to germinate - so you may not get new seedlings , or very many, in the year following, but more in the second year. The seedlings start out quite small and look a lot like weeds. They will grow quickly during the summer. If you have a good, open sugar sand substrate, it should reseed and eventually spread. Watch for the small seedlings and don't weed what you are not sure of.


Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.