Attracting Butterflies with Sassafras
Herbs > > Attracting Butterflies with Sassafras
Some folks employ specific gardening tactics in order to entice birds, butterflies, or some other type of creature into their midst. Sassafras – a significant herb in that it has strong environmental importance – is often used in an attempt to attract butterflies to the garden.
Since the caterpillars of butterflies rely on sassafras leaves as their staple food, these beautiful winged creatures are attracted to the herb, by nature, making this one of the main types of plants that’s necessary to construct and maintain a butterfly garden. To that end, you must be careful in your judgment of the placement of such greenery. Sassafras can grow in the form of a tree or, more commonly, as a shrub that tends to use a tree as its canopy. It wouldn’t be feasible to plant such an herb too close to the entrance of your home, since this will expose the butterflies to a high traffic area and might discourage them from utilizing the plant as a depository for their larvae. Away from the structure of the house, within a quiet corner of the yard – or garden – would be the most appropriate location for herbs and other plants that are designed to attract these natural beauties.
It’s just as important to know which types of plants don’t fare well when planted near the sassafras herb. Due to its ability to release a chemical which prohibits the growth of certain other types of plants, care must be taken to do adequate research before the planting of such an herb, rather than counting on random placement. The American Elm, for instance, should never be positioned near sassafras, since it ranks among those that are affected adversely by the herb’s natural chemical. Interestingly, this is used as a form of defense by the sassafras plant, allowing it more room for its own growth by eliminating the proverbial competition.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that a number of birds and animals feed on the sassafras plant, causing new plants to sprout up wherever they defecate. Since the seeds are unaffected by the digestive process, they remain in the creature’s waste products, which then acts as a fertilizer for the seeds, causing the growth of new plants. That being the case, it may be easy to become overrun with sassafras, as a result of this natural seeding process.
Among the leaf and twig eating creatures are white-tailed deer, eastern cottontails and woodchucks. In addition to a number of small mammals that also enjoy this edible plant, pileated woodpeckers, northern mockingbirds, wild turkeys and flickers are enticed by the fruit of the herb, as well as many other types of birds.
One creature that aids in the growth of the sassafras herb is the gypsy moth. Unlike other plants, who are often devastated by such infestations, this hearty member of the herb family actually benefits from it, since gypsy moths thin out other foliage, thereby allowing more room for the growth of the sassafras plant. The moths will only eat sassafras if no other trees are available.