Eastern North America Native Groundcovers

These are some of the Eastern North American species suitable for groundcover, most of which I have grown in my gardens over the decades. Some of these prefer shade, some prefer sun. Most of these will spread by runners, stolons, and the like, as “true” groundcovers. Others are effective as groundcovers because of their habit and crown expansion over time.

  • Asarum canadense, wild ginger
    Asarum canadense, wild ginger, growing in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat, May 2016
  • Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern
  • Carex, sedges, hundreds of species, e.g.: Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge
    Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge
  • Chrysogonum virginianum, green-and-gold
    Chrysogonum virginianum
  • Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
    Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
  • Heuchera americana (sunnier)
  • Heuchera villosa (shadier)
  • Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern
    Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern, High Rock Park, Staten Island, May 2014
  • Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge
    Pachysandra procumbens
  • Packera aurea, golden ragwort. Many other species native to North America.
    Packera aurea (Senecio aureus), Heart-Leaved Groundsel
  • Phlox subulata, mosspink, for sun.
    Morning Glory: Phlox subulata
  • Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox, for shade.
    Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  • Sedum ternatum
  • Thelypteris noveboracensis, New York fern
  • Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern
  • Tiarella cordifolia, hearttleaf foamflower
    Tiarella cordifolia, heartleaf foamflower, May 2016
  • Zizia aurea, golden alexanders. Also Z. aptera.
    Zizia aurea, Golden Alexanders

Related Content

2009-05-11: Wildflowers in a Flatbush Backyard
2007-08-06: Growing a Native Plant Garden in a Flatbush BackyardWildflowers in a Flatbush Backyard

This list replaces the one I wrote 6 years ago.


Grief and Gardening: Index

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY, April 2021
Next Tuesday, September 20th, I will be the guest speaker for Green-Wood Cemetery’s Death Cafe. Next week is also Climate Week; the topic is “Grief and Gardening”, that title taken from the long-running series of blog posts here.

Listed below are my related blog posts, grouped by topic. For now, I’m omitting all the eulogies and remembrances for the deaths of family, friends, and pets.

Grief and Gardening: Ashes (Remembrance Day for Lost Species), published 2019-12-02, is one of my favorite writings on the subject of grief. It weaves together nearly all the topics below.

Biodiversity Loss

Remembrance Day for Lost Species Day, aka Lost Species Day, is November 30th. Many of these blog posts are on or near that date.

Grief and Gardening: Extinct Plants of northern North America 2021, 2021-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2020, 2020-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2018, 2018-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2015, 2015-11-29
Extinct Plants of northern North America, 2014-11-30

Climate Change

The IPCC Report: Grief & Gardening #6, 2007-02-04


Grief and Gardening: A Dissetling Spring, 2020-03-19
Drumbeat, 2020-03-27
Grief and Gardening: A Feast of Losses, 2020-04-06
Correspondence, April 2020, 2020-04-13
Grief and Gardening: The Defiant Gardener, 2020-05-06

I adapted some of what I wrote on the blog, and several of my tweets on this subject, for a short post on McSweeney’s: “Do Not Deny What You Feel“. The McSweeney’s piece was later picked up by YES! Magazine. Search for “Flatbush”. or “AIDS”.


Grief and Gardening: 20 Years, 2021-09-11
Grief and Gardening: Remains of the Day, 2019-07-11
Grief & Gardening: Nine Years, 2010-09-11
Seven years, 2008-09-10
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-08
Grief & Gardening #2: Five Years After, “Ths Transetorey Life”, 2006-09-09
Grief & Gardening #1: 1, 5 and 25, 2006-09-04
Without God, 2001-10-15
This Week in History, 2001-09-14


Names, 2021-12-01 (World AIDS Day)
Off-Topic: The Conversation: 2016-03-12 (on Nancy Reagan’s death)
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-08


2006-10-08: Grief & Gardening #3: Nihilism and Squirrels

Gardening Matters: The death of Takeo Shiota (Grief & Gardening #4), 2006-10-29
The Daffodil Project: Grief & Gardening #5, 2006-11-26
https://www.flatbushgardener.com/2007/06/28/grief-gardening-7-the-garden-of-memory/< Continue reading

Sunday, May 22: Habitat Gardening Workshop for NYC Wildflower Week

2022-05-13 UPDATE: A second session is now available for Sunday, May 22, 12 noon to 2pm! Registration links below now point to the new event.
2022-05-09 UPDATE: Due to the rainy, windy, cold weather yesterday, we will be scheduling another session of this workshop for later this week, most likely for the afternoon of Friday, May 13th. Will update here when confirmed!

