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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 - May 04, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Early nectar blooms for Monarch butterflies from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Could you tell me any early spring blooming nectar plants that monarchs will nectar from. I'm specifically looking for bloom times in March and early April. I have plenty of May blooms but not so many early spring blooms.

ANSWER:

Apparently nectar plants are not the only critical plants in the Monarch Butterfly migration patterns through Central Texas. From the Austin newspaper, the Statesman, here is an article on planting milkweed: With buttterfly sightings down, Texans plant milkweed. We also question whether the Monarchs have gotten to Central Texas by March, but didn't find any definitive information on that. See this article from Visit Wimberley The Amazing Monarch by Dorey Schmidt. See also these articles from The Texas Butterfly Ranch, and Monarch Butterfly Journey North News.

By searching on our Recommended Species page, we went to this list of Recommended Species for Butterflies and Moths. Using the selection list on the left-hand side of that page, we selected on Texas for STATE, "herb (herbaceous blooming plant) for HABIT and March for BLOOM TIME.  This yielded a list of 13 plants, from which we removed those not native to Central Texas, and want to point out the Asclepias asperula (Spider milkweed) is not a nectar plant but a nursery plant for the caterpillars. The other three you should follow the plant links to our webpage on each to see if they fulfill your requirements.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush)

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba (Poppy mallow)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Antelope-horns
Asclepias asperula

Texas indian paintbrush
Castilleja indivisa

White poppymallow
Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba

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