En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
3 ratings

Friday - July 03, 2009

From: Brighton, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Attracting butterflies in Tennessee
Answered by: Janice Kvale


What flowers and plants do the caterpillars in Tennessee eat? And do you know what butterflies live in Tipton Co. Tennessee?


Those are definitely connected questions; certain plants may attract specific butterflies. The Phyciodes Phaon (Phaon Crescent) is specifically identified for your county and appears across the southern United States. A few of the plants or trees in your area that attract butterflies include Acer rubrum (red maple), Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Asimina triloba (pawpaw), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), Carya alba (mockernut hickory), Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea), Cornus florida (flowering dogwood), Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed), Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern).

There are many, many more and here is how you may locate which plants attract which butterflies and moths. On the Wildflower website, click on Explore Plants, then Plant Database, and then Recommended Species. This takes you to the 121 species of plants of all types recommended for Tennessee. One by one you click on the plant name, scroll down to the section on Benefits, and you will find which butterflies or moths frequent this plant species, if any. Alternately, cross referenced through Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) on the Recommended Species page, there is a section under Special Collections just for butterflies and moths. You can reverse your search by clicking on the plant and look for TN (Tennessee) under the distribution of that insect species.

If you are interested in gardening to attract butterflies, you may want to read how to do this in the How To section of the Wildflower website and a butterfly bibliography. A great resource for you is the butterfly section of Birds and Blooms Magazine. Another site (Discover Life) will help you identify different species of butterflies that you may see in your garden. Avian Pursuits lists butterflies NOT seen in Tipton County, Tennessee. If this is a recent interest or hobby for you, you have picked one that will provide you a lifetime of pleasure.


Acer rubrum

Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias incarnata

Asimina triloba


Asclepias tuberosa

Callicarpa americana

Carpinus caroliniana

Ceanothus americanus

Conoclinium coelestinum

Coreopsis lanceolata

Comptonia peregrina

Coreopsis tinctoria

More Wildflowers Questions

Does Texas Thistle have any scent from Austin
March 26, 2010 - Does the Texas Thistle have any particular aroma. We are doing a report, and cannot find the answer to this question anywhere. We have also driven all around local Austin, and cannot find any on the...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets in memorial garden in cemetery
April 11, 2008 - When is the peak time to scatter bluebonnet seeds? I have a loved one that recently died, and she requested that her body be cremated. She would like her ashes to be mixed with bluebonnet seeds and ...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars on Milkweed in MA
January 23, 2016 - I have found every year a black/red caterpillars on my milkweed. They eat everything! I have never been able to find out what they are or how to get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

Gaura coccinea for xeric garden
May 14, 2007 - Is Scarlet Gaura (Gaura coccinea) a good plant for a small xeric garden? How invasive is it?
view the full question and answer

Boom time for Texas wildflowers and best sites for viewing
February 01, 2006 - I live in NJ and would like to visit Texas and see the bluebonnets and other wildflowers in bloom this spring. When do you expect the best display of flowers this year? Also, can you tell me where th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center