Butterfly Gardens

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Margaret Huffman

with additions from Trish Meyer.


A butterfly garden can do several things. Perhaps most important, it can add to your enjoyment of nature and that of your friends and family. It can attract many different kinds of butterflies or attract bees and other pollinators as well as butterflies. You can use it to raise butterflies or help children learn about nature. And a butterfly garden can help restore the natural environment.

Undoubtedly you think butterflies are very beautiful creatures, with their bright colors and graceful flight. No doubt you also know you'll have even more fun if you can identify some of the more common ones -- perhaps you already know them! The first step is to help you get acquainted with the butterflies you can expect to attract. Next, we'll identify plants that may attract these butterflies.

Los Angeles ought to have lots of butterflies because it's semi-tropical, and, indeed, more than 100 kinds of butterflies live in the Los Angeles area. Several entomologists have done extensive field work around Los Angeles. Luckily, two of them have supplied us with useful publications. Rudi Mattoni's The Butterflies of Greater Los Angeles shows more than 100 species and notes which is likely to come to your garden by showing a G immediately following the butterfly's name. He includes other useful information such as the flight time and the butterfly's food plant.

Julian Donahue's recent Butterfly Gardening in Southern California (published by the Natural History Museum) includes lovely photos of the most common butterflies and several likely to be found in nearby wild areas. It also discusses useful plants for L.A. butterfly gardens. I recommend both of these publications without hesitation.


Here's a list of butterflies that frequent Los Angeles parks and home gardens:

1. Anise Swallowtail
2. Western Tiger Swallowtail
3. Cabbage White
4. Checkered White
5. Orange Sulfur
6. Cloudless Sulfur
7. Sleepy Orange
8. Monarch
9. Gulf Fritillary
10. Red Admiral
11. Painted Lady
12. West Coast Lady
13. American Lady
14. Mourning Cloak
15. Common Buckeye
16. Gray Hairstreak
17. Marine Blue
18. Fiery Skipper
19. Umber Skipper
20. Funereal Duskywing
21. White Checkered-skipper

        Many people who enjoy butterflies catch them in nets so they can examine them at close range. Doing this without damaging delicate wings takes skill. Other people look at them through binoculars the way bird-watchers look at birds. As you notice butterflies more, you'll become more skillful at identifying them at a distance -- by general appearance, flight characteristics and habits.

Several garden butterflies may confuse people because they look similar to one another. Sometimes you'll need to look carefully to see the differences that distinguish them:

Western Tiger Swallowtail has lengthwise black stripes and is larger and more yellow than Anise Swallowtail.

Cloudless Sulfur is obviously larger than Orange Sulfur and floats or glides without flapping.

Note: Butterfly watchers use standard terminology to describe butterflies:

Forewings Forewings are the pair near the head; hindwings are the other pair.

West Coast Lady seems like a slightly smaller Painted Lady and the large blotch on the forewing is creamy yellow or light orange, not white.

More terminology: Butterfly watchers call the side of the butterfly that includes its legs under side; scientists also call it the ventral side. Upper side refers to the side that includes its back; scientists also call it the dorsal side.

American Lady also looks like a Painted Lady but it has two big spots on the under hind wing.

Checkered White looks like a smaller Cabbage White but it keeps closer to plants. Its underwings have checkered edges.

Umber Skipper flies like a Fiery Skipper, but is darker and slightly larger.

Being able to identify common butterflies makes butterfly-watching more fun. At the same time, knowing the butterflies helps you plan your butterfly garden. I'll discuss why this is true in a moment.

There 5 times more butterflies around Los Angeles than those I've listed, and some may visit your garden for brief periods, especially if you are near the wild place they live in. The striking Pale Swallowtail may wander in from brush-covered hills and mountains -- the chaparral and woodland. Variable Checkerspot likes monkeyflowers growing along streams in the chaparral. Wild stands of buckwheat often host Square-spotted Blue or Mormon Metalmark. Pretty little Sara Orangetips may flit in from uncultivated fields. Lovely Lorquin's Admiral lives around willow-lined streams, while look-alike California Sister stays near oak woodlands.


