Z is for Zebra Swallowtail

Beautiful, isn’t it? We feature this beautiful member of the swallowtail butterfly group each year because in a week of hard-to-find nature letters, it’s a staple. But it’s also harder to find this butterfly. Its caterpillars eat only one food, the leaves of the Common Paw Paw, Asimina triloba.

This understory tree lives with its roots in wet soil, along streams and rivers.

At least those leaves are huge–10 to 12 inches long and 4-6 inches wide at the middle.

The dark red flowers bloom in the spring and turn into a fruit lumpy with large seeds in the fall. Maybe you can find a tree with caterpillars feeding on it this year.

We’ve had a great time posting this year’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge! Thanks to our many readers for joining us for a look at nature in suburbia. We hope it helps you to enjoy nature around your home!

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Pawpaw Tree

Remember those beautiful Zebra Swallowtails we featured on the last day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge? If not, take a link back to April 30th! Their caterpillars eat Pawpaw leaves.

Pawpaw Tree leaves

The Pawpaw tree, Asimina triloba, grows along streams and river bottoms. The leaves are really plain, but can get huge – 10 to 12 inches long. If your backyard is on a stream, or kind of wettish, you could grow one of these, and sing that song Miz Flora sings: “Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets.”

Hickory and I aren’t quite sure if this is something squirrels want to do, but we’ll find out and let you know. And maybe we’ll be able to find some larger trees later in the season to show you. Ones with pawpaws.