Monday, March 9, 2009

Wildflowers and Butterflies

Our city is surrounded by low hills that's home to several
varieties of flora and fauna. I was in one of these areas
last Friday where lantana flourished, and where, even if you
were to click with your eyes closed, a butterfly would still
be captured in your frame.

I've not seen this butterfly before nor can I identify those
pretty blooms on that wild-looking plant.

In tropical countries, lantana is invasive. It is considered
to be one of the ten worst weeds in the world. It was intro-
duced in India as an ornamental plant in 1809 but the conditions
proved to be ideal for the plant to quickly spread all across
the country.

To me, the smell of this plant reminds me of the jungle. The
smell, despite being strong, is not unpleasant. And the blooms
are so colourful.

Wild Ipomoea. I've seen this before in the outskirts of the city.
But not in places where you could admire it, and get down on your
knees to photograph it.

The Common Jester. My first sighting of this species. We did
go around in little circles before I finally got this shot.

The many

colours of lantana

in the wild.

Is that a bird?

It's a spectacular-looking swallowtail. It's called the Crimson
Rose and it belongs to the genus Artrophaneura or red-bodied
swallowtails. This species is found in India and Sri Lanka.
About other neighbouring countries, I'm not sure.

Even the common blue butterfly didn't need any terms of
endearment to pose like this!

Everybody's making a beeline for these blooms!

A variety I don't recognize.

A Cruiser lands here too!

This striking yellow/black butterfly shot is blurry because
a vivid orange butterfly flew past me as I got ready to shoot.
You can see the blooms of the Coral tree in the background.

This is a sight(ing) I'll never forget.Among the 1500 species
of butterflies in the world, more than 550 species are found
in Assam.

I'd thought that I'd get to click a few species but this shows
how rich our surrounding hills are. And although the lantana is
considered to be a weed of the first order, the fact that it
draws these beautiful insects by the hundreds, is a thought
that comforts.


Anonymous said...

Looking at your pictures, I remember how amazed I was when we were in India years ago, and realized that flowers that were considered 'extremely difficult to grow', where just weeds in India...

tina said...

Yes, you truly have captured a very wide variety. That crimson looks to be big enough to be a bird. My goodness what a wing span! The lantana is pretty too, good thing it has a purpose-to provide for all the lovely butterflies.

islandgal246 said...

Kanak lantana is also a weed here it is also called sage here. It is a great butterfly attractor and it is used in butterfly gardens in Florida. I used to have a few growing in the garden but I dug them up. The dwarf blues and whites are very pretty as well as the dwarf yellow. They are used extensively in landscaping here on the island. They are very difficult to dig out in the wild since the roots go down very deep. They are great on slopes to prevent erosion. I have checked out your other sites and I must say you live in paradise. The culture of your region is fascinating The people are beautiful looking.

Wendy said...

I love lantana. I grow it in pots on our deck in summer. It's so pretty.
You've got some lovely shots of butterflies. Your country truly is beautiful.

Randy Emmitt said...

Envious of your butterflies there. The one you had not clue might be some kind of hairstreak. We have lantana and only one species will live year to year here, It is not a problem this far north,

Susie said...

Kanak you really captured some beautiful shots. That is most interesting about the lantana. We sell that at the nursery for $2.75 a 4" pot. It is one of the most popular plants for our hot summers. Do you have Kudzu in India? That is a plant that was brought over here to cut down on erosion from Japan(I think). It takes over everywhere and everything. The bloom smells wonderful though. It has a grape like fragrance.

Anonymous said...

What a thrill to see all these butterflies Kanak. Like Susie says, the Lantana grows well in our dry heat. We have a variety developed at Univ. of Georgia called Georgia Gold.

themanicgardener said...

I had no idea that lantana was invasive anywhere. Live and learn. That wild Ipomoea is gorgeous. I've never seen a yellow one. Thank you for another lovely post!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Anne, thanks for sharing....and for stopping by.

Tina, I brought lantana from my Chennai trip. In the nursery that I'd written about,it didn't look all that WILD. And then a wild one sprung up in my yard too. I've planted that in a pot for the butterflies. This is a first for me.

Helen, thank you for checking out the other sites. I'm sooo glad!
I didn't know that lantana can control erosion. I wonder if that is being done in India... I'll find out. Thanks for all that info. I have a pretty yellow variety that I got from south India. And with lantana, it's a first time for me.

Wendy, thank you so much! The plants on your deck must be really pretty!

Randy, I found out today that it's called a Punchinello/Zemeros flegyas apparently common around here. But I'd never seen it before. Now that you mention it, I see the similarity with hairstreaks.

Susie, thanks. I've seen a lot of lantana on other blogs and the first thing that comes to mind is ..'That doesn't look wild!' They look really lovely.

I've never heard about kudzu but after reading your comment, I googled. Wow, it grows and grows in the American south! I really won't be able to say about other parts of India but around here, there's no kudzu.

Mildred, Georgia Gold must be gorgeous! And yes, seeing so many of them was ...surreal.

Hi Kate, I'd noticed these yellow flowers from a distance but didn't think much about them. Thank goodness I had a chance of seeing them up close. They're really beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a pleasant week.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize how invasive Lantana could be in tropical areas of the world. Learn something new everyday. The butterflies really love the colorful blooms it sports though. Great pics today! ;)

Sunita said...

