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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Butterflies and fudinites

To be able to love a butterfly…
We must care for a few caterpillars.
(author unknown)

We have a weed vine I call Honeyvine. It is Cynanchum laeve (perhaps more frequently known by its old scientific name, Ampelamus albidus); commonly known as honeyvine, honeyvine milkweed, or climbing milkweed. It is a milkweed although it does not have milky sap, but the seeds and seedpods are typical of the milkweed family. It can grow to ten feet; the blooms are loved by butterflies and insects, and have a wonderful sweet, honey scent that floats around.

I used to keep it cleared away, but as I have gotten older and less productive it gets filled out before I can catch up with it. After that point, I leave it for the butterflies. It can get quite tanglely and messy, but I’m more tolerant these days. When I have help in early spring I ask them to pull it. Later when we come across a missed plant, I explain that from now on, the vines should not be pulled for there may be butterfly eggs on them. Once they go to seed, to keep them from spreading, we remove the green seedpods, and send them to the landfill tied in a plastic bag before they ripen.

When one of my helpers a few years ago kept calling it fudinite vine, I finally said, “What?!” He replied, “That’s what my dad calls it… fudinite, because you pull it today and by morning it has grown a foot, a foot a night.” Ah… a-foot-a-night. Then I understood and had a good laugh.

You may recognize it. It is the heart-shaped leaf among the holly leaves.

It starts out as a young plant that looks like this:

Next thing you know, it is sprawling over other plants.

Then it climbs like this one climbing old evening primrose stalks in a scruffy area. (Enlarge photo to see it better.)

The blossoms are very fragrant with the honey-like scent. Here it is on top of the ground cover Gold Moss (Sedum acre).

I found this entry in my journal notes:
August 10, 2007: found 4 Monarch butterfly larvae, 3 on Honeyvine Milkweed, and 1 on dandelion!

It was the one on dandelion that surprised me.

Monarchs enjoy the nectar and lay eggs on Honeyvine.
(You may have to enlarge photo to see them.)

The first summer the vines got ahead of me, I soon noticed that every vine had eggs and babies. I called a halt to the pulling of the vines.

I took the next two photos.
Honeyvine was climbing into the holly tree.

Upon closer look, here is what I found,
a beautiful Monarch larva!


Anonymous said...

One woman's weed is a butterflies treasure. Just goes to show what we consider weeds are a vital part of nature. I love the shots of the caterpillars.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Barbee, great post. I love butterflies, but we rarely get any of them around here. If we are ever so lucky as to come across a larvae I will be sure to work around it. I used to be able to attract some with my Buddlia, but it outgrew its pot, and now lives somewhere else. I am thinking of planting some Monardia to attract them again.

Philip Bewley said...

This was a great post. First I was laughing at the "fudinite" plant( I don't think I can forget that term)and then I was doing a slow burn thinking about the clover in my lawn( arrived as a stray in a Filoli garden nursery plant. that plant died. I even forgot what it was) but the clover loved it! oh well.
Then! your treasure! We have not had a monarch in years. There was a terrible die off in Mexico a few years back. when we moved to the Monterey bay we had monarch festivals! they used to cover the cypress trees.
What a great thing to find!

Terra Hangen said...

The monarch butterfly larvae makes it all worthwhile.
I smiled when I read about fudinite. Funny!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...


Mother Nature said...

Because of your post, I will be more apt to spare the Honeyvine.

Steve said...

I also had a laugh about the "fudanite". In the North West, the same can be said about Morning Glory, considered by many as an invasive weed while others try and cultivate it. This should be called "The Secret Life Of Weeds And Our Love Hate Relationships With Them".

Balisha said...

I've had that in my yard too. Never knew what it was...just pulled it up.
We've had lots of monarchs this year and different moths.
I was replacing the hummingbird "juice" this AM and had several humming around me. Glad to see more of them.
Thanks for reading my blog and for your comments yesterday. I always learn so much here.

P.Price said...

Oh, monarchs....yay! Won't be too many more weeks and they'll head our direction on the way to Mexico.

Your 'pillar is a cutie...never knew they were so colorful.

Barbee' said...

Perennial Gardener (Virginia, U.S.A.): Thank you. I think it also shows how narrow is our vision and small our understanding. I used to think I knew a lot. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize how little I do know. If that makes sense.