Me hosting the NYCWW Pollinator Week Safari in my Front Yard, June 2014. Photo: Alan Riback

Sunday, May 22nd 6th, I will be hosting and facilitating a workshop on gardening for habitat with native plants in my home garden. The workshop is from 12noon to 2pm. Space is limited, so please register at the Eventbrite link below.

Learn how to garden with native plants to create wildlife habitat, even in small urban gardens. In this interactive garden tour and workshop, Chris will use his garden to highlight the importance of native plants for sustaining urban wildlife, and how to create and maintain a garden for its ecological value. With nearly 200 NYC-native plant species, and over 400 documented insect visitors, you are sure to learn something new and find inspiration for improving habitat wherever you garden.

Presented by Chris Kreussling. Chris is an urban naturalist and advocate for urban habitat gardening with native plants. He has led numerous native plant and pollinator walks and workshops, for NYC Wildflower Week, Wave Hill, the High Line, and others. His garden is a registered habitat with the National Wildlife Federation, Xerces Pollinator Society, and other organizations. He’s documented this ongoing transformation on his gardening blog, Flatbush Gardener and on Twitter as @xrisfg.


Related Content

Insect Year in Review 2021, 2022-01-03
Hot Sheets Habitat, 2021-11-19
Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions, 2021-10-29
Presentation: Creating Urban Habitat, 2021-02-04
Home of the Wild, 2020-05-13 (Link fixed 2024-04-17)
Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants, 2019-06-08
Charismatic Mesofauna, 2019-02-12
Pollinator Gardens, for Schools and Others, 2015-02-20
NYCWW Pollinator Safari of my Gardens, 2014-06-14


Eventbrite registration page
NYC Wildflower Week

Eastern Native Groundcovers

2022-10-20: Please refer to the new, updated list.

I started to reply to a Facebook post and quickly realized I had enough content for a blog post.

Hello from Long Island NY..looking for suggestion for ground cover that won’t eat my plants. I would like somthing a bit tamer the vinca . The area is slightly damp..part sun/part shade. Any suggestions. See posted pics! Thanks!!

The accompanying photos show a mix of young trees, shrubs, and perennials in a nice non-lawn streetside garden. The photos show a lot of sun, with some shade. The shade will increase over time as the trees and shrubs fill in.

Another commenter suggested Lamium and Galium, neither of which I would describe as “tame.” Either can take over an area in the right conditions.

These are some of the Eastern North American species I’ve grown and can recommend as groundcover. Some of these prefer shade, some prefer sun. Most of these will spread by runners, stolons, and the like, as “true” groundcovers. Others are effective as groundcovers because of their habit and crown expansion over time.

  • Asarum canadense, wild ginger
    Asarum canadense, wild ginger, growing in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat, May 2016
  • Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern
  • Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge
    Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge
  • Chrysogonum virginianum, green-and-gold
    Chrysogonum virginianum
  • Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
    Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
  • Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern
    Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern, High Rock Park, Staten Island, May 2014
  • Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge
    Pachysandra procumbens
  • Packera aurea, golden ragwort
    Packera aurea (Senecio aureus), Heart-Leaved Groundsel
  • Phlox subulata, mosspink
    Morning Glory: Phlox subulata
  • Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox
    Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  • Sedum ternatum
  • Thelypteris noveboracensis, New York fern
  • Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern
  • Tiarella cordifolia, hearttleaf foamflower
    Tiarella cordifolia, heartleaf foamflower, May 2016
  • Zizia aurea, golden alexanders
    Zizia aurea, Golden Alexanders
I’m sure I will add to this list as I think of some I’ve overlooked. There are lots more I’ve never grown myself.

