Florida's Plants and Their Magical Properties
Florida Is a Magical Place
When people think of Florida, they automatically picture its sandy beaches and world-renowned amusement parks. With its famous Key islands, Disney World, Busch Gardens, and Miami, Florida is a well-loved tourist destination. For the people who live in Florida, we enjoy months and months of sunshine with very few cold bouts. We also enjoy the ocean breeze, a never-ending supply of swimming pools, and all that Florida has to offer.
But there's more to Florida than meets the mainstream's eye. And for those who are looking to connect with the genus loci (the land and wildlife) of Florida, there is so much to learn and so much enrichment for one's life. If you are a pagan or witch living in Florida, the best thing you can do for your practice and life is to get outside and connect with the plants and trees in your local area. Take pictures of the plants that catch your eye. Go home and research its name, habitat, and magical properties. In this article, I hope to provide some of the enchanting Florida plants in the Tampa Bay area that can also be found elsewhere in Florida, as well as their magical properties. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, and I will add to it as I learn more about the genus loci of the Sunshine State.
Not all of the plants listed here are true natives of Florida. Be sure to read through each description so you are aware of non-native invasive species.
Florida's Magical Plants
Bitter Melon (Mamordica charantia) - a vine with bright orange fruits that burst open to reveal vibrant red seeds. This vine can be seen growing across plants, trees, fenceposts, etc. in Florida. It is not native and is now considered a non-native invasive plant that has made its way to the United States from Africa or Asia. Parts of the plant can be toxic, while other parts can be healing. The orange fruits when ripe are said to be toxic, along with the inside of the seeds. When bitter melon shows up in your yard or in your vicinity, it is saying a time of separation is about to occur. Bitter melon's magical properties include: bitterness, separation, healing, and renewal. The plant is also associated with Elegua and Papa Legba.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) - It is the state flower of Maryland. It is a bright yellow flower with a black middle. It grows wild in North America, and in Florida you can often find them on the beaches. They attract butterflies and bees to the garden. This wildflower has many uses: medicinal, culinary, and magical. Some Native American tribes include the blackeyed susan as part of their traditional medicines used for flu, colds, snake bites, and more. Only parts of the plant are edible. The magical properties of the blackeyed susan are as follows: healing, justice, and love. If you look up the story of Black-eyed Susan and Sweet William, you will know why it is useful in love magick.
Black Nightshade (solanum nigrum) - there are dozens of plants in the nightshade family; however, American nightshade can be found growing wild in Florida. You'll know it by its black berries that grow in clusters and its small, white star-shaped flowers. This plant is said to be toxic. The berries, leaves, and roots. Nightshade has been used for centuries by witches and by those who use its berries as a poison. Its magical properties include psychic visions, intuition, shapeshifting, flying (astral projection), spiritual ritual, binding and hexing. If you choose to use any part of this plant, exercise caution! Nightshade is associated with Bellona, Circe, Hecate, and Medea (to name a few).
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia) - ten years ago, most Floridians considered this beautiful wildflower a weed. Today they are being placed in landscapes on purpose. Their beautiful red and yellow shades grab your attention, as well as the attention of honeybees. These striking flowers are a perennial and are fairly drought resistant. Because of this, blanket flower's magical properties include: strength, perseverance, joy, and comfort.
Dutchman's Pipe Vine (Aristolochia) - a Florida native plant, this vine will creep up a fenceline and take over. Its leaves are elephant-ear shaped and its odd flowers are a mixture of dark red and yellow, although are usually covered by the plant's foliage. This vine is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies. It is also known as birthwort and has been used since ancient times to aid in childbirth (though today it is known this plant can be toxic in certain amounts). The Dutchman's pipe vine's magical properties include: childbirth/new motherhood, new beginnings, transformation, and shelter.
