Certain plants produce flowers that greatly resemble distinct species of butterflies. Sometimes the similar appearance is merely a coincidence, but other times it is the careful evolution of the flower to attract butterflies to aid in pollination. Keep an eye out for flowers that have some of the butterflies they resemble fluttering around the plant that produces them.
Blue Butterfly Bush
The blue butterfly bush (Clerodendrum ugandense), or blue glorybower, is native to East Africa. The flowers of the blue butterfly bush resemble a two-toned blue butterfly, and bloom on each end of the tropical shrub. These tall, sprawling plants feature evergreen, egg-shaped leaves and long, arching branches, and are easily pruned. The flowers of the blue butterfly bush blossom continuously through summer and fall. They have one violet-blue lobe and three pale blue lobes, resembling their winged namesakes.
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The Gaura lindheimeri is a vase-shaped, perennial shrub native to Mexico. The four-petaled flowers of Gaura lindheimeri are white when they open and slowly fade to pink; they bloom spring through autumn. The butterfly-like flowers, which have the common nicknames "whirling butterfly" and "butterfly gaura," emerge from rose-colored buds at the ends of long, wiry stems, opening in small groups that increase the chances of pollination.
The flowers of Gladiolus teretifolius plants are elegant, bright red specimens. The graceful flowers are in full bloom for nearly a week, but emit no fragrance. The showy red flowers of Gladiolus teretifolius are zygomorphic, meaning its halves are mirrors of each other, a trait that helps create their resemblance to butterflies.
The butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis) is Florida's most common orchid. The flower of Encyclia tampensis blooms at the end of a tall, thin stalk spring through fall, and is usually brown or greenish-yellow in color, with a white lip that has a distinguishing purple stripe or spot. It is illegal to collect butterfly orchids from the wild in the United States, in spite of its abundant presence in Florida.