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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.

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

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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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

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