By Wendy Leonard, PHP Park Naturalist
This fall has brought a steady wave of beautiful butterflies to Hardberger Park. Everything from the brilliant zebra heliconian to the ubiquitous common mestra and the ever faithful monarch can be seen at the park.
Their arrival is greeted with a flurry of blooms timed so perfectly to provide these butterflies with a nectar source. Two types of mistflowers are a favorite for these butterflies and can be seen blooming now at the park
On the Blanco Road side of Hardberger Park, along Voelcker Lane, is a magnificent show of white flowers. This is the thoroughwort or white mistflower (eupatorium havanense). These flowers, produced in large quantities, are very fragrant and not only attract butterflies but hummingbirds, bees, and other insects. This plant makes an attractive addition to any garden and is readily available in any native plant nursery.
The second mistflower on show at Hardberger Park is the pink thoroughwort or pink eupatorium (eupatorium incarnatum). This lower growing bush has smaller, fragrant leaves and flowers. It is blooming all along the west side of Water Loop Trail and in some locations on the NW Military side of the park. Both of these mistflowers are an important nectar source for butterflies either travelling through our area or who call Hardberger Park their home. We encourage you to get on the trails this week and brush up on your butterfly identification skills!