Gaillardia pulchella

The legend of the firewheel dates back to the Aztecs when it was just a simple, all-yellow wildflower. Women often wore the bright, cheerful flowers in their hair or as adornments, and kids played among the fields of firewheels, basking in the sun.

But all of that changed with the arrival of Cortez and his conquistadors. They brought death and destruction. Aztec blood soaked the land. The firewheel flower, moved by pity and grief, caught the falling blood in its petals. And so the legend goes, the firewheel changed forever, its bright yellow hue turned to a deep, rich red.

The firewheel is known as a symbol of the Aztec people and their enduring spirit. Its red petals are said to be stained with the blood of those who fell in the fight for their land and their way of life. And despite the passage of time, the legend remains a powerful and enduring reminder of the strength and resilience of the Aztec people.

The four spindly Gaillardia plants we picked up at¬†The Butterfly Estates¬†appeared to be on their way out for the season. Only a few blooms held on to the warm colors they’re known for. After planting them in the pollinator garden, they bounced back and bloomed with the winter solstice a few weeks away.

Shaving Brush Tree

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Elongated acorns occupy branches once all the leaves fall in late winter.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pink blows up brown every night.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pseudobombax ellipticum

The Pseudobombax pollinator block party swarms for weeks. Can you hear the dembow?

Swamp Lily

Crinum americanum

Billy Creek Preserve and Filter Marsh

Blocks from strip malls on four lanes of fifty mile an hour traffic straddling a median crossed at dawn and dusk by Guatemalan day laborers rests fifty-six acres of marsh designed and engineered to clean and filter water destined for the Caloosahatchee. It’s a rad place to ride your bike.

Billy Creek Preserve and Filter Marsh

Click here for more about the preserve.