A butterfly garden needs two kinds of plants:

1) those whose flowers supply nectar for adult butterflies, and

2) those that supply food for butterfly caterpillars.

These are frequently not the same plants.


Many kinds of flowers can supply nectar for adult butterflies. The main requirements are for a surface the butterfly can perch on or cling to while feeding, lots of nectar and easy access to the nectar. For example, butterflies will sip from the flower of a wild rose, which is like an open cup, but they cannot get through the many, folded petals to the nectar of cultivated roses. In addition to having accessible nectar and good perching or clinging surfaces, good nectar plants produce abundant blooms to make it easy for butterflies to find and use the nectar.

Plants whose flowers supply abundant, accessible nectar and good perching or clinging surfaces are called nectar plants. Unlike people, butterflies really don't care whether the flowers are pretty or especially showy.

Many plants meet these requirements. I've included a few of the more popular ones on the first table. I've noted several of them with a C: to indicate that they are cultivars. You'll find these in commercial nurseries because they have been bred over the years for garden cultivation and are easy to grow. Probably the simplest way to get started on a butterfly garden is to plant one or a few of these, if you don't grow them already.

I've also noted several plants with an N: to indicate that they are native to the Los Angeles area. They are all excellent nectar plants and I've included them for additional reasons that will become clear in a moment.


We all know that butterflies emerge from pupae (cases) that caterpillars make to protect themselves while they change from caterpillars to beautiful adults.

Caterpillars eat plants or parts of plants like buds or blossoms, but not just any plant will grow a healthy adult butterfly. Caterpillars of a particular kind of butterfly thrive only on particular kinds of plants. Therefore, you'll have much more consistent success in attracting butterflies if you include their caterpillar plants as well as plants supplying nectar for adult butterflies.

Caterpillars of almost all L.A. garden butterflies require plants native to southern California, or close relatives of these plants, to thrive. This is because most plants contain poisons to defend themselves from being eaten. For example, oaks contain tannins, which are bitter substances the California Indians learned to remove before they prepared food from acorn meal.

Over millions of years, particular species of caterpillars adapted to tolerate the poisons in particular plants. Thus, milkweeds contain poisonous alkaloids that evolution equipped Monarch caterpillars to tolerate. These alkaloids make Monarch caterpillars and adults distasteful to birds and other predators.

Caterpillars of another kind of butterfly, such as Anise Swallowtail, can't tolerate the poisons in milkweeds but can tolerate poisons in another kind of plant, such as members of the parseley family.

It shouldn't be surprising, then, that caterpillars of most kinds of butterflies native to the Los Angeles area require particular kinds of native plants thrive. The main reason we have so few butterflies is because we have wiped out so many of the native plants their caterpillars need.

This is true of many other insects. In general, a native plant supports several times more species of insects and other fauna like birds and mammals than a cultivar supports. In fact, lots of cultivars have been bred because of their resistance to insects, butterfly caterpillars included!

The tragedy is that we DON'T KNOW what most of the interactions are among the native plants and the insects, birds and other creatures that depend on them and may never know if we continue to destroy the native habitats.

Most L.A. gardeners come from somewhere else, are unfamiliar with our local natives and rely on the nursery trade for imported cultivars. This means that few nurseries stock native plants. To help those of you who want to grow natives, I've noted where you can find the ones I mention.

Many caterpillar plants are also nectar plants, so you can get 2-for-1, that is, support both adult butterflies and caterpillars with the same plant. The second table lists some of the best of these. Also shown are the caterpillars the plant feeds.

I've also made a table of plants that are strictly caterpillar plants because several of these support caterpillars, like the Red Admiral, Mourning Cloak, and Common Buckeye, that don't appear on the dual-purpose list.

Many more butterfly-friendly plants than those on the tables are native to the Los Angeles area. I've attached a supplementary list of these for those of you who are interested in native plants and want to help all of our wild creatures by growing them.