Related Content


Garden Deeper

I had a visceral (in a good way) reaction to Adrian Higgins’ writeup of a visit, with Claudia West, to Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve.

I think I’ll adopt “ecological horticulturist” to describe my own approach to gardening. Whether you specialize in gardening with native plants, as I do, or prefer to grow plants from around the world, studying their native habitats is, in my experience, the best way to learn how to grow them in a garden.

That doesn’t mean you have to recreate the conditions exactly. In many cases, this is impossible, anyway. The native Aquilegia canadensis, eastern red columbine, thrives in the crumbling mortar of my front steps; this location recreates some aspects of the face of a limestone cliff where I saw, decades ago, a huge colony of them in full bloom.
Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine, growing out of my front steps, April 2012

This is why I’m trying to go on more botanical walks and hikes. Like many, if not most, gardeners, I’ve never seen most of the plants I grow in the wild. I visited Hempstead Plains for the first time in August 2013.
Hempstead Plains

That inspired me last year to remove most of the remaining lawn in the front yard and approach it as a meadow, instead.
The Front Garden, before de-lawning, June 2014Weeding is Meditation: Removing the old "lawn" for the new short-grass "meadow" in the front yardFinal grading for the new front yard short-grass meadowThe berm, planted. Took 45 minutes, >2/min, including some rework for overly loose and linear spacing.

Schizachyrium scoparium, little bluestem (grass), in my front garden, November 2014

Rain gardens and rock gardens are both examples of creating gardens to grow plants requiring specific conditions, and to meet human needs. But we don’t need to go to so much trouble. For all the “problem areas” in our gardens, there are plants that want nearly exactly those conditions. We need only think like a plant to see these as opportunities, and embrace the habitats waiting to emerge.

Related Content


What you can learn from a walk through the woods (with Claudia West), Adrian Higgins, Washington Post Home & Garden

April 2015: Native Plants Planting Plan

2015-04-26 Update: Finally finished planting everything.

Took me most of the day to figure out where all of the 63 plants I received this week are going. Better late then never.

Bog Planters

Plant in the bog planters. I’ve only seen Iris versicolor, but never grown it. The other species are new to me.

  • Geum rivale, water avens
  • Iris prismatica, slender blue flag
  • Iris versicolor, blue flag
  • Mimulus alatus, winged monkey-flower
  • Mimulus ringens, square-stemmed monkey-flower

“Wetland” area

Planted where they can benefit from runoff from the garage, bog planters, and other containers. I’ve seen Caltha, but never grown it. The others are new to me.

  • Argentina anserina, Silverweed
  • Caltha palustris, marsh marigold
  • Ludwigia alternifolia, bushy seedbox
  • Menispermum canadense, Canada moonseed
  • Mitella diphylla, two-leaved mitrewort
  • Penthorum sedoides, ditch stonecrop
  • Scirpus cyperinus, common wool-grass
  • Scutellaria lateriflora, mad-dog skullcap
  • Woodwardia areolata, netted chainfern

Front Yard “Meadow”

This is sunny to partly sunny, dry to moist. Except for the Allium, of which – I’d forgotten – I’m already growing a cultivar, all these species are new to me.

  • Allium cernuum, nodding onion
  • Asclepias verticillata, whorled milkweed. Part of my effort to increase the number of milkweed species in my garden.
  • Chelone glabra, white turtlehead, planted at the shadier end of the border.
  • Helianthus decapetalus, ten-petal sunflower
  • Liatris scariosa, Northern blazing-star
  • Oclemena acuminata, whorled wood aster
  • Parthenium integrifolium, wild quinine
  • Penstemon hirsutus, northeastern beard-tongue
  • Pycnanthemum incanum, hoary mountain-mint. This and the next species are relatives of the P. muticum, clustered mountain-mint, which is abundant in my garden and gets more pollinator visitors than any other plant. I’m growing P. virginianum elsewhere. I want to compare these species, both to be able to identify them, and to see if there are any differences in the number or species of pollinators they attract.
  • Pycnanthemum verticillata, whorled mountain-mint
  • Symphyotrichum pilosum pilosum, hairy white oldfield aster
  • Symphyotrichum prenanthoides, crookedstem aster
  • Viola palmata, early blue violet
  • Zizia aptera, heartleaf golden alexanders. Relative of the Z. aurea I already have, and which is seeding itself in my garden. I’ll also be transplanting some of these volunteers to the front yard. I want more plants from the Apiaceae as hosts for Eastern black swallowtails, in the hopes they’ll leave more of our parsley for us.

