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Yellow joyweed
Alternanthera flavescens

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also butterfly gardens along the coast.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A common element of beach dunes and coastal strand nearly throughout coastal South Florida.

Availability: Grown by enthusiasts.

Description: Small scrambling herb.

Dimensions: Typically 3-12 inches in height or higher, climbing over the ground or other vegetation and forming large patches.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys north along the coasts to Brevard (southern Merritt Island) and Manatee counties; West Indies (where possibly introduced in part), southern Mexico, Central America and South America.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Coastal beaches, thickets, and hammock edges.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy soils, with or without humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Low; it grows in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Frontline; grows in direct salt wind but away from constant salt spray.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: White.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous.

Flowering Season: All year; peak spring-summer.

Fruit: Inconspicuous utricle. All year.

Wildlife and Ecology: Nectar plant for cassius blue (Leptotes cassius), great southern white (Ascia monuste), long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus), Miami blue (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri), Schaus’ swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus ponceanus) and other butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from cuttings.

References: Hammer 2004.

Comments: This is much more common in South Florida than seaside joyweed (A. maritima), which does not have stalked flowering clusters.

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014
In habitat, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park,
Monroe County, Florida

Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014
In habitat, Blazingstar Preserve, Palm Beach County, Florida

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Other data on Alternanthera flavescens available from:

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