Margaret Huffman


Note: C = cultivar; N = Native to southern California

C: Abelia, Glossy Abelia grandiflora June - Oct Evergreen shrub, 8' x 5'. Very leafy with many small, pinkish flowers. Sun to part shade. Moderate water Commercial Nurseries
C: Bougainvillea Bougain-villea Spring - Fall Evergreen, tall, shrubby vine. Nectar-rich, inconspicuous flowers surrounded by showy bracts in shades of red, pink, or orange. Sun to part shade. Little water once established. Commercial Nurseries
C: Butterfly Bush Recommended selection: Lochinch Buddleia davidii Mid Summer Evergreen shrub or small tree to 10.' Tapering bunches of small, fragrant flowers. Color pale blue. Butterflies can't use selections with long, tubular flowers. Good drainage and enough water to maintain growth. Some plants may be attacked by leaf-rolling moth larvae. DON’T use insecticide to kill these! DON'T plant near riparian areas, where it becomes a weed. Commercial Nurseries
N: Cleveland Sage Salvia clevelandii Apr - July Spreading shrub 3' to 6' high. Many nectar-rich, blue or lavender flowers. Foliage highly aromatic. Allow to go to seed for small birds to enjoy. Full sun, excellent drainage, needs no water once established but tolerates some summer water. Cut back to 1' after seeds have ripened. Native Plant Nurseries
N: Common Sunflower Helianthus annuus May - Dec Annual. To 5’ tall. 3 in blooms. Large butterflies like this. Leave seeds on plant for goldfinches. Full sun. Moderate water. Best grown from seed in place. Theodore Payne
N: Coyote Brush, Dwarf Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis Aug - Nov or Dec Evergreen shrub. Height and width depend on variety selected. 3' - 12' high. Leafy with many small flower heads. Full sun. No water along coast once established; monthly watering inland. Thin and cut back in early spring. Native Plant Nurseries
N: Coyote Mint Monardella odoratissima All Year Perennial evergreen herb 1’ - 2’ tall with 1.5 in lavender flowers. Long bloom period. Rabbits and other mammals don’t eat this. Full sun. Little water along coast once established; bi-weekly watering inland. Cut back to control legginess. Matilija
C: Lantana Lantana camara L. montevi-densis All Year Evergreen, vining shrub or ground cover. Yellow, orange, red, lilac, white or magenta flowers. Birds eat the seeds. Full sun; infrequent, deep water. Gets mildew in shade or continued overcast. DON'T plant within 1 mile of natural areas, where it becomes a weed. Commercial Nurseries
C: Mexican Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia   Annual. To 5’ tall. Large butterflies like this. Blooms from summer to frost. Leave seeds on plant for goldfinches. Full sun. Regular water. Best grown from seed in place. Commercial Nurseries
N: Mule Fat Baccharis salicifolia All Year Evergreen shrub to 12.' Many small, white, nectar-rich flowers in terminal, compound heads. VERY attractive to large butterflies. Sun or part shade. Needs deep water. Native Plant Nurseries
C: Pincushion Flower Scabiosa columbaria Spring - Late Fall Perennial. Flower stems to 2 1/2'. Flower heads to 3" across. Lavender blue, pink or white . Full sun. Moderate water. Dead-heading and feeding encourage bloom.  