Fantastic, Kanak! So many butterflies! ... I'm so glad you could photograph them for all of us to enjoy too. Thanks!
Dont you wish all those butterflies would move into your garden? ... after the caterpillar stage, of course! ;D

Cinj said...

Those are some beautiful blooms and butterflies. Another good reminder that not everyone views weeds in quite the same way. One person's weed is another person's prized flower.

Thanks for your visit to my blog, it was very nice to meet you. I hope to run into you again sometime!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Racquel, thanks. A great attractor indeed!

Sunita, wish they would! I'd be out all day:) I hope I can share more butterfly pics in the near future. Glad to read your comment.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Hi Cinj, I think your message came as I was responding to Racquel's and Sunita's. Really nice to meet you too. And thanks for leaving this comment. I'll drop by soon...

Have a pleasant week!

My Mother's Garden said...

Hi Kanak~
How interesting that Lantana is considered one of the 10 worst weeds in the world. People actually pay to buy it here in Florida. I can see how it could be invasive as it does seem to grow just like a weed. It is so pretty though and I just love the smell of the leaves. Pretty Ipomea too...I don't recall seeing it in yellow before. Loved your post today, it was very interesting!

Chandramouli S said...

550 species! :O That'd be heaven. I love all the wild blooms. Great photos, Kanak! Oh, I can never grow tired of Lantana. Aren't they the sweetest! The Ipomoea looks great too.

Karen said...

Wow, those are some amazing butterflies! I've never seen a red-bodied one, I'll have to look for more info on that. Sad when garden introductions run rampant in the wild - happened here too with the Himalayan blackberry, it's everywhere and impossible to eradicate. At least lantana smells nice and make the butterflies happy, as you say.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Karrita, thanks! In my hometown we always had lantana somewhere in the vicinity. And on roadsides too. It's only recently that I read about every part of the plant being toxic. That's a new thing to me because we always had the berries...really sweet. Even when I clicked these pictures I was eating them! I love the smell of lantana too!

I guess yellow isn't common with Ipomoeas. Glad to read your comment.

Chandramouli, I got the yellow variety from Chennai. Added lantana for the first time to my collection.

About the number of butterfly species, the web-sites differ. It could be more or it could be less! But the very fact that I got these shots all within an hour speaks for the diversity.

Karen, I couldn't believe I was actually seeing the Crimson Rose! I'd seen it on webshots but when it came flying like a bird, I gaped for a few seconds before remembering to click! The biggest and the most spectacular-looking butterfly I've ever seen!

You mention the H. blackberry. I read about the kudzu too. Susie wrote about it in her comment.

Karen said...

What a peaceful view! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures.

HelenJ said...

Such lovely flowers and butterflies! It's hard to imagine that these tropical, exotic flowers and creatures are common like weeds in India.
I especially love the Iantana.
Have a nice weekend.

walk2write said...

That is one fantastic shot of the Crimson Rose, Kanak! I'll bet you held your breath while taking the pic, hoping it wouldn't fly away. The lantana can be invasive here in FL too. I planted one a few years ago which was supposed to remain small. It never got very tall, but it began to spread all over the flower bed and choke out some other plants. I finally dug it up last fall, and I bet I'll be seeing it sprout up this spring from some root remnants left behind. Oh well! It has beautiful purple blooms, and it does attract the butterflies.

Tessa at Blunder's with shoots, blossoms 'n roots said...

I love your photos! The colors- just beautiful. Funny that you have Lantana and it is a weed in tropical areas! I'm attempting to start them from seed and they take 40-60 days to germinate! I did have one, um, something germinate- but I'm thinking it is a weed! I'm keeping it just in case it is Lantana. I guess you'd be the one to ask if you can identify a Lantana seedling? Or if you have a photo of one? And of course if you have any advice on starting them!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Hi Karen, happy to see you here. And thank you for stopping by.

Helen....and we go gaga over flowers from YOUR side! These flowers are pretty and plentiful but I've never seen as many butterflies concentrated in one area. After photographing them, I'm gradually learning their names as well.

New ones come to my small garden every day. If I get a photo of one, my urge to be after that species comes down. Then I happily concentrate on the next!

W2W, oh I did! I think I even forgot to use 'zoom'! It came flapping like a bird with huge wings!!
I've got two lantana plants now and both are in pots. Thinking about how deep the roots can go, I dare not plant them on the ground.

Hi Tessa, thank you so much! But with the seedling and the growing...I've never done it. I don't have a photo of a seedling but I can identify a li'l lantana.

For the first time, in early January, I bought a yellow variety from a nursery in south India. It's blooming beautifully now. And the other came from (most likely) a bird-dropping. And it's not for the first time. I've pulled them up and unceremoniously discarded them...all because I couldn't think of lantana as anything but WEED!

Now the butterflies... and seeing lantana on Blotanical has changed my attitude somewhat. Tessa, just go ahead as you would with other seeds. We've never started them from seeds...I mean, these would be weed seeds! Now I'm glad I kept the gift from the birds for the butterflies. Hmm..subject of a future post!
Thank you for stopping by.

Kim said...

I grew up with lantana as a little girl in Bangladesh. We always called it "Snake Flowers--" I'm not precisely sure why. I never heard it called lantana until I lived in Texas. And there you must buy it at a nursery. It was good to see a whole riot of it here on your blog!