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Publication #SGEB-75-20

October Flower, Polygonella polygama1

Debbie Miller, Mack Thetford, Christina Verlinde, and Gabriel Campbell2

Note: This fact sheet is also available as a chapter in a comprehensive manual titled Dune Restoration and Enhancement for the Florida Panhandle, available in pdf form here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SG/SG15600.pdf. Please see the manual for more information about other useful and attractive native plants for dunes and for further information about restoration and preservation techniques.

Polygonaceae

Figure 1. 
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October flower is widespread throughout Florida and more broadly in coastal states west to Texas and northeast to Virginia. October flower is found in dune and scrub plant communities and ruderal areas. The showy flowers and attractive foliage make this native plant a desirable ornamental for landscapes.

General Description

October flower is an herbaceous short-lived perennial that can reach heights of 3 ft. Leaves are simple, alternate, linear, stipulate, 0.5 to 5 mm wide and persistent when fruit are present with veins that appear parallel and with inconspicuous secondary venation. Stipules are fused together around the stem in an entire ocrea. Branches are partly fused to the stem as if arising between the nodes. Inflorescences are prolific; racemes occur from July to October. Flowers are white to pink and contain male and female parts. They lack a corolla, have superior ovaries, and are subtended by a bract and two bracteoles. Fruit is an 0.8- to 1-mm-wide achene.

Propagation

Germination requirements of October flower are known (Heather 2009; Heather 2010). Seeds have non-deep physiological dormancy that is alleviated by warm or cold, moist stratification, application of 1,000 ppm GA (Gibberellic acid), or time in storage. Seeds prefer cooler temperatures (22/11°C) to warmer ones. Seeds collected between November and February have been successfully germinated.

Stem cutting production is possible on summer softwood stem cuttings of October flower (Heather 2009; Thetford et al. 2012). Application of auxin, such as IBA (Indole-3-butyric acid) is not needed for root initiation but may improve rooting performance. Greenhouse-grown plants perform well in both peat- and bark-based propagation media (Smith et al. 2014).

Outplanting

Greenhouse-grown plants of October flower performed well in a trial garden as a native wildflower producer for several months, with peak flowering in October (Smith et al. 2014). Beach dune outplanting information is not presently available.

Literature Cited

Heather, A.E. 2009. “A study on propagation methods for two native wildflowers: Polygonella polygama and Polygonella robusta.” Master’s thesis. University of Florida.

Heather, A.E. 2010. “Non-deep physiological dormancy in seeds of two Polygonella species with horticultural potential.” HortScience 45(12):1854–1858.

Smith, A.M., S.B. Wilson, M. Thetford, K.L. Nolan, and C. Reinhardt Adams. 2014. “Performance of nine Florida native wildflower species grown in varying container substrates.” Native Plants Journal 15(1):75–86.

Thetford, M., A.E. O’Donoughue, S.B. Wilson, and H.E. Pérez. 2012. “Softwood cutting propagation of three Polygonella wildflower species native to Florida.” Propagation of Ornamental Plants 12(1): 58–62.

Footnotes

1.

This document is SGEB-75-20, one of a series of the Florida Sea Grant College Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2018. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Debbie Miller, professor, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Milton, FL 32583; and Mack Thetford, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Milton, FL 32583. Christina Verlinde, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant agent Santa Rosa County. Gabriel Campbell, graduate research assistant; and Ashlynn Smith, graduate research assistant; UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Milton, FL 32583.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.