C: Blue-crown Passionflower Some other species highly invasive; some unattractive to caterpillars. Passiflora caerulea Summer Evergreen vine with greenish white and purple flowers, insipid, small, orange fruit. Full sun, moderate water. Prune annually after second year. If ants attack caterpillars replant vine in pots set in water. Gulf Fritillary Commercial Nurseries
C: Brazilian Milkweed, also Butterflyweed Asclepias curassavica, A. tuberose May - Dec Hardy perennial to 3 1/4 ‘ with profuse, orange and yellow flowers whose nectar is relished by Swallowtails, Gray Hairstreak, and other butterflies. Full sun. Moderate water. Cut back to 1’ after flowering. Ignore aphids. Monarch Commercial Nurseries
N: California Buckwheat Eriogonum fasciculatum May - Oct Shrub to 3' high by 4' wide. White or pinkish flowers in headlike clusters. Full sun, no water once established. A little water inland in summer. Resents overhead watering. Gray Hairstreak, Acmon Blue,* Square-spotted Blue* Native Plant Nurseries
C: Cape Plumbago Plumbago auriculata All Year Sprawling, mounding bush or vine to 6' - 12' tall (with support), 8' - 10' wide with white to light-blue flowers in phloxlike clusters Full sun, good drainage, very little water once established. Gray Hairstreak, Marine Blue Commercial Nurseries
N: Deerweed Lotus scoparius All Year Pretty, lacy, evergreen shrub 3' x 3', with small leaves and small, yellow pea-like flowers. Full sun, little water once established. Short-lived, especially if watered too much after established. Orange Sulfur, Gray Hairstreak, Funereal Duskywing, Acmon,* Silvery* & Marine Blues, Bramble Hairstreak* SOKA Tarweed
N: Dune Buckwheat E. parvifolium June -Dec Similar to California Buckwheat but with a leafy, lacy look See California Buckwheat. More tolerant of water. Gray Hairstreak, Acmon Blue,* El Segundo Blue* .Native Plant Nurseries
N: Narrow-leafed Milkweed A. fascicularis June - Sept Perennial herb, erect, 3' high with a sparse appearance. Many pink buds and greenish-white flowers Full sun, no water once established. Cut back to near ground after flowering. Monarch, Queen Native Plant Nurseries
N: Woolly Aster and variety Silver Carpet Lessingia filaginifolia June -Dec Perennial small shrub or ground cover, 1' x 3'. Entire plant is white-wooly. Showy lavender flowers very attractive to medium-small butterflies. Sun. Tolerates summer water. Gabb's Checkerspot.* Native Plant Nurseries.

* Not a garden butterfly, but may visit a garden near a wild area.


N: Arroyo Willow Salix lasiolepis Small, branching tree 10' - 18' tall. Very fast growing. Needs ground water but tolerates summer drought. Mourning Cloak, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Lorquin's Admiral,* Sylvan Hairstreak* Native Plant Nurseries
C: Baby's Tears (a member of the nettle family!) Soleirolia soleirolii Creeping plant with tiny round leaves makes lush, 1" - 4" high, medium green mats. Shade or some sun near coast. Water through dry season. Red Admiral Commercial Nurseries
N: California Sycamore Platanus racemosa Deciduous tree 30' to 75' tall with huge, often leaning, trunk and wide spreading branches Needs ample, deep ground water but not surface watering Western Tiger Swallowtail Many nurseries
N: Checkerbloom Sidalcea malvaeflora Perennial, branched herb, 1/2' - 2' high, with rounded basal leaves and deeply cleft upper leaves. Showy, 1 1/2,” rose-pink flowers Full sun or part shade. Water once a week after established. Warning: Deer love it. Painted Lady, West Coast Lady, Gray Hairstreak, Common Checkered-skipper Native Plant Nurseries
N: Coast Live Oak Quercus agrifolia Tall evergreen tree to 75' No water. Plant nothing under it that needs water. Mournful Duskywing, California Sister* Many nurseries
N: Creek Monkeyflower Mimulus guttatus Spreading ground cover to 1/2' high with bright yellow, showy flowers from Mar thru Aug. Sun. Ample water. Common Buckeye, Variable Checkerspot* Native Plant Nurseries
N: Fragrant Everlasting Gnaphallium canescens Herbaceous perennial with silvery leaves to 1 1/2' x 2', white chaffy flowers in compact heads Full sun to part shade. Infrequent water. Excellent drainage. American Lady Native Plant Nurseries
C: French Parsley Petroselinum crispum Annual herb 6” - 12” high with tightly curled leaves. Full sun to part shade. Regular water. Set out small plants or sow seed in place. Let a few go to seed to reseed. Anise Swallowtail Commercial Nurseries
N: Southern California Locoweed Astragalus trichopodus Bushy subshrub 8" to 2' 'high x 2' wide. Full sun, excellent drainage, no water once established. Marine Blue (one of the original native plants for this species). SOKA
N: Sticky Monkeyflower Mimulus aurantiacus Bushy subshrub 2' high x 2’ wide with orange or red, showy flowers almost all year. Sun. Moderate water. Cut back hard after flowering and reduce water. Common Buckeye, Variable Checkerspot* Native Plant Nurseries

* Not a garden butterfly, but may visit a garden near a wild area.



