Gray Hairstreak on Carolina Redroot

Pollinator Playground: Carolina Redroot

Dateline: August 23, 2013*

Gulf Fritillary Butterflies (Agraulis vanillae) couldn’t get enough of the Carolina Redroot this weekcaroliana)

The redroot is in full blooming swing and the arthropods are showing their appreciation with their mass flocking to this pollinator magnet.

Gray Hairstreak Butterflies (Strymon melinus) love it

Carolina redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana) is a member of the Bloodwort family and an indicator of wetlands. Native to the coastal areas of the eastern US, in the northeast it is listed as threatened and endangered in much of the area, which may account for the fact that I wasn’t aware of this beauty until I got to Florida.

Leaves of Carolina Redroot provide interesting textures in the garden while they expand

The sword-shaped leaves remind me of iris and I remember when I first got out here to my property I patiently waited for the “irises” to bloom.  I was a little perplexed as the inflorescence began to unfold.

Not showy in a traditional sense, Carolina Redroot has a beauty all its own

At first I thought them rather homely, but then they showed what they are made of, by being a virtual playground for butterflies, bees, wasps, spiders and more.

Scoliid Wasp (Campsomeris plumipes) drink in the nectar

They can be quite stately some reaching heights of three foot.  They look fabulous as a mass planting that they can achieve on their own as they spread by rhizomes as well as seed.

Pollinator Playground for this Sweat Bee

Tolerant and appreciative of flooding, they also stand up to drought so if you find some, might be a great addition to a rain garden.

This naturally restored redroot grouping will be the anchor of a new pollinator area

The seeds are a favorite of Sandhill Cranes, a threatened species here in Florida and the roots are sort after by feral hogs, who have been known to destroy areas to satisfy their cravings.

Dragonflies join the party in Carolina Redroot

The common name is based on the use of the roots as a dye that, when I experimented, produced an interesting tan leaning towards light rootbeer coloring.  Subtle and pretty.

Green Lynx Spiders (Peucetia viridans) find it a great place to dine and raise their young

Perhaps, in the traditional sense, not the showiest of flowers…that is until they attract all that wildlife.

This Delaware Skipper Butterfly (Anatrytone logan) gives Carolina Redroot a rave review

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on August 23, 2013 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

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