Seashore mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) - most people don't realize that the word "marshmallow" originally and correctly refers to a plant. They may think it is only the word used to describe a fluffy white sugary treat called the marshmallow. However, these treats used to be made from the roots of the marshmallow plant. This native plant can be found in Florida, because as its name suggests, the mallow plant does well in marsh-like habitats. It looks like sticks poking out from the ground with green leaves and small pink flowers when in bloom. The marshmallow plant's magical properties are strength, emotions, and it also fights against impotence, infertility, and infidelity.
Passion vine (Passiflora) - this native plant can be found along roadsides and in fields. It is a vine that climbs and blooms odd exotic-looking flowers. This vine is also a producer of the popular passion fruit. The flowers range from yellow to red to purple and white. This plant is a host plant to butterflies and is a nectar source for various bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Native Americans have used the passion vine's leaves to treat and/or cure insomnia, seizures, and to aid in pain relief. It is also believed that passion vine has a sedative effect. The passion vine's magickal properties are: passion, spiritual growth, proper timing, and soothing. It is associated with Jesus and Krishna.
Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata) - an important plant that helps to stabilize the beaches and sand dunes along Florida's coastline. You'll know them when you go to the beach and see a plant that resembles oats. They are a tall yellow grass with oats at the top and can grow up to six feet tall! Sea oats magickal properties include: protection through "weathering the storms", balance, and extreme strength in difficult situations. Please note: it is discouraged (and possibly illegal) to take sea oats from the beach or their natural habitat as they are used to stabilize the shoreline from erosion.
Spanish needles (Bidens alba) - most people consider this wildflower an invasive weed. It is often sprayed or pulled up from Florida yards; however, this white wildflower with five petals has more benefits than can be counted. It is not only edible, it is medicinal. The flower heads are edible and taste similar to arugula. The leaves, when young, can also be eaten raw or cooked. There is research that this plant may have medicinal properties for colorectal cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. Traditionally, spanish needles have been used to treat earaches, toothaches, wounds, flus, and as an antiseptic. Spanish needles' magical properties include: healing, purification, and fertility/procreation. Next time you see one growing in your yard or near your house, let it grow!
Tickseed (Coreopsis) - another striking native wildflower, tickseed is known to be a great source of food for insects. They are typically bright yellow but can range from yellow to red. Usually found in fields and by roads, but are now being grown in Florida Friendly Landscapes. Coreopsis means to be cheerful and the species Coreopsis arkansa means love at first sight. Tickseed's magical properties are happiness and love.
Create a Florida-Friendly Landscape to bring Florida's magical plants to your own yard and garden!— Nicole Canfield
What to Do With Magical Florida Plants
So now that you have this information, what can you do with it?
First of all, if you live in Florida and are a homeowner, look into setting up a Florida friendly landscape. Instead of planting the same ol' boring ornamental plants as your neighbors (such as non-native hibiscus and Mexican petunias), try planting some Florida native flowers such as tickseed or black-eyed susans. Not only is this friendly to the environment, but it gets you in touch with the genus loci (the spirits of the land). You are inviting the benevolent nature spirits of Florida to your yard and garden. Many of the Florida native vines and wildflowers are also butterfly and bee attractors. This brings abundance and good luck! In addition, if you need a black-eyed susan or a passion fruit for a spell, you have it right in your garden. This is how witches of the past worked their magick—by using what they grew themselves or could find easily in nature.
Other ways to use Florida's magickal plants in your magick: harvesting flowers or herbs to dry and use in spell bags, bottles, incenses, powders, teas, potions and more! Always make sure you look up the plant's properties, including any toxicity. Also make sure you don't take more of the plant than what you need and be careful before unrooting any native plants you find in the wild in Florida. We want to promote the growth and sustenance of Florida's native plants and natural habitat, not tear it down. By simply enjoying the presence of these plants in your life, you are connecting with Mother Earth in a very special way. There is so much to learn from the wildlife around us...no matter where you live on Earth!
© 2017 Nicole Canfield