Just as the ancient sailors were fabled to sail onto the rocks, drawn by the haunting tunes of the sirens (Am I getting this right?), so the novice out to find butterflies often spends way too much time planted at Geranium maculatum awaiting the arrival of fantastic butterflies. She waits and waits and waits. Is it the wrong time, the wrong temperature or just the wrong dose of Luck. Butterflies rarely visit these wildflowers. When they do, it seems as though they do so reluctantly, as if they hope to find suitable nectar, but know that it’s going to be a waste of flight.
Seen in a variety of habitat across much of the United States, they bloom in mid- to late Spring. They are just plain pretty. What service they provide the fauna in their habitat remains a mystery to us. Here’s a prime example of wildflowers that you stand before, wondering why are they so eye-catching, yet don’t attract winged beauties?
Homes in the northeastern U.S. often sport cultivated geraniums in their gardens and flowerpots. They do look nice, and you know those red ones do catch my eye…but they seem so sterile to me. They don’t pitch in and engage the critters around them. The big-box stores promote them, and plant nurseries do the same, but their contributions to garden diversity is soooo limited.
O. E. Jennings, in his Wildflowers of Western Pennsylvania and the Upper Ohio Basin (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1953) pitches in some spice, reporting that “At maturity the five parts of the fruit suddenly coil upwards and sling out the seeds with considerable force.” Which of you have witnessed that?