Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Butterflies in Bloom by Leah Mathison - Winter 2002
Establishing a butterfly garden at your home or workplace can be a rewarding project that will help attract these exquisite insects while simultaneously aiding their conservation. Not to be confused with enclosed butterfly houses, this plant environment designed as an outdoor haven and natural habitat for butterflies is specifically created to nourish and protect with a wide variety of plants native to their region.
While they do evoke lovely images of graceful, jeweled wings, a butterfly's contribution goes far beyond its good looks. Butterflies contribute to regional ecosystems by pollinating the flowering plants that desperately need this service to reproduce. Pollination -- the transfer of pollen from an anther to the stigma of a flower -- is essential to plant reproduction. Further, like flowers need pollen, butterflies need nectar. When a butterfly feeds on the nectar of one flower and inadvertently transfers that flower's pollen to another, an interaction occurs that is vital to both plant and butterfly. In any given locale, the butterflies adapt to their native surroundings, evolving in tandem with plants and creating a unique butterfly-plant relationship.
Unfortunately, butterflies face the same barriers to survival that threaten entire ecological communities. One of the most pervasive threats to pollinators is the systematic destruction of their habitats when landscape becomes fragmented by development. As butterflies lose the food and shelter they need for survival, butterfly gardens are an aesthetic way to help reestablish their habitat.