The St. John’s Wort Family is a cosmopolitan family of plants with six to nine genera and about 700 species. They may be annual or perennial and they exist as herbaceous, shrub and tree species.
The citrus family is a large family which includes herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees. They are mostly native to the tropical zones of the world and they include the well-known foods of the Citrus genus, such as limes, oranges, lemons and grapefruits.
Family Hypericaceae (formerly Clusiaceae): St. John’s Wort Family
St. Andrew’s Cross, Hypericum hypericoides, is a small perennial shrub that has yellow flowers with four petals forming a cross. St. Andrew’s cross prefers dry upland woodlands with acid soil. Its range extends from Central America, Mexico, the southern Midwest and eastern United States. Birds and mammals eat the seeds and foliage, and the flowers provide nectar to bees, flies, butterflies and other insects.
Family Rutaceae: Citrus Family
The citrus family is a large family which includes herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees. They are mostly native to the tropical zones of the world and they include the well-known foods of the Citrus genus, such as limes, oranges, lemons and grapefruits. Within the family there are about 160 genera and over 1600 species. On Wafer Creek Ranch, there may be only one member of the Citrus family, Ptelea trifoliata.
Ptelea trifoliata, Wafer Ash, Common Hoptree, is a deciduous perennial shrub or small tree of the citrus family that has three large leaflets. Birds eat the seeds encased within a wafer-like samara and the flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds, bees, flies, butterflies and other insects. The plant is host to the larvae of both the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly and the giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly in North America. Wafer ash grows in woodland sites and tolerates both moist and dry, rocky soils, and full sun or partial shade. The range of Wafer Ash encompasses much of Mexico, the American West, the Midwest and eastern United States.
The host plants for the giant swallowtail butterfly are members of the citrus family. Being that Wafer Ash is likely the only member of the family extant on Wafer Creek Ranch, the butterflies depend completely on the plant for egg laying and larval development.
The larval caterpillar of the giant swallowtail is an excellent example of caterpillar deception as the large head-shaped hood and the eyes are both fake as the true head of the animal is actually tucked under the hood.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly—the largest butterfly species in North America.
Johnny Armstrong, Author
Rescuing Biodiversity (publishing in June 2023) tells the story of Johnny's attempts at Wafer Creek Ranch to preserve a vanishing Louisiana ecosystem and restore the animal and plant species that once lived there.
“An avowed student of life and restoration ecology, Johnny Armstrong expertly teaches us how to restore an imperiled southern ecosystem based on deep research, firsthand experience, and delighted observation of the species that return to his beloved Wafer Creek Ranch. Driving his devotion is the alarming truth that loss of biodiversity poses a threat on par with climate change and his impassioned belief that society can alter that trajectory, one acre at a time.”
Cindy Brown, Executive Director
Land Trust for Louisiana
“Up there on your bookshelf between Tolkien and Watership Down is where this book belongs. As an anthropomorphic adventure that winds through the realm of animals possessing courage, savagery, perseverance, and ultimately wisdom in the face of mounting evil threats – humans disconnected from the natural world – the tale is relevant, if not necessary.”
Kelby Ouchley, Author
Bayou Diversity: Nature & People in the Louisiana Bayou Country
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Shadowshine, An Animal Adventure
by Johnny Armstrong
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