Inspired by how native plants provide critical butterfly medicine, this year’s spring seeds include:
- Echinacea purpurea (Cone flower)
- Echinacea angustifolia (Cone flower)
- Asclepias tuberosa (Pleurisy root)
- Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed)
- Actaea racemosa (Black Cohosh)
– Echinacea and milkweed seeds provided by strictlymedicinalseeds.com
– You can also find this book for sale at Strictly Medicinals: Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs by Richo Cech, a very important resource for understanding techniques critical to propagation.
– Cohosh seeds are from Loess Roots, landscapingRevolution.com located in Stanton, Nebraska.
Did you know?
Black cohosh flowers have a fetid odor that is highly attractive to many insect visitors and pollinators. Its flowers produce abundant nectar and pollen. Black cohosh is a major food source for the caterpillars of the Appalachian Azure butterfly (Celastrina neglectamajor).
In searching for information about how medicinal plants serve an important role in the ecosystem for butterflies, I came across the most amazing photograph of the rare Azure butterfly whose habitat is threatened due to the invasion of garlic mustard spreading in woodlands, change in land use and the over-harvesting of black cohosh. We tend to be more familiar with the plight of the Monarch and its connection and dependence on milkweed, and how Echinacea attracts painted ladies, swallowtails and fritillaries but the woodland medicinals are not to be forgotten and also play a vital role in sustaining insect/butterfly populations.
John Lampkin is an avid citizen naturalist and Nature photographer and was an active member of the Rockland County, New York Audubon Society for many years. Now retired from a music career he is busy exploring and marveling at the Floridian universe with camera in hand.
Before moving to Florida, John lived in NY with his wife for 45 years where together they created a vibrant back yard habitat with a pond and meadow. Black Cohosh was one of their favorite shade-loving plants. The inflorescences are attractive in both bloom and bud. Note in the picture that the Azure butterfly is laying her egg on an unopened bud. The egg hatches very quickly and the larva eats the buds as a first meal before moving on.
Coincidentally, as a professional composer his woodwind quintet, “Insects: A Musical Entomology in Six Legs” won the Grand Prize in the 2001 Composers Guild international competition. John also constructs crossword puzzles for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the LA Times and other venues, with many of his puzzles having Nature themes. Except for his fascination with birds, bugs, and plants he is totally harmless.