This Sweat Bee has not heard the news that Gaillardia, a plant whose flowers are popular with the pollinator set, is no longer considered a Florida native after all these years. Though native to North America, it seems its eastern range did not include Florida — maybe. Plant purists are calling for it to be ripped out and disposed of while the great variety of insects and butterflies who enjoy the colorful plant’s nectar and pollen fly around overhead wondering what is happening. The Florida Native Plant Society lists the birds that eat its seeds include Chickadee, Titmice, and Warblers. The many pollinators it attracts include native bees, honeybees, butterflies, and wasps. The FNPS goes on to say, “It is difficult to know the native range of this plant in Florida as it has been widely planted on roadsides across much of the state at least since the 1700s.”
The University of South Florida’s Atlas of Florida Plants states, “In the USA, Gaillardia pulchella is found predominantly from Louisiana west to Arizona and Kansas south to Texas. It is widely cultivated in Florida. It is probably not native to Florida nor the rest of the eastern USA (Weakley 2020). A DNA phylogeny found G. pulchella closely related to other species of the southwestern USA (Marlowe & Hufford 2007).”
A word about the image, this particular Gaillardia flower was in fairly deep shadow despite the early afternoon Sun making for some challenging exposures.