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Snow squarestem
Melanthera nivea

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

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

Ecological Restoration Notes: In South Florida, primarly found along the coast, with other species of Melanthera growing inland.

Availability: Native plant nurseries in central and northern Florida.

Description: Small to medium herbaceous wildflower.

Dimensions: About 1-4 feet in height. About as broad as tall.

Growth Rate: Fast.

Range: Southeastern United States northwest to southern Illinois and south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, 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: Primarily coastal uplands in South Florida, ranging more inland to the north of our area.

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

Nutritional Requirements: Low to moderate; it can grow in nutrient poor soils or soils with some organic content.

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

Salt Wind Tolerance: High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without significant injury.

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

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: White with black anthers.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy.

Flowering Season: All year.

Fruit: Inconspicuous achene.

Wildlife and Ecology: Nectar plant for Bahamian swallowtail (Papilio andraemon), cassius blue (Leptotes cassius), Dorantes longtail (Urbanus dorantes), field skipper (Atalopedes campestris), Florida white (Appias drusilla), gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus), gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), julia (Dryas iulia), long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus), Miami blue (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri), obscure skipper (Panoquina panoquinoides), Palatka skipper (Euphyes pilatka), Schaus' swallowtail (Heraclides aristodemius), tropical checkered-skipper (Pyrgus oileus) and other butterflies. Attracts bee and wasp pollinators.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.

Comments: Taxonomy: some authors place two south Florida endemics (M. angustifolia, M. parvifolia, into synonomy here; we do not. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist

Other data on Melanthera nivea available from:

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