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Feay's Palafox
feay's palafox
Feay's palafox, photographed at Highland Scrub Natural Area, Deerfield Beach, Broward County, in July 2016.
feay's palafox

Feay's palafox — Palafoxia feayi — is truly a Florida native. In fact, it's found only in Florida, from Marion and Volusia counties southward.

It's a perennial, and grows three to four feet tall, usually taller than it is wide. Leaves on the plant are sparse, oval-shaped near the base, more linear farther up the plant. It flowers spring to fall, white with red ends and hook-like structures. It likes full sun and dry habitats, including scrub and scrubby flatwoods.

The genus is named after Jose Rebolledo Palafox, Duke of Saragossa, a Spanish general who fought the French under Napoleon during the peninsular wars. His military exploits seem to be better known than his botanical, whatever they might be, although he apparently had little success against Bonaparte. But then, not many generals not named Wellington did.

Palafox served for a time as viceroy of New Spain and briefly was archbishop of Mexico. There is some question whether the duke should get credit for the genus or whether another Palafox was the true inspiration.

Next question: Who is Feay and why is this his palafox? Apparently William T., a 19th century doctor, botanist and professor from Savannah, Ga. who collected plants, including this one, in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and other parts of the Southeastern U.S. He found Feay's palafox while visiting the Sunshine State during the Civil War.

Regardless, there are 11 members of the genus, all living in dry, sandy habitats, mostly in the southeast, midwest and southwest. And Massachusetts of all places, according to the USDA.

feay's palafox

Feay's palafox is one of two members of the genus found in Florida, the other being coastalplain palafox.

It is cultivated, used for natural landscapes and restorations. It is grown from seed; some commercial nurseries have the plant.

Feay's palafox is a host plant for the gray hairstreak butterfly. The Institute for Regional Conserviation considers Feay's rare, but it is not legally listed by any state or federal agency. We found some of the plants on this page at Seacrest Scrub Natural Area in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County but we've seen it in other dry, scrubby places as well.

In fact, it can be relatively abundant where it's found but the problem is these places in their natural state have become rare outside of a few preserves.

It is a member of the Asteraceae, or aster family.


Photographs by

David Sedore

feay's palafox florida


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) distribution map for Feay's palafox.

feays distriubtion U.S. map
Links for Feay's Palafox
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.