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.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, and good sleuthing, Steve! Interesting that your research turned up the plant's value to pollinators because one of the things that prompted me to ask you about it was that the one in my yard had lots of tiny little bees working away on it. I guessed that an exotic might not be as enticing. I'll let it go, and now the challenge will be to recognize others that might come up. I'm grateful for your putting in the time to figure it out!