One of the plants I scored at the native plant auction earlier this week is a real workhorse in the garden: Passiflora suberosa, Corkystem passionvine. It’s one of our two native passionvines. Not as showy as its cousin, P. incarnata (the “maypop” vine), it is nonetheless also a larval food plant for three species of butterfly in Florida: Gulf fritillary, Julia heliconian, and Zebra heliconian. I’ve had several generations of Gulf fritillaries on the maypop at the old house; I’m hoping for many more to come on the corkystem here at the new digs…
Here’s what the maypop looked like at my house in 2009:
Here’s what the corkystem flower will look like (from the NABA information page about this vine):
Quite a difference, eh?
And here is what it looks like in my yard at the moment:
Unassuming, to be sure, but with loads of wildlife potential. According to the write-up in Coastal Dune Plants (the first of a 5-volume series of booklets detailing over 200 common plants in the ecosystems of South Florida; the other volumes are Coastal Hammock, Scrub, Flatwoods, and Wetlands),
Birds are fond of these fruits and are the main dispersers of the seeds, “planting” them in their droppings. Another animal relationship is with the zebra butterfly. This local representative of the tropical family Heliconidae lays its eggs only on passionflowers, the caterpillars feeding on them specifically. The plant has developed defenses against this onslaught, including poisons in the foliage and even the growing of “fake eggs” on the stem. If a female butterfly sees these, she will move on without laying her own eggs.
Quite a story, eh? I’ve not seen any fake eggs on mine (that I’m aware of), but I’ll keep looking!
I got another vine as well, a Jacquemontia, about which more later…