Mule Fat Baccharis salicifolia All Year Tar
Deerweed Lotus scoparius All Year Lasp, Tar. SEED: Payn
Telegraph Weed Heterotheca grandiflora All Year No source
Wild Sweet Pea Lathyrusvestitus (formerly laetiflorus) February - June SEED: Payn
Arroyo Lupine Lupinus succulentus February - May SEED: Larn Payne, S&S Seeds
Common Fiddleneck Amsinkia intermedia February - May No source
Golden Yarrow Eriophyllum confertiflorum March - August Lasp, Tar. SEED: Payn, S&S
Cobweb Thistle Cirsium occidentale March - July Lasp
Large-flowered Popcorn Flower Cryptantha intermedia March - June No source
Tomcat Clover Trifolium wildenovii (formerly tridentatum)] March - June SEED: S&S
Holly-leafed Cherry Prunus ilicifolia March - May Lasp, Tar
Graceful (or Slender) Sunflower Helianthus gracilentum April - October Lasp, Tar
California Buckwheat Eriogonum fasciculatum April - October Lasp, Tar. SEED: S&S
Gumplant Grindelia robusta April - October No source
Sea-cliff Buckwheat Eriogonum parvifolium April - October Lasp. SEED: Payn, S&S
Verbena Verbena lasiostachys April - October Tar
Wild Heliotrope Heliotropum curassivacum April - October No source
Black Sage Salvia mellifera April - July Tar
White Sage Salvia apiana April - July Lasp, Tar. SEED: Larn, Payn, S&S
Conejo (or Saffron) Buckwheat Eriogonum crocatum April - July Lasp
Common Yarrow Achillea millefolium April - June Lasp, Larn, Tar
American Vetch Vicia americana April - June No source
Bush Lupine Lupinus longifolius April - June Tar
California Thistle Cirsium californicum April - June No source
Sticky Cinquefoil Potentilla glandulosa April - June Tar SEED: Payn
Winter Cress (Wet area) Barbarea orthoceras April - June No source
Snowberry Symphoricarpos mollis April - May Lasp, Tar
Chaparral Honeysuckle Lonicera subspicata April - May Tar
Globe Gilia Gilia capitata April - May SEED: Larn, Payn, S&S
Thickleaf Yerba Santa Eriodyction crassifolium April - May Tar. SEED: Payn, S&S
Narrowleaf Milkweed Asclepias fascicularis May - October Lasp, Tar
Frogfruit Phyla lanceolata May - October No source
Spanish Clover Lotus purshianus May - September No source
Indian Milkweed Asclepias eriocarpa May - August Lasp
Mustang Mint Monardella lanceolata May - August No source
False Indigo Amorpha californica May - July Lasp SEED: call Payn
Summer Lupine Lupinus formosus May - July No source
Purple Sage Salvia leucophylla May - July Lasp, Tar
Fleabane Aster Erigeron foliosus May - June Tar
Sneezeweed (Wet area) Helenium puberulum June - October No source
Bush Groundsel Senecio douglasii June - November No source
Indian Hemp Apocynum cannabinum June - August No source
Sea Lavender Limonium californicum July - December SEED: S&S
California Butterweed Senecio californicus July - October No source
Wooly Aster Lessingia filaginifolia July - October Tar
Monardella Monardella hypoleuca July - September Lasp
Coyotebrush Baccharis pilularis August - November Payn, S&SLarn, Lasp, Tar. SEED: Larn
Sawtooth Goldenbush Hazardia   (formerly Haplopappus) squarrosa) August - November SEED: Payn, S&S
Wand Buckwheat Eriogonum elongatum August - November Lasp
Chrysothamnus nauseosus September-October Lasp SEED: Payn, S&S