Backyard “Woodland”

Small things, planted by the Gardener’s Nook so I can keep a close eye on them this year. Some of these are favorites I’d planted in the native plant area of my first garden in the East Village.

  • Actaea pachypoda, white baneberry
  • Actaea rubra, red baneberry
  • Anemone acutiloba (Hepatica acutiloba)
  • Dicentra canadensis, squirrel corn
  • Dicentra cucullaria, dutchman’s breeches
  • Dodecathon meadia, shooting star, white- and pink-flowering forms
  • Hydrastis canadense, goldenleaf
  • Jeffersonia diphylla, twinleaf
  • Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot
  • Thalictrum dioicum, early meadow-rue
  • Viola affinis, sand violet
  • Viola labradorica, Labrador violet
  • Waldsteinia fragarioides, Appalachian barren strawberry

Planted in various other locations in the backyard.

  • Agrimonia striata, woodland agrimony
  • Anemone virginiana, Virginia anemone
  • Argentina anserina, silverweed
  • Arisaema draconitum, green dragon
  • Eurybia divaricata, white wood aster
  • Geum aleppicum, yellow avens
  • Geum canadense, white avens
  • Hydrophyllum virginianum, waterleaf. This turns out to be a duplicate. I thought I had killed the specimen I bought a few years, but it had just moved from its planted spot.
  • Osmunda claytoniana, interrupted fern. A favorite of mine from my first garden in the East Village.
  • Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’, woodland phlox
  • Rudbeckia laciniata, cut-leaved coneflower. Another accidental duplicate. I’ve got one in the front I planted last year that I’d forgotten about.
  • Symphyotrichum laeve, smooth aster
  • Symphyotrichum novi-belgii, New York aster

Planted in the backyard along the neighbor’s fence where they can fill in and provide background for other plants in the foreground.

  • Carex lupulina, hop sedge
  • Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern

I’ve also got a few more new sedges. I planted these together near the front of the north/serviceberry bed so I can observe them closely and learn how to identify them.

  • Carex appalachica, Appalachian sedge
  • Carex grayi, Gray’s sedge
  • Carex rosea, rosy sedge, curly-styled wood sedge
  • Carex squarrosa, squarrose sedge, narrow-leaved cattail sedge

Finally, two new vines.

  • Dioscorea villosa, wild yam. Planted on our neighbor’s fence along the driveway, near the Clematis virginiana.
  • Vitis aestivalis, summer grape. Planted on an arbor between the two vegetable beds along the driveway. Don’t know if we’ll get actual grapes from this or not.

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Invasive Plant Profile: Chelidonium majus, Celandine, Greater Celandine

Revised 2015-02-23: This was one of my earliest blog posts, first published in June 2006. I’ve overhauled it to 1) meet my current technical standards, and 2) improve the content based on the latest available information.

Chelidonium majus, Celandine or Greater Celandine, is a biennial (blooming the second year) herbaceous plant in the Papaveraceae, the Poppy family. It is native to Eurasia. It’s the only species in the genus.

It’s invasive outside its native range, and widespread across eastern North America. It emerges early in the Spring, before our native wildflowers emerge, and grows quickly to about 2 feet. That’s one of the clues to identification. It’s also one of the reasons why it’s so disruptive. The rapid early growth crowds and shades out native Spring ephemerals.

Greater celandine is one of the first weeds I identified when we bought our home in 2005 and I started the current gardens. Here’s my collection of photos from the garden’s second year, in 2006, highlighting the characteristics that help to identify this plant. The photos (click for embiggerization) show:

  1. Full view of plants, showing growth habit, bloom, and ripening seedpods on the same plants. The plants in this picture are about two feet tall. In the middle and lower left of the picture, you can see the leaves of Hemerocallis (Daylilies) just peeking out from under the Chelidonium.
  2. Broken stem with orange sap. You can also see a small flower bud in the leaf axil to the left.
  3. Detail of flower. Notice the 4 petals, clustered stamens, and central pistil with white stigma.
  4. Detail of ripening seedpod. These seedpods are what made me think at first that this plant was in the Brassicaceae (or, if you’re old-school like me, the Cruciferae), the Mustard family. It’s actually in the Papaveraceae (Poppy family).

