A few years ago, I began to research a beautiful shrub/trees that grows natively on my property. I loved this plant and wanted to know more about it. It has beautiful red berries that remind me of the salmon eggs I use to use in lake fishing. It is usually an evergreen shrub but some of my specimens are small trees. It has smallish spiny leaves and is very drought tolerant. When the berries ripen in early summer, it really puts on a show.
After doing quite a bit of research, I learned that this is a very important plant. There is a small butterfly named the Hermes Copper that will only lays their eggs on this plant. The leaves provide the food for hatching larvae and much like the Monarch larvae and milkweed relationship, this is the only plant the Hermes Copper larvae will eat. The adults feed on native buckwheat and these two plants must be in close proximity to each other to support this butterfly. The Hermes Copper orLycaena [Hermelycaena] hermes) is endemic to San Diego and Northern Baja. Due to wild fires and land development, the habitat for this butterfly has been greatly compromised and they are close to becoming extinct. This plant is very difficult to source and WEFSC is pursuing means of propagation at this time. We are a few years away from having any sort of inventory of our own. There are a few native plant nurseries that carry this plant at times but it isn't one that many people ask for and it is not easy to propagate so it is it difficult to find. I have recently found a promising source and I am hopeful that I will be able to get the plants I need for the program very soon.
This plant will be used in every fire safe demo garden that we install as it is a great fire-resilient plant. Buckwheat will also be used to provide food for the adult butterflies. The program will also be offered to community and public gardens as a stand alone feature. The San Carlos Community garden will be the first to receive these plants for thier butterfly garden. We hope to be able to offer this program to many gardens throughout the county very soon. With more Spiny Leaf Red Berry and Buckwheat planted throughout the county we can restore habitat for the Hermes Copper and hopefully see a significant increase in their numbers in the coming years.
If you know of a garden that might be interested in our Out Reach programs please let us know. If you would like to become a sponsor and would like to incorporate this program into your community or public garden space, please fill out contact form at the bottom of this page and we will get back to you shortly.