En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 05, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native trees that host moths and butterflies for birds in Houston Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have learned that non-native or alien plants do not attract the insects that the birds need to live on. I would like to know which native trees for central Texas have the greatest hosting capacity for moths/butterflies that provide food for the birds in the area?


The Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas has an excellent list of Native Host Plants for Southeast Texas Butterflies in its Native Plant Information Pages.  Their list includes trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses and gives specific recommendations for specific butterflies or moths.  Since you are from Houston I am assuming that these are the best choices for you.  However, if you are looking for trees for Central Texas, most of these species are also native to Central Texas. Also, on our Recommended Species page we have a list of plants that serve as hosts to moths and butterflies—"Butterflies and Moths of North America".  While all the species on the "Butterflies and Moths of North America" list are native to North America, they are not necessarily native to Texas and might not do well in your area.  Be sure to check the "Distribution" and "Growing Conditions" to see if they are suitable for your area.  Here are a few choices from these lists:

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Celtis laevigata (sugarberry)

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon)

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)

Populus deltoides (eastern cottonwood)

Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Sapindus saponaria (wingleaf soapberry)

Here are photos of the plants listed above from our Image Gallery:

Ptelea trifoliata

Celtis laevigata

Carpinus caroliniana

Chionanthus virginicus

Ilex vomitoria

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Diospyros virginiana

Diospyros texana

Populus deltoides

Prosopis glandulosa

Prunus serotina

Sapindus saponaria





More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Plant for deep shade in Pennsylvania
April 09, 2013 - Hi! I am landscaping our house and trying to use only plants that provide seasonal benefit to bees, butterflies, birds etc. not the deer though. My question is that I have a fairly steep slope of abou...
view the full question and answer

Creating a wildlife refuge
January 30, 2003 - We would like to make my yard more of a wildlife refuge by using a portion of the lawn for plants and shrubs and may afford shelter for birds and other wildlife. Can you please recommend what we shoul...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion in IL
August 02, 2012 - We just got done building a house and have leveled all of the dirt piles. We do have a row of straw bales to help prevent the dirt from washing onto the neighbors property. It is the wrong time of ye...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Nandina with natives for a schoolyard in Washington DC
May 11, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our schoolyard now has some invasive plants in the landscaping that we would like to replace with native plants. We have four clumps of Nandina planted at each pillar along a...
view the full question and answer

Hybrid of Campsis radicans to attract hummingbirds
February 06, 2008 - Hello :) I am not new to gardening...just new with new varieties of plants/flowers. I tried to do my "homework" first before contacting you...so I do appreciate your time. Anyhoo, I'm developin...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center