At the time these pictures were taken in early June, these plants had already been blooming for two months. After I took these pictures, I removed all the plants (and there were many more than are visible in these photos!).

Part of coming to any new garden is learning the weeds. There are always new ones I’ve never encountered before, or that I recognize but am not familiar with. Learning what they are, how invasive or weedy they are, their lifecycle, how they propagate, and so on helps me prioritize their removal and monitor for their return.

For example, Chelidonium is a biennial. So pulling up visible plants before their seeds ripen and disperse kills this year’s generation and the generation two years from now. I might overlook next year’s generation this spring, but I’ll get them next year. The plants are shallowly rooted. By grabbing the plant at the base of the leaves, I can remove the whole thing easily, roots and all.

Chelidonium‘s seeds are dispersed by ants. They’re likely to show up next year close to where they were this year, but not necessarily in the same place. In addition, the soil probably has a reservoir of seeds from the years the garden was neglected. If I disturb the soil, or transplant plants from one part of the yard to another, they could show up in new places. By pulling the plants when they emerge in the spring, and keeping an eye out for their emergence in new places in the garden, I can easily control them. It will take a few years of vigilant weeding to eliminate them completely.

Note that, at a quick glance, this plant can be confused with the native* wildflower Stylophorum diphyllum, celandine-poppy. They’re very similar. Both are in the Papaveraceae, bloom in the spring with four-petaled yellow flowers, have lobed foliage and bright orange/yellow sap, and are about the same height. I find the seedpods the easiest way to distinguish them. The flowers of Stylophorum lack the prominent tall central pistil of Chelidonium, and the stamens form more of a “boss” around the center of the flower, not so obviously grouped in four clusters.

Stylophorum diphyllum, celandine-poppy, blooming and showing the distinctive, more poppy-like, ripening seedpods, in my urban backyard native plant garden, May 2013.

* Stylophorum isn’t native, or present, in New York. But it is native to eastern North America.

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Flickr photo sets:



Update 2014-11-23:

  • Completed Step #4 today, nearly injuring myself in the exertion. Did I mention that established grasses have deep and extensive roots?
  • Also completed Step #5, replacing the Panicum.
  • Added Step #9. I’d overlooked this shrub, and need to find a place where it can be featured, while still kept in bounds with the garden. I think where the Aronia once stood, a transplant I did in the Spring of this year.

Update 2014-11-10:

  • I’m taking photos as the work progresses. See Before and After below.
  • Reordered based on the progress I’m making. Because the Rhododendron is shallow-rooted, I decided to leave that until the last weekend before Thanksgiving, when I’ll visit my sister and deliver her plants.

It’s a long weekend for me. The weather favors gardening.

I’ve got seven shrubs – and one or two mature perennials – to plant, transplant, and move out. Here’s the plan.

  1. I’m moving Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ moving from the backyard, by the Gardener’s Nook, to the front-yard. In the winter this will look great against the red brick of the front porch.
  2. Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ moves from being lost beneath the Viburnum and Amelanchier to the nook, to highlight its foliage.
  3. A now-gigantic Hydrangea also came with the house. I’m moving that, as well, to my sister’s. It has to be cut back hard, so we’ll see if it survives.
  4. Next to the driveway, a large specimen of Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ flops and blocks passage. I’m moving that to replace the Hydrangea. That spot needs height, and it can flop a little without getting out of hand. A second, smaller specimen of the Panicum is also going to my sister, to replace an ornamental grass she had in the front yard that died on her.
  5. I purchased Prunus maritima, beach plum, at this Spring’s Pinelands Preservation Alliance Native Plant Sale. This will replace the Panicum in the bed along the driveway. This will be easy to prune upright to prevent any obstruction.
  6. I purchased Rosa virginiana from Catksill Native Nursery four years ago. I’ve been growing it in container, and it’s never been happy about it; it’s never bloomed. I’m planting that in the bed next to the new location of the Panicum. It’s going in beneath a window, which I hope will dissuade burglars.

