Dogbane Exposed

Dogbane photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
Curt first introduced me to Dogbane during a butterfly count (NABA?) many years ago in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. Dogbane is one of those ubiquitous wild flowering plants that just seem to always go unnoticed. That day Curt said that many butterflies rely heavily on the nectar produced by Dogbane. That information stuck in my head, and every season since, when I am in a field or meadow, I look for dogbane. I look for it because it is a destination for butterflies frustrated after having had little success locating milkweed or bergamot or the other wildflowers that share the same bloom times.

This Dogbane was growing strongly in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva peninsula in eastern Maryland. It’s about 90 feet from the shore of Chesapeake Bay. A great place to grow. We’re seeing it in May 2014. Dogbane blooms in June and July. At this time in August, the tiny flowers have been replaced by longish fruiting pods.

A wildflower that grows alongside the Asclepias milkweeds, and bergamots and thistles and other superstar nectar destinations, and does its part to make sure that all the butterflies, bees, moths and flies that just need a bit more sugary nectar . . . have just one more selection, if they so wish.