Monday, February 5, 2018

Gardening for Butterflies III

Gardening for Butterflies Part III

The first 2 parts in case you missed them: Part I, Part II

1.  Vitex negundo (lagundi)

Lagundi is a medicinal bushy tree whose leaf concoction is famous as cough remedies. In fact a local pharmaceutical company has been reaping gains in capsulizing its leaves and going into the modern pharmaceutical route. I also use the capsules because i don't like the scent and taste of the boiled leaves like the traditional folks do. Usually, it is good for allergic cough or bronchial asthma as is written in the label prescription.

It was just lately that i realized some butterflies love to nectar on its very small flowers. In the vacant lots near our area they are cut back so as to allow grasses to grow for cattle grazing. But this one tree was left alone, so the cows can be tethered on its already strong trunk. So i see lots of insects and butterflies roaming around it. There was even a hawkmoth having it as its host plant.

a skipper nectaring on lagundi flowers

the branch inflorescence of lagundi

another butterfly i can't identify

Great Eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina philippense

the leaves of lagundi

2. Clausena sp. (malarayap)

Clausena sp. is a cousin of the curry tree, also in the Rutaceae Family where the citrus species belong. The leaves also has the mild aroma, and is used by traditional folks in relieving some ailments. It is locally called "malarayap" because the smell is like that of "dayap" or lime. I find many butterflies roaming and nectaring on those white flowers. The tigers specially love them. However, our tree here is a bit tall of maybe 8 meters that limits me to take photos of butterflies there on top. 

The fruits starts from green and later becomes whitish when mature. They don't get orange or red when ripe, but just fell off the tree producing lots of seedlings around it when the rains come.  The young small plants are favorite host plants by the Common Mormon. 

young fruits of Clausena sp. 

a branch of flowering Clausena sp.

 3. Cosmos bipinnatus (cosmos)

The common cosmos in our area are the orange and yellow. I just got this red from a friend in the Visayas. It is loved by butterflies in her garden, but in our case the butterflies are not seen on them, maybe because i only go home on weekends and i have very limited observation period. Besides, maybe there are many preferred nectaring plants in our area that limits going to this cosmos. But addition of this bright reddish-pink color in the garden definitely adds charm to the garden.

It is a short-day plant, so my planting it almost at the end of the year obliged them to bloom while still very small, so they were not able to grow vegetatively before reproduction. I will be planting them earlier next year as the rainy season arrives to allow them grow taller before the onset of blooms.

4. Vigna unguiculata, V. unguiculata ssp sesquipedalis (cowpea and stringbeans)

Vigna is a vegetable, planting it in the vicinity of the garden brings not only food for humans but also food for butterflies. I noticed many lycaenids nectaring on them, and it even hosts the Gram Blue larvae. A few square meters growing this produces hundreds of lycaenids in the vicinity. I really enjoy taking lots of photos of butterflies from these plants.

Both the short fruited cowpea and the long string beans have the same effects on lycaenids.

5. Urena lobata (our local term for this in my place is kulutan)

Urena lobata is just actually a weed in fallowed areas. They have strong roots and difficult to uproot by hands. They are normally growing lower than 1 meter. Those pink flowers are just around 1 cm in diameter. One will only appreciate the flowers when shot in macro, because of their size and only opens in one day. The small butterflies and skippers love nectaring on them too.


6. Wedelia trilobata (Singapore daisy)

These are just growing as weeds in our sidewalk, not even protected from any animals tethered in the area. Maybe they just escaped domestic plantings, as they are a bit invasive. The lycaenids are the normal butterflies seen nectaring on them, as well as occasional grass yellows,  skippers, Sailers, and Typical Sailers. 

left is a Tiny Grass Blue, Zizula hylax pygmaea and 
at right is a Gram Blue, Euchrysops cnejus cnejus 

a Grass Yellow on Wedelia

luscious growth of undisturbed Wedelia trilobata

7. Noid 

Sorry about this as i still canot find its ID. Eventualy when i find it or someone can tell me what it is, i will update the information. Thank you. 

It has always been with us for the longest time. Due to its small size, it is not particularly obvious to us and just considered weeds. However, small butterflies love nectaring on them.  


Lesser Grass Blue  Zizina otis oriens

8. Bidens alba

I just added the identity of this weed here, as i just asked someone in Singapore who just posted it. It has been found to be invading vacant spaces in many places here. In our area i observed it to be just there for the last couple of years, growing along street sides and marginal areas. The flowers are lovely, but it maybe colonizing areas and conquering the endemic species. I see some butterflies on them, but not as plenty as in the endemic species. 

I already know its identity, Bidens alba. My friend said it was brought by the Japanese here during the war as they eat the young leaves. Maybe it started somewhere and being invasive it is now in our property easily conquering most areas. It is also called Spanish needles, pitchfork weed, etc. It is true that the young shoots and leaves can be eaten as vegetables, as well as the petals. A reference said it saves the butterfly population in America because of its good production of nectar.

 a lycaenid, Lime Blue Chilades lajus athena  


  1. Lovely flowers, I think the yellow ones and the butterfly is my favourite.

    1. Just like Nick Morgan below, he likes the yellows and the blues.

  2. Ah, so many kids of blues and a grass yellow. Perfect!!

    1. Oh Nick we've seen a lot but most are on top of trees not allowing us to photograph them. I've posted all of them in my FB albums and Philep albums, for sure you've seen them there.

  3. Those are all beautiful plants, and I'm familiar with some of them. I really like the tiny flowers of the Lagundi. Your photos of the butterflies are lovely!

    1. Thanks much Beth. I also love those cute little weed flowers at the end, unfortunately i failed in knowing its identity.

  4. Gorgeous shots of flowers and butterflies!

  5. Vitex and Wedelia are quite common here . I didn't know they were butterfly attracters.Enjoyed reading your post.

  6. So many beauties. Your butterflies look like some of ours...


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