Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blue Porterweed ~ Elizabeth Smith

Blue Porterweed, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.

This unusual plant can be found wild in well-drained disturbed soil, and is often cultivated in south Florida. Considered endemic by some, purists debate its status as a true Florida native. A similar but larger relative exists, often confusing identification between the two.

Zebra Longwing and Julia butterflies love the flowers, and I recently learned that it’s also the host plant for Tropical Buckeye larva. The flowers on this plant are a violet to violet-blue, but I’ve seen blossoms that veer into a vivid clear blue with very little violet.

I resorted to the Internet to find out why this is called porterweed, ironically finding the answer from an acquaintance here in Florida. Roger Hammer is (among many things) the Senior Interpretive Naturalist in the Miami-Dade Parks Department, and in his online article (click here to read) he clears up the mystery. A foaming porter-like tea (porter is beer or ale) has been made from the plant to treat several conditions, hence “porterweed.”

Thanks for visiting! You can click on the image above to view larger on my Flickr photostream.


  1. This is your typically well done botanical page. You do have such a pleasing sense of page design, and great watercolor skills.

  2. I agree with Carol. And the colours a truly lovely!

  3. Fascinating to learn how things are used/named!

  4. It's beautiful, Elizabeth, and love the article link!

  5. Thank, Carol and Sandra, I appreciate your kind words! I am very pleased with the colors from these watercolor pencils (Kimberly, made by General Pencil Company).

    Hi Jeanette – it is fascinating, isn’t it? I love to read your historical notes, especially those from Lewis & Clark’s journey. Nowadays we forget how much we depended on plants for survival.

    Thank you, Kate! I was so excited to find the information, and even happier when I realized the author was someone I knew years ago!

  6. Exquisite study - absolutely stunning in detail, information, color and composition!!


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