South Florida Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Butterfly Gardens

Citizen Science in Action

Native trees, shrubs, and vines provide structure and visual excitement in a butterfly garden. At the same time, they provide food and nectar that are essential to helping butterflies thrive and reproduce.  The plants listed in the table below have been selected and rated by NABA members as important native trees, shrubs, and vines for butterfly gardening in South Florida.

A butterfly garden should contain plants that provide food for all stages of a butterfly’s life. Caterpillars require very specific plants for food and butterflies need nectar from flowers. Choosing a variety plants from the list below will increase the chances that butterflies commonly found in your area will be able to reproduce in your garden.

English NameScientific NamePlant TypeCaterpillar Food for:
Corkystem PassionflowerPassiflora suberosavineGulf Fritillary, Julia Heliconian, and Zebra Heliconian caterpillars.
Faux Persil Balloon VineCardiospermum cornidumVineMiami blue, silver-banded hairstreak, and amethyst hairstreak caterpillars all use faux persil balloonvine as a food source. It is also sometimes a food source for the gray hairstreak caterpillars.
Hercules’ ClubZanthoxylum clava-herculisTree or shrubGiant Swallowtail
HolywoodGuaiacum sanctumTreeLyside Sulphur
Lime PricklyashZanthoxylum fagaraShrub or treeGiant Swallowtail, Northern Sicklewing
Mexican SennaSenna mexicannaWoody shrubCloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Orange-barred Sulphur.
Spiny HackberryCeltis pallida or Celtis ehrenbergianaLarge shrub or treeEmperors, American Snout.
SugarberryCeltis laevigataTreeTawny Emperor, Hackberry Emperor, American Snout, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak.