The Grand Central Station Wildflower

Large Clump of Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Official? Not yet, but Butterflyweed certainly ought to be the official Grand Central Station wildflower. For those 37 or so years that I lived in my native New York City, Grand Central Station, in the heart of New York, New York (Manhattan) was a building, whose cavernous main hall was, well, breathtaking! Huge beyond the meaning of the term, you knew it was heavily ornate, but by the time I moved from Long Island, much of its beauty was either covered over, or covered with decades of grime. People by the thousands hustled and bustled and ran to catch trains. It’s been rejuvenated since I left, cleaned and restored.

Butterflyweed is the wildflower parallel. Gorgeous when it’s in bloom, as it is here in Doak field last year, late June, at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. It’s the kind of plant that flourishes one year, and is nearly absent the next.

Here in western Pennsylvania, or in Angela’s Adams County, Ohio, or in Barbara Ann’s far western New York or in Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, they light up meadow or a garden. My own experience with them, irregardless of where I’ve seen them, is that they. like Grand Central Station, remain unvisited, until sometime around 9:45 A.M.-ish, butterflies and bees appear, without apparent signal, and the butterflyweed is mobbed by flying animals: butterflies, bees, wasps & flies. Twenty five minutes later, all visitors have left, and the flowerheads are quiet again.

This is the very best place to find Coral Hairstreak butterflies, those tiny winged beauties that like young starlets or young models or aspiring Amherst grads, arrive at Grand Central Station shortly before 9:00 A.M., and. within minutes are all gone, off to wherever.

Butterflyweed is an Asclepias (Milkweed) and Monarch caterpillar thrive on it!

Consider it for that sunny, slightly moist spot in your natives beds.

Jeff

Red Admiral Butterfly

Red admiral butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Ah Vanessa! Dorsal (above) photographs are elusive because Vanessa atalanta is difficult to approach. Ventral (below) photographs are even tougher to obtain. And when you are fortunate enough to get a couple, they usually disappoint.

Why? Because the underside of Vanessa’s wings are especially beautiful and truth be told, difficult to score a really fine image.

Our Red Admiral here is nectaring on milkweed flowers (Asclepias) and those of you who did not settle, can enjoy the rich canvas here with its reds, blues, browns, tans, white, black and washes, swirls, circles, etc.

Captured on June 27th at Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania, milkweed is the Giant Eagle/ Kroger’s/Giant/Piggly Wiggly/Lions/Albertson’s/Big Y of wildflowers. It feeds legions of butterflies, bees, flies, beetles, and on and on.

Our 3rd post of Red Admirals reminds us of how much we enjoy this species. When you’re out there seeking butterflies and getting skunked suddenly like Troy Polamalu there’s a blurrrr and it’s a Red Admiral. Fresh, proud and impatient.

Jeffrey