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Meet the Natives: Corky-stemmed Passionflower

May 24, 2021
Meet the Natives:
Zebra Longwing Butterflies Savor Corky-stemmed Passionflower
The zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) butterfly is named for its striped wing pattern. The wings are black with pale yellow strips. The caterpillars are white with black spots and hairs. It is the official butterfly of the State of Florida and can be found throughout the state. The zebra longwing is active year-round in warm climates.
Zebra longwings are different from most butterflies because they eat pollen and
sip nectar. Eating pollen gives them more protein and extends their life. They can live up to three months while most butterflies only live a few weeks. Butterflies that feed on pollen are also more distasteful to predators because the pollen’s amino acids create toxicity in the adults and in the caterpillars.
The corky-stemmed passionflower (Passiflora suberosa) is one of just a few plants that the zebra feed on and lay their eggs on. The corky-stemmed passionflower has tiny hairs on the tops of the leaves. Therefore, the caterpillars are more likely to be found on the underside or edges of the leaves. There is no need for the caterpillars to hide from predators; the distinctive markings of the zebra caterpillar are a warning of their toxicity.
The caterpillars feed on the leaves of the corky-stemmed passionflower until it is time to form the chrysalis. The light brown chrysalis resembles a dried-up leaf. The zebra longwing butterfly can go from egg to butterfly in a little over three weeks. Adult butterflies sleep or roost in groups at night on the same perch night after night.
The corky-stemmed passionflower is a flowering vine with small white to light green flowers. The leaves can vary from one to three lobes. It can be grown on a trellis, up a tree, or as a ground cover. It can handle full sun to part shade and does not need additional supplementation after established.
SCCF’s Native Landscapes & Garden Center at the Bailey Homestead is open Monday through Thursday, 10am to 3pm. We will also continue to offer contactless deliveries and curbside pickup. Simply place your order online by midnight on Tuesday for pickup or delivery that Wednesday.
Please email our Garden Center Assistant Sue Ramos at with any questions or requests.
SCCF members will get their discount by entering this promo code: SCCFMBR10 


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