Admiral, Red Hoary Nettle(Urtica dioica holosericea) SEED: S&S
Buckeye, Common California Plantain (Plantago erecta) No source
Also the food plant for the endangered Quino Checkerspot)
Creek Monkey Flower (Mimulus guttatus) Larn, Tar SEED: Larn, S&S
Blue, Marine Wild Sweet Pea [Lathyrus vestitus (formerly laetiflorus)] SEED: Payn
Southern California Locoweed (Astragalus trichopodus) No source
False indigo (Amorpha californica) Tar
Duskywing, Funereal Deerweed (Lotus scoparius) Lasp, Tar SEED: Payn
Hairstreak, Gray False Indigo (Amorpha californica) No source
Ashy-leaf Buckwheat (Eriogonum cinereum) Lasp, Tar SEED: Payn, S&S
Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) Lasp SEED: Payn
Wand Buckwheat (Eriogonum elongatum) Tar
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) Lasp, Tar SEED: S&S
Sea Cliff Buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium) Lasp SEED: Payn, S&S
Wright's Buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii) Lasp
Lady, American Two-tone Everlasting (Gnaphalium bicolor) Tar
Green Everlasting californicum) SEED: Payn, S&S
Sonora Everlasting (Gnaphalium leucocephalum) No source
Pink Everlasting (Gnaphalium ramosissimum) No source
Cotton-batting Plant [Gnaphalium stramineum (formerly chilense)] No source
Lady, Painted PREFERRED: California Thistle (Cirsium californicum) No source
or Red Thistle (Cirsium occidentale) Lasp SEED: Payn
Broad Leafed Lupine (Lupinus latifolius) Tar
Bush Lupine (Lupinus longiflorus) Tar
Others during population explosions
Lady, West Coast Checkers (Sidalcea malvaeflora) Larn, Lasp SEED: Larn
Monarch Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) Payn
Narrow-leafed Milkweed (Asclepias fasicularis) Tar, Payn
California Milkweed (Asclepias californica) No source
Mourning Cloak Red (or Black) Willow (Salix laevigata) Lasp
Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis) Lasp, Tar
Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) Lasp, Tar
Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) Lasp
Checkered- Checkers (Sidalcea malvaeflora) Larn, Lasp  SEED: Larn
skipper, White ssps sparsifolia Santa Monica Mts. GOR
Skipper, Umber
  Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia sespitosa) Lasp SEED: Larn, S&S
Sulfur, Orange Deerweed (Lotus Scoparius) Lasp, Tar.  Payn
Swallowtail, Anise Southern Tauschia (Tauschia arguta) No source
Wooly Lomatium (Lomatium dasycarpum) No source
Shiny Lomatium (Lomatium lucidum) No source
Hog Fennel (utriculatum) SEED: seed suppliers in WA & OR
Water Parseley (Lomatium sarmentosa) As above
Swallowtail, Western Tiger  Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) Lasp, Tar, Payn
Red (or Black) Willow (Salix laevigata) Lasp
Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis) Lasp, Tar
Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) Lasp, Tar
Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) Lasp
White, Cabbage Tansy Mustard (Descurania pinnata) SEED: Vss
White, Checkered Tansy Mustard (Descurania pinnata) SEED: Vss



GOR Green Oak Ranch 1237 Green Oak Rd, Vista CA 92083 760-727-0251
Larn Larner Seeds PO Box 407, Bolinas, CA 94924 415-868-9407
L Las Pilitas 3232 Las Pilitas Rd. Santa Margarita, CA 93453 805-438-5992
Mat Matilija  8225 Waters Rd, Moorpark, CA 93021 805-523-8604
Payn Theodore Payne 10459 Tuxford St, Sun Valley, CA 91352 818-768-1802
S&S S&S Seeds PO Box 1275, Carpinteria, CA  93013 805-684-0436 http://www.ssseeds.com/
SOKA   SOKA University  26800 W Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 818-878-3741
Tar    Tarweed 23539 Knapp Way, Chatsworth Lake, CA 91311 818-888-2318
Tree    Tree of Life PO Box 635, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693 949-728-0685 http://www.treeoflifenursery.com/
Vss Valley Seed Service PO Box 9335, Fresno, CA 937PO Box 1275, Carpinteria, CA 93013 805-684-043691 209-435-2163


Brenzel, Kathleen N. (ed.) 1995. SUNSET Western Garden Book.

