Meadow Beauties

This week for Flora and Fauna Friday, we’re looking at another common wildflower of SC. This week we’re examining Meadow-beauties, genus Rhexia.

Meadow-beauties are a genus of low growing, wildflower shrubs common to the savannahs, fields, roadsides, glades, and meadows of the south. Each of our common species are similar in appearance. They sport four wide magenta petals and eight finger-like anthers of pollen above opposite, simple leaves. Meadow-beauties produce very little nectar, so they don’t draw in many butterflies or wasps, but their ample pollen supply is a magnet for native bees. Their flowers are rather ephemeral and only last a short while before their petals are shed. Beneath the flowers, an urn-shaped capsule full of miniscule seeds forms.

Around these parts, I’ve stumbled upon three species of Meadow-beauty: Maryland Meadow-beauty (Rhexia mariana), Handsome Harry (R. virginica), Maid Marian (R. Nashii), and Savannah Meadow-beauty (R. alifanus). Maryland Meadow-beauty is by far the most common and can be found across Edisto and SC as a whole. It loves roadsides, fields, and meadows. It grows as a short, open shrub and can also be found as a white-flowered variety. Handsome Harry is more suited to pine savannas and shows up more inland. It’s just as short a shrub as the others but with much fuller foliage. Maid Marian is mostly coastal and prefers wetter soils. It looks a lot like Maryland Meadow-beauty but is given away by special hairs on the back base of its petals. Savannah Meadow-beauty is easy to pick out from the others because of its smooth, blue-green leaves held upwards against its stem. Its flowers are a little larger and more vibrant than the others and the plant thrives in sandy Pine savannas.

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