Sunday, December 18, 2011
Good vines deserve help for their wildlife value
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Anyone who cares about the future of monarch butterflies has to have Honeyvine milkweed (Cynanchum laeve) where it can climb and provide vegetation required by monarch caterpillars. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, it may climb to 20 feet on some trees. But in late fall one can pluck the seed pods to save and cut down the skinny little vine. It will come up from its roots in April or May and bloom sometime in summer on the extreme ends. A place where I had previously found it on the edge of a thicket near a stream bank was brush-hogged for the first time in many years and voila' some honeyvines came up all through the patch of now denuded ground and many monarch caterpillars prospered on it and many made their way to the nearest remaining shrubs and trees to form chrysalises in late summer and flew south in early and mid fall. It may be considered invasive in some places, but I have not seen evidence that it strangles any woody vegetation it climbs. It dies back and has to regrow, while the Japanese honeysuckle and a few other non-native vines live through the winter and actually kill saplings after a few years. I wish it were able to survive the winter and keep growing, but not in this climate. Lonicera sempervirens, the native trumpet honeysuckle vine, Cynanchum laeve and passionflower vines are excellent choices of low-maintenance fence or tree-line plantings with incredible wildlife (especially native bees, native flower flies and butterflies) value. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7295307@N02/6429137355/in/photostream/