One of the earliest perennial plants to emerge in the spring in my NJ butterfly garden, Golden Alexander (Zizia aura) is becoming one of my favorite plants.
Easily started from seed two years ago, Golden Alexander has multiplied (without any aggressive tendencies) and seems to be one of the very few plants that my neighborhood deer do not enjoy. Black Swallowtails use Golden Alexander as a caterpillar food plant, but to date, Black Swallowtails seem to prefer the parsley that I grow over Golden Alexander. This year, now that I have a larger number of Golden Alexander plants, I imagine that the Black Swallowtails might take some notice.
Even though Golden Alexander is waking up from a long cold winter, it will still be weeks before many of the plants in my butterfly garden reappear. One of the latest to emerge in the spring are milkweeds, often not poking through the ground until early May.