Crow’s Nest: Plants we love from the kitchen window…

July 7, 2013


I’ve written before about how much we enjoy our winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) from our kitchen window; the red fruit and the birds they attract liven up our winters.

Also growing below our kitchen window, and now tall enough to view up close while washing dishes, is a native buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). In the mornings the round flower clusters are covered with sleepy bees, and later in the day butterflies.

Buttonbush naturally grows in sunny wetlands and tolerates the clay soils in our yard. This is the species that we recommend people plant instead of the non-native butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) because although the non-native shrub’s flowers attract adult butterflies for their nectar, the leaves provide no food source for their larva—so the plant may serve as a sink, attracting the adults but lowering their chances of successful reproduction.

According to Douglas Tallamy in Bringing Nature Home (pages 96-98) buttonbush supports the larvae of 18 species of butterflies and moths in our area, including the promethea moth.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 7, 2013.