Saturday, September 4, 2010


South Florida has many varied habitats which support specific plants adapted to the varied plant environments. One of the best ways to learn your butterflies is to be aware of which butterflies live in each different ecosystem. One of these plant environments is the seashore where the soil is sandy, drains rapidly and salt air is prevalent. The leaves of the plants are likely small and the root systems of these plants are likely shallow. Some of the plants that support coastal butterflies are:

Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) - Mangrove Buckeye
Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) - Mangrove skipper
Seashore salt grass (Distichlis spicata) - Obscure skipper and
   Salt marsh skipper (rare)
Bay Cedar ( Suriana maritima) – Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak and Martial
Coinvine (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum) – Statira Sulphur
Saltwort (Batis maritima) – Eastern Pygmy Blue
Perennial Glasswort (Salicornia perennis) – Eastern Pygmy Blue
Nickerbean (Caesalpinia bonduc) – Miami Blue (rare), Ceraunus Blue,
   Martial Scrub-Hairstreak, and Nickerbean Blue (Keys only)
Coastal Searocket (Cakile lanceolata) – Great Southern White
Fanpetals (Sida acuta) – Gray Hairstreak, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak,
   Tropical Checkered Skipper, and  White Checkered Skipper
Saltmarsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) - Saltmarsh Skipper and
   Aaron’s Skipper
Silver Palm (Cocothrinax argentata) – Monk Skipper
Sleepy Morning (Waltheria indica) – Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak and
   Martial Scrub-Hairstreak
Coontie (Zamia pumila) – Atala
Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) - Mangrove Buckeye
  and Tropical Buckeye

A few coastal nectar plants are:
Wild Sage (Lantana involucrata)
Morinda (Morinda citrifolia)
Marsh fleabane (Pluchea odorata)
Seagrape (Cocoloba uvifera)
Sea ox-eye (Borrichia arborescens)

This is only an abbreviated list. When observing butterflies, note the plants they are using. For a list of butterfly plants found on Cape Florida, go to the Miami Blue website
A really great book to learn more about coastal plants is: Seashore Plants of South Florida and the Caribbean, A Guide to Knowing and Growing Drought and Salt-Tolerant Plants, David W. Nellis, Pineapple Press, Inc., copywrite 1994.

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