Muddy Boot Dreams (British Columbia, Canada): Hi Jen, thank you, I am glad you enjoyed the post, and hope the butterflies return to your place. Maybe you are in the same flyway zone as Philip Bewley. Read Philip's comment.

philip bewley (California, U.S.A.): We visited the butterfly area near you (Pacifica ? ) years ago, but we were too early for the butterflies and couldn't afford to wait for them :) I have read the disturbing reports about the decline in their populations. I guess we are in the Florida flyway route. I do what I can. Oh,... and about your clover: I read that years ago the white blooming Dutch clover was a status symbol and much desired. Maybe you can think of it that way?

Terra Hangen (California, U.S.A.): Happy to have spread smiles! And, yes, it does make it all worth while, most gratifying. Guess I'm the only person in the neighborhood who allows weeds. I see the whole picture a little better than most... and I care. Care about it more than many people. Just hope I don't get cited by the city.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom (Texas, U.S.A.): Thanks for coming over :)

Mother Nature (Tennessee, U.S.A.): I am happy you stopped by. I have read that the roots can get large as a man's arm and runs along with new sprouts coming up from it; so they probably aren't separate plants. Even I do not let it go to seed. Once here, that is enough, don't want more. I guess the roots go everywhere.

Steve (Oregon, U.S.A.): I like that idea for a title. How about you write it up; you already have the title :) One good thing about this area, the ornamental morning glories get frozen out so they are annuals. There are some perennial weedy ones, but those are not the ones people grow.

Balisha (Illinois, U.S.A.): Thank you for bringing good news. I am so glad to hear about your hummingbirds and butterflies. Can you imagine those little things out in the storms we have been having this spring and summer.

P.Price (Texas, U.S.A.): I hope you get to count many, many monarchs floating through Texas! Yes, its larva is pretty and the pupa (or chrysalis) is too. It has a gold line around the green case. I have found them in my garden. I hoped to see one emerge so checked it daily, but one day it was empty. It takes about two weeks from caterpillar to butterfly.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

LOL - love the "fudanite"! I had no idea there was a vining milkweed. I've never found caterpillars on my milkweed, although it does attract the butterflies. I'm so glad you've found the caterpillars, that is so fun.

Barbee' said...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter (Illinois, U.S.A.): Oh, yes, that does make it fun. I don't know why there were no babies on yours. Maybe all your butterflies were daddies :) The way to tell: there are two dark scent glands on the lower wings. See this link: CLICK HERE

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm glad you leave it for the butterflies!

When I saw your title I couldn't imagine what a fudinite was, that's too cute!

Barbee' said...

Robin's Nesting Place (Indiana, U.S.A.): Thank you, Robin. They do have a hard way to go and need all the help they can get. :) I know, I didn't know what in the world he was saying. Too funny, he really got me on that one.

Karin A said...

Hi Barbee, well I have to admit that I don't recognize this type of milkweed...there are many kind of milkweeds which aren't hardy in Sweden. But I do like butterflies in the garden and the one in your post is a real beauty!


JGH said...

Beautiful - LOL about the Fudinite. We have something here in Nyack called the "mile-a-minute" vine and it's so invasive that troops of people go out to slash it along the highways. Lots of butterflies in my yard this week, too. Gotta get out there with the camera :-)

Kathleen said...

I think I would end up leaving it too if it was that attractive to the butterflies. Anything to make life better for them. Your posts are always so thoughtful and informative.

Barbee' said...

karin (Sweden): I am glad you enjoyed seeing it. I suspect you have some that I do not have here. A friend in Belgium has an abundance of butterflies in her garden, especially when the asters bloom.

Kathleen (Colorado, U.S.A.): Thank you, Kathleen, for the warm, positive feedback. :)

JGH (New York, U.S.A.): Oh, No! Mile-a-minute vine!! Wonder if I can Google that one and see what it looks like. I will give it a try. You have stirred my curiosity. (LATER) OK, I did, and found four different plants that go by that nickname. In your area that terrible one is Persicaria perfoliata (previously Polygonum perfoliatum). It is in the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). It is an annual that makes loads of seeds, and has wicked thorns, too. With P. perfoliata coming from the northeast and Kudzu coming from the south, I feel caught in the middle, and can't help but wonder when the two meet, who will win the war!