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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.

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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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Tuesday - March 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Flowers for monarch butterflies in Bastrop, Gonzales and Travis Counties of Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr./s. Smarty Plants, What are some flowers that grow naturally on a Bastrop, Travis, or Gonzales county riverside that monarch butterflies commonly feed on? Thank you

ANSWER:

The monarch butterfly adults drink nectar from the flowers of many plant species, but the larvae feed exclusively on plants of the Family Asclepediaceae (Milkweed Family).  Generally, the larvae feed on plants in the Genus Asclepias, but will also feed on the vines in the Genera Matelea and Cynanchum.

Here are native species in the Family Asclepediaceae that occur in Bastrop, Gonzales and/or Travis Counties:

Asclepias amplexicaulis (Clasping milkweed) found in Bastrop County.  According to the Freckman Herbarium's Plants of Wisconsin its habitat is dry sandy prairies and woods.

Asclepias asperula (Spider milkweed) grows in all three counties in meadows, roadsides and brushlands.

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed) grows in Gonzales County in wet meadows and riparian areas.

Asclepias latifolia (Broadleaf milkweed) in Bastrop County grows in sandy, clayey or rocky soils of prairies according to MonarchWatch.

Asclepias linearis (Slim milkweed) grows in Bastrop County.

Asclepias oenotheroides (Zizotes milkweed) grows in Bastrop and Travis Counties and prefers dry sandy soils.

Asclepias texana (Texas milkweed) grows in Travis County in ditches, ravines, streams and river banks.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) grows in all three counties in prairies, openwoods, ravines and hillsides and prefers dry sandy soil.

Asclepias verticillata (Whorled milkweed) grows in all three counties in woodlands in rocky, sandy or clayey soils.

Asclepias viridiflora (Green milkweed) grows in Bastrop and Travis Counties in sandy or rocky prairie soils.

Asclepias viridis (Green antelopehorn) grows in all three  counties on roadsides and prairies in dry limestone soils.

Of these Asclepias species only A. incarnata and A. texana are indicated as growing near waterways.  The others could, however, be found in the general vicinity of rivers.

Although the Asclepias spp. are the primary food for monarch larvae, the following milkweeds may occasionally be used.

Cynanchum laeve (honey vine) grows in all three counties.  Here is more information from MonarchWatch.

Cynanchum racemosum var. unifarium (Talayote) grows in all three counties.

Funastrum crispum (Wavy-leaf milkweed vine) grows in Travis County.

Funastrum cynanchoides ssp. cynanchoides (Fringed twinevine) grows in Bastrop County.

Matelea biflora (Purple milkweed vine) grows in Travis County.

Matelea cynanchoides (Prairie milkvine) grows in Bastrop County.

Matelea edwardsensis (Plateau milkvine) grows in Travis County.

Matelea gonocarpos (Anglepod) grows in all three counties.

Matelea reticulata (Green milkweed vine) grows in Bastrop and Travis Counties.

Matelea sagittifolia (Arrowleaf milkvine) grows in Travis County.

Here is an information-filled brochure from Texas Monarch Watch about the monarchs in Texas and Texas Entomology has more on monarchs and milkweeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Clasping milkweed
Asclepias amplexicaulis

Antelope horns
Asclepias asperula

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Broadleaf milkweed
Asclepias latifolia

Slim milkweed
Asclepias linearis

Zizotes milkweed
Asclepias oenotheroides

Texas milkweed
Asclepias texana

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Whorled milkweed
Asclepias verticillata

Green milkweed
Asclepias viridiflora

Green milkweed
Asclepias viridis

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