    Catskill Native Nursery
    Panorama: Catskill Native Nursery

  7. A no-name white-flowering Rhododendron came with the house. This has grown wild and rangy, and it’s large leaves are out of scale with the backyard, which is “only” 30’x30′. That’s large for an urban garden, but small for a large-leaved rhodie. I’ll move this to the woods of my sister’s place in New Jersey.
  8. I purchased a Kalmia, mountain laurel, also from the Pinelands Alliance Plant Sale and still in container. This will go where the Rhododendron is. Its finer leaf texture better fits the scale of the backyard than the rhodie.
  9. Somewhere still I need to find a place for Rhododendron periclymenoides, also purchased at the Pinelands sale. Since I saw this on a NYC Wildflwoer Week hike through Staten Island’s High Rock Park, I knew it would work beautifully in my garden. Just not quite sure where yet …

Before and After

The Gardener’s Nook, before transplant
The Gardener's Nook, pre-shrub transplant, November 2014

The Gardener’s Nook, after transplant
Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' newly planted in the Gardener's Nook, November 2014

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Flickr photo set


Event: Saturday 6/21 NYCWW Pollinator Safari of my Gardens

On Saturday, June 21, in partnership with NYC Wildflower Week, in observation of Pollinator Week, I’m opening my gardens for a guided tour, what I’m calling a “Pollinator Safari.” This is only the third time, and the first time in three years, I’ve opened my gardens for a tour.

This Hylaeus modestus, Modest Masked Bee, 1/4″ long, was visiting the blooms of Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood, in my garden just two weeks ago. I’ve documented scores of insect pollinators in my gardens over the years, including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles.
Hylaeus modestus modestus, Modest Masked Bee sensu stricto

Here’s the information from the Evite page, with a couple of extra links thrown in:

NYC Wildflower WeekPollinator Week in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Date & Time: Saturday, June 21 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm (rain date Sunday, June 22)
Location: Stratford Road at Matthews Court in Flatbush, Brooklyn


Event Description:

  • Since 2005, Chris has transformed a dusty, weedy backyard into a garden oasis. His gardens now incorporate over 80 species of native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and wildflowers. He’s documented the process on his gardening blog, Flatbush Gardener. In honor of National Pollinator Week, Chris will give us a behind-the-scenes tour!
  • Our bee expert will help us identify some of the gardens’ winged visitors, and review tips for creating an insect-friendly sustainable garden in urban settings.

A view of my urban backyard native plant garden, as it looked in 2011, six years in.
The View North in my urban backyard native plant garden, May 2011
The same view as above, when we bought the house, in May 2005
Backyard, view away from garage, May 2005

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On the blog
My Photography on Flickr


NYC Wildflower Week
Pollinator Week

Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue

Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue.

A lifer butterfly for me. Very lucky to get a few good shots of it while it was resting, wings open, to take in some sun. They’re small and fast.

The undersides of the wings look completely different. Here’s another one the same afternoon in a more typical pose with the wings folded up.

From the flight pattern, I thought at first it was a Summer Azure, which are common here. Perhaps these are what I’ve been seeing instead.

To me, it looks like a cross between an Azure and a Hairstreak. Took me a while to identify it on BugGuide.

There were two, at least, flying around today. Glad they’re finding habitat in my gardens. I hope they make a home here.

Host Plants

The caterpillars eat the flowers and seeds of plants in the Fabaceae (Leguminosae), Pea Family. Genera and species include:

  • Lathyrus, Wild Pea
  • Lespedeza, Bush Pea
  • Medicago sativa, Alfalfa (I had no idea alfalfa was in this family!)
  • Melilotus officinalis, Yellow Sweet Clover
  • Trifolium, Clover
  • Vicia, Vetch
While there is some clover in my yard, the most prominent Fabaceae I’m growing is Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls,’ a cultivar of the native Wisteria that has been reblooming in my garden most of the summer this year. I wonder if this is the plant that has attracted them?

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Gardening with the Lepidotera, 2011-06-11