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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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Sunday - July 04, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants for shelter for butterflies
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I understand that butterflies need certain plants for food, but are there specific plants that butterflies prefer to use as shelter in central Texas?

ANSWER:

The Austin Butterfly Forum (ABF) has an excellent article, Butterfly Gardening Basics, that I encourage you to read.  In the article, they advise leaving brushy areas in the yard for shelter but no particular plants are named. Other sources suggest a variety of shrubs, trees, and vines—any sort of plant that can provide shelter from the wind and rain.  There are several plants on the ABF's Butterfly Nectar Plants for Central Texas list as well as on their Caterpillar Food Plants for Central Texas list that will serve as shelter as well as nectar sources or caterpillar food. Here are a few suggested ones:

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) evergreen

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) evergreen

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye)

Forestiera pubescens (stretchberry)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) evergreen

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) evergreen

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood)

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Ehretia anacua (knockaway)

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Rhus aromatica

Rhus virens

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Prunus caroliniana

Ungnadia speciosa

Forestiera pubescens

Ilex vomitoria

Sophora secundiflora

Cornus drummondii

Morus rubra

Ehretia anacua

Frangula caroliniana

 

 

 

 

 

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