This stinky guy feeds butterflies

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slimpod senna
senna hirsuta
fabaceae

  • to about 9' tall

  • upright PERENNIAL SHRUB

  • MODERATE WATER (terrace zone)

  • FULL SUN TO PART SHADE

  • HARDY TO ABOUT MID 15º F

  • NECTAR PLANT FOR BUTTERFLIES AND INSECTS, AND LARVAL FOOD PLANT FOR many butterflies including the sleepy orange

It's not the greatest selling point...just a fact. The leaves of this plants are, err... ill-smelling. Actually, it's not all that bad. And you will probably only notice it if you are doing some work on the plant and do some trimming or brush up against the foliage. 

But for however ill-smelling this plant is, it is a great plant for nectar-feeding insects and a larval food for many butterflies including the sleepy orange (Eurema nicippe). Birds eat the seeds. 

Slimpod senna really starts blooming after the monsoons and keeps going until the winter.  It is native along streambeds and washes 2500-5500' elevation in Arizona and New Mexico. In Tucson, it should be completely hardy. Plants are large shrubs, though some have been recorded as small trees in the wild--to about 9 feet tall. 

This species occurs down into Mexico and continuing into South America. Plants have been introduced to Australia and Africa where they are problematic weeds. Here, they are well-behaved native plants. 

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Katherine Gierlach