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Pale Meadowbeauty  Rhexia mariana

The Pale Meadowbeauty, Rhexia mariana, also called the Maryland Meadowbeauty, is found throughout most of the eastern United States east of the Mississippi and north to Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts.  It is a Florida native plant and grows throughout the Panhandle and much of the Peninsula.  It likes wet to seasonally moist areas, such as sandhills, flatwoods, bogs, marshes and road ditches.  These plants spread readily by underground stems (rhizomes) and often form extensive colonies.

This plant is a herbaceous perennial that often dies back to the ground each winter and re-emerges in early spring.  Mature plants can grow to a height of two feet.  The slender stems are square and hairy.  The leaves are lance-shaped and opposite each other. Loosely arranged flowers appear at the top of the stem.  These flowers can vary in color from rose-pink to lavender to white and are one to two inches wide.  

Each flower has four petals that are attached to a cylindrical floral tube topped with four triangular teeth.  The petals are quite delicate and easily fall off when disturbed.  In the center of the flower are eight stamens with bright yellow anthers, each curved like a sickle.  The pollen of each anther is released through a small pore at the end.  The stamens surround a single long slender pistil.  The flowers bloom from early summer to fall. However, in the central and southern part of the  Florida Peninsula, they may be found blooming throughout much of the year.

In most flowers, the pollen is loosely attached to the anthers and is easily removed by visiting pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and other insects.  However, since the pollen in the Meadowbeauty species is inside the anther and is only released through a small opening, it is difficult for most insects to retrieve the pollen.  Fortunately, a few pollinating species, such as bumble bees, leaf cutter bees and a few green bees have developed a technique to release the pollen. This technique is called buzz pollination.  Bees grasp the anthers with their forelegs or mouthparts, close their wings, then vibrate their flight muscles, which release the small pollen grains through the opening.  The pollen grains may cover the abdomen or head of the bees.  The bees then brush or press the pollen into their pollen baskets.

After a successful pollination, each flower is eventually replaced by a seed capsule that remains hidden in the floral tube.  The floral tube becomes shaped like an urn, which becomes brownish after the petals fall off.  Each seed capsule contains numerous tiny brownish seeds.

The photos on this page were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.  Additional information on this plant may be found by clicking on the following links:

     Atlas of Florida Plants

     USDA PLANTS Database

    Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Bumble Bee using buzz polination

Green Bee using buzz pollination