• ljmarkson

Add Coreopsis Integrifolia to the Home Landscape

There are over two dozen coreopsis varieties in North American on BONAP and twenty grow in Georgia. Coreopsis integrifolia also known as Chipola River tickseed or fringeleaf tickseed is a rare species that is threatened in Georgia and only found naturally in a few areas of the Coastal Plain.

Coreopsis integrifolia may be rare in Georgia, but like all native plants, it is easy to grow if it is planted in the right place.

My goal to restore nature where I live gives me plenty of room to add a threatened native coreopsis even though it might not be found growing in Atlanta. Like the imperiled Georgia aster, even if Coreopsis integrifolia only has a handful of populations in Georgia, maybe making it more common in residential habitat yards will help prevent it from disappearing from Georgia in the future.

Chipola river tickseed/Coreopsis integrifolia mingles happily with obedient plant/physostegia virginiana, chelone/turtlehead, virginia sweetspire/itea virginiana, and other moisture loving native plants in a damp area of my rewilded yard.

My idea is also to grow more straight species of coreopsis to offset the endless supply of hybridized coreopsis from both North and South America the nursery industry is churning out to please landscapers, not nature. Before 2000, most breeding was about tweaking straight species of coreopsis for home gardens, but since 2000 plant breeders have accelerated the number of hybrid coreopsis with attributes not necessarily good for habitat value.

Like many hybrid nursery plants, these coreopsis didn't self seed and died out after a season when I planted them about a half dozen years ago. This was before I started seeking out straight species of native plants.

One of the biggest attributes of Coreopsis integrifolia is it’s one of the very last flowers to bloom in late fall for the bitter end pollinators. If you look closely, you might see any number of small insects on it. Like all Coreopsis species, little birds also love the seeds of this one.

Tiny crab spiders like the one in the photo seem to like coreopsis integrifolia flowers.

There are many other reasons to add Coreopsis integrifolia to the landscape: it only grows 2 feet tall, it can grow in sunny to partly shady areas, it spreads easily but not aggressively by rhizomes as long as it is growing in damp or wet areas, and it doesn’t mind our hot and humid Atlanta summers. I learned it also self-seeds when I found some I didn’t plant at the edge of my driveway where it often floods when it rains. One of the names for Coreopsis integrifolia is floodplain tickseed which means it's a good choice for a rain garden or a floodplain forest and streambank restoration site. Coreopsis integrifolia does need moisture though. The various patches of Coreopsis integrifolia in my small rewilded yard had a tough time with our unusually dry late summer and fall but rallied a bit in the last few weeks after a few solid rain showers.

Even though I don't have as many coreopsis integrifolia flowers this year because of the dry fall, the ones that bloom are popular with November pollinators!

This is one of the Coreopsis integrifolia flowers that appeared at the base of my driveway growing in a patch of shallow sedge/carex lurida. It looks like a slug and maybe even a small leaf cutter bee has nibbled on it.

A flower that looks this rough means it's providing habitat value in my rewilded yard. This particular plant was a pop up from seeds that must have washed down my driveway during a storm.

I was unaware how rare coreopsis integrifolia was when I bought it at a native plant sale years ago. The biggest challenge is finding coreopsis integrifolia to add to your yard. Ask at your local native plant nursery if they can offer it at some point, or see if any of your obsessive native plant friends can give you a plant or seeds so you can grow your own.

I think adding coreopsis integrifolia to a yard ecosystem in the right damp spot will ensure it doesn't disappear from Georgia. It also makes a lovely landscape plant - this photo was taken during fall 2020 when we had more typical rainfall. The coreopsis integrifolia looks right at home growing with oakleaf hydrangea, native leucothoe, and white wood aster along my stone wall.

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