Florida Keys Blackbead shrub
Critically Endangered Butterflies Native to South Florida
The Schaus Swallowtail and the Miami Blue butterflies are considered the rarest butterflies in the United States and are native to South Florida and the Florida Keys.
The loss of their host plants in South Florida was a big factor in their rapid decline. Efforts are being made to breed these butterflies in captivity, but to re-establish colonies in South Florida, their host plants must be re-established in our communities. The Coral Gables Garden Club is making three native plants available for purchase – the Torchwood Tree, the Florida Keys Blackbead shrub – both tolerant of brackish water – and the Jamaican Caper.
The Torchwood is a small tree with glossy green leaves that is perfect under power lines or in small yards. It rarely gets taller than 15 to 20 feet and provides showy white fragrant flowers and purple edible fruits that are cherry-like. It is a perfect tree to plant in your garden as a specimen, on swales, and under power lines, or can be planted as a hedge. It is a tree of life for birds and other pollinators by providing food and shelter. In addition to the rare Schaus Swallowtail butterfly, it supports the Giant and Bahamian Swallowtail butterflies.
Florida Keys Blackbead
The Florida Keys Blackbead can be grown as a shrub, hedge, or small tree. Flowers are powder-puff-like and range from pink to white in color. The coiling reddish seed pods are a distinct feature that opens when ripe, revealing a deep red fleshy aril and black seed. It is a larval host for the Cassius blue and Orange giant sulfur butterflies, including the critically endangered Miami Blue butterfly. The low canopy it creates provides cover for wildlife, and the seeds are a favorite of many birds, including the rare White-crowned pigeon.
The Jamaican Caper can be utilized as an understory tree in partial shade or in an area that receives full sun to medium shade. This plant performs well in soils with good drainage and can tolerate cold temperatures to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also drought resistant and responds to fertilizer with vigorous growth. Train the plant into a tree by removing low, drooping branches and heading upright branches when they are small to thicken their diameter. It can also be clipped into a hedge or tall screen to block an undesirable view. Plants serve as larval hosts for the Florida white butterfly.
How We Can Help
We can help the conservation of these rare butterflies by planting the Torchwood, Blackbead, and Jamaican Caper plants in our Coral Gables butterfly garden.
If you would like to buy plants, please order by June 25th, 2023 and pre-pay now.
You can pay via Credit Card at the "Shop Now" button below or click the "Download PDF" link for mail-in check option. Plants will be available for pick up on July 1st at 900 Coral Way, Coral Gables, FL 33134.
We would like you to record the address where you will plant the trees as we want to create a location map to re-establish the Schaus and Miami Blue butterfly larvae in the future.
3-gallon Torchwood = $25.00
3-gallon Florida Keys Blackbead = $20.00
3-gallon Jamaican Caper = $20.00
Mail-in check option
You can download a PDF of this form at the link below:
NOTE: PDF file will either download automatically or open in a new browser Tab.
Please download and print the form and make your check payable to "Coral Gables Garden Club" with the memo "Butterfly Conservation" and mail to:
Coral Gables Garden Club
PO BOX 141463
Coral Gables, FL 33134