Friday, June 13, 2014
Baldwin's Eryngo - Eryngium baldwinii
Baldwin's eryngo is easily overlooked when not in bloom as it blends in with the other plants of the understory, but it stands out once the bright blue flowers are present. Flowering can occur in most months, but is most common in early summer. The plants above were photographed in mid-June at the outer edge of an oak hammock, in disturbed soil, next to an infrequently used unimproved roadway. The flower heads are composed of many dozens of extremely tiny flowers. Each head is no more than 1/8 inch across. The flowers are pollinated by equally small bees and butterflies; one pollinating bee is apparent in the middle photo.
Several eryngos serve as larval plants to the eastern black swallowtail, but this species has not been documented as one of them. Baldwin's eryngo could make an interesting ground cover in moist partly sunny locations, along trails and walkways, but it has never been cultivated commercially to the best of my knowledge. It exhibits some drought tolerance, once established, but will flower best if given some sun. Plants grown in full sun, require more moisture.