Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Mini Honewort Flowers Feed Mini Pollinators
My friend Steven honed in on a 2-3 foot plant in the more jungly section of his backyard that I'd never encountered before. He sent a photo, and asked whether to pull it out or not. I eventually came up with Cryptotaenia canadensis, a.k.a. honewort--not to be confused with hornwort, an aquatic plant.
Honewort is a native that's in the carrot (Queen Anne's Lace) family. Its miniscule flowers cater to the needs of tiny pollinators, and its foliage feeds the black swallowtail butterfly, according to the description below, from the IllinoisWildflowers website. Sounds like a keeper.
"Faunal Associations: The nectar of the flowers attracts primarily small bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. This includes the parasitoid Ichneumonid wasps and Wild Carrot wasps (Gasteruptiidae). The caterpillars of the butterfly Papilio polyxenes asterias (Black Swallowtail) feed on the foliage of Honewort and many other members of the Carrot family."
(The Ichneumonid wasps mentioned above are harmless to people and can be useful for controlling insect pests in the garden.)