Flowers of the Air
June 13, 2010 § 1 Comment
This beautiful Summer Azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon ‘neglecta’), seen in our Gloucester garden, is ovipositing eggs amongst the buds of native meadowsweet (Spirea latifolia).
She tightly curls her abdomen in a c-shape and deposits her eggs amongst the unopened flower buds, while pausing every now and then to drink nectar from the opened florets. Just as many species of milkweed plants (Asclepias) are utilized by Monarch butterflies, to both take nectar from the florets and as a larval host plant for their caterpillars, the blossoms of meadowsweet provide nectar and the foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Summer Azure butterfly.
Plant native meadowsweet near to where you will enjoy their delicately shaded rose-pink blossoms and the insects attracted. We grow ours along a sunny path and also grow a patch in the dappled shade cast by our pear trees. The plants sited in sun bear far more blossoms. The shrub grows fairly quickly, three to four feet high and equally as wide, and is easily divided. To create a tidy shape, prune lightly, in very early spring. Playing host to the azures, long season of blossoms, and lovely bright green and finely-cut foliage, meadowsweet is a fabulous native shrub for the ‘wild’ garden.