Donahue, Julian P. 1999. Butterfly Gardening in Southern California.

Emmel, Thomas C. and John F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California.

McAuley, Milt. 1985. Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains

Mattoni, Rudi. 1984. Butterflies of Greater Los Angeles.

Opler, Paul. 1999. Field Guide to Western Butterflies.

Raven, Peter H., Henry J. Thompson, and Barry A. Prigge. 1977. Flora of the Santa Monica Mountains, California.

Schmidt, Marjorie. 1980. Growing California Native Plants.

Scott, James A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America.

Shank, Dale (ed.) 1998. "Plant and Seed Directory," HORTUS West.

Xerces Society. 1998. Butterfly Gardening. Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden.

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   Charmlee Butterfly Garden

   The focus is on nectar plants for adult butterflies and plants Charmlee caterpillars like to munch on, including milkweeds, buckwheats, ceanothus (wild lilac), deerweed, and Mountain Mahogany. Initial funding from the Charmlee Foundation, CNPS and LANABA.   

Plant Genus/species Plant Type Bloom    Period    Butterfly Activity, etc.
Mimulus aurantiacus Native perennial
Mar thru Jul Food plant for Variable Checkerspot Butterfly. Hum- mingbirds also sip the nectar.
White Sage
Salvia apiana Perennial sub-shrub Apr thru Jul Native to the Santa Monica Mountains but not found in Charmlee. Butterflies sip the nectar. Chumash Indians use the leaves in religious ceremonies.
Black  Sage Salvia mellifera Native perennial sub-shrub Apr thru Jul Butterflies sip the abundant nectar
Purple Sage Salvia leucophylla Native perennial sub-shrub May thru Jul Butterflies sip the abundant nectar
Winifred Gillman 
Garden selection of Cleveland Sage Perennial
May thru Aug Cleveland Sage is
native to coast south of Los Angeles. Sniff the fragrant leaves. Adult butterflies sip the abundant nectar
Baccharis pilularis Perennial woody shrub Aug thru Dec Native to the Santa Monica Mountains but not found in Charmlee. Adult butterflies sip the abundant nectar. Grows tall enough to attract Swallowtail and Monarch Butterflies.
Eriophyllum confertiflorum Native perennial
small shrub
Mar thru Aug Butterflies sip the nectar
Gumplant Grindelia
Native perennial
Mar thru Sep  Butterflies sip the nectar
Lessingia filaginagolia Native perennial,
small shrub, white-wooly when flowering
Jun thru Dec Butterflies sip the nectar
Two-tone Everlasting Gnaphalium
Native perennial
Jan thru Apr  Entire plant is aromatic. Food for caterpillars of American Lady Butterfly
Native perennial shrub Feb thru Jun Adult butterflies sip the nectar of the aromatic blossoms. Food plant of the Fatal Metalmark Butterfly
Deerweed Lotus
Native perennial green-
All year. Dominant shrub 2nd
year after fire.
Adult butterflies sip the nectar. Food plant for caterpillars of Bramble Hair- -streak, Funereal Duskywing Orange Sulfur, Gray Hair- streak, Acmon Blue, Marine Blue, Silvery Blue and Western Tailed Blue Butterflies. The best butterfly plant in
southern California
Greenbark Ceanothus Ceanothus
Native, tall shrub
or small tree
Feb thru May Food for caterpillars of Pale Swallowtail, Hedgerow Hair- streak, Brown Elf in and Spring Azure Butterflies and of the spectacular Ceanothus Silk Moth
Ceanothus Yankee
Evergreen ground cover.  Garden selection, not native
to the Santa Monica Mountains
Mar or Apr Food for caterpillars of Pale Swallowtail, Hedgerow Hair- streak, Brown Elfin and Spring Azure
butterflies and of the spectacular Ceanothus  Silk Moth 
California Buckwheat Eriogonum fasciculatum Native woody
 May through November Butterflies sip nectar. Food for caterpillars of Mormon Metal- mark, Bramble Hairstreak ,Gray Hairstreak,  Acmon Blue and Square-  spotted Blue Butterflies