Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis): Nectarous Blue-Violet Profusion for Skippers and Zephyrs

by DerdriuMarriner

Skippers (common checkered, silver spotted) and angelwing zephyr number among butterflies attracted to blue mist shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis).

Caryopteris x clandonensis is a hybrid that is commonly known as blue mist shrub or blue spiraea.

Produced in England in 1930 by horticulturalist Arthur Simmonds, blue mist is prized for its beauty as well as for its attractiveness to butterflies.

Four butterflies which favor blue mist's nectar are
•common checkered skipper (Pyrgus communis),
•silver spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus),
•yellow patch skipper (Polites peckius), and
•zephyr angelwing (Polygonia gracilis zephyrus).

Bluebeard 'Worcester Gold' (Caryopteris x clandonensis):

received Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 2002
Nova Scotia Community College-Kingstec Campus Horticulture Facilities
Nova Scotia Community College-Kingstec Campus Horticulture Facilities

 

Caryopteris x clandonensis is commonly known as bluebeard, blue mist shrub or blue spiraea.

It is a hybrid which was produced in 1930 by Arthur Simmonds (1892 - 1968), horticulturalist and secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society, through an accidental crossing of Caryopteris incana and Caryopteris mongholica.

Caryopteris mastacanthus, a synonym for Caryopteris incana, was brought back to England in 1845 from plant collecting expeditions to China conducted by Scottish botanist Robert Fortune (September 16, 1812 - April 13, 1880) under the auspices of the Horticultural Society of London.

 

Caryopteris mastacanthus: one of the proud parents of Caryopteris x clandonensis

drawing accompanying original description by John Lindley
Mastacanthus sinensis (former synonym of Caryopteris mastacanthus): illustration by Sarah Ann Drake
Mastacanthus sinensis (former synonym of Caryopteris mastacanthus): illustration by Sarah Ann Drake

 

Caryopteris mastacanthus was described by John Lindley (February 8, 1799 - November 1, 1865), English botanist, gardener, and orchidologist, in the January 1846 issue of Edwards’s Botanical Register as

. . . an autumn-flowering herbaceous plant . . . , in a gardening point of view, of some importance; because it furnishes an abundance of rich violet blossoms at a season when that colour, never abundant, is peculiarly rare in gardens.” (Edwards's Botanical Magazine, 1846)

The accompanying illustration, by English botanical illustrator, Sarah Ann Drake (July 24, 1803 - July 9, 1857), perfectly captures the essential beauty and delicate strength which was imparted ultimately to today's popular hybrid, Caryopterisclandonensis.

Caryopteris x clandonensis

Water Conservation Garden, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, San Diego County, southern California
Water Conservation Garden, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, San Diego County, southern California

Externals: What Caryopteris x clandonensis looks like

 

Caryopteris x clandonensis spreads to 5 feet (1.5 meters). Its height stretches equiproportionately to 5 feet (1.5 meters) as well.

Downy leaves are serrated. Leaf shape is lanceolate, which means that, having the general shape of a lance, leaves are longer than wide and taper from a round, wide base to a tip. Leaves have an opposite arrangement on the stem, which means that they are paired on opposite sides of the stem from one another.

Leaves measure just under 4 inches (10 centimeters) in length. Uppersides of leaves are grey green to silver while undersides are grey white.

Leaves and stems emit an aroma reminiscent of eucalyptus (genus Eucalyptus).

Buds open in late summer to display deep blue to blue violet flowers.

A popular variety, ‘Worcester Gold’, has mauve blue flowers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which classes plants according to the coldest temperature at which they maintain viability, places Caryopteris x clandonensis in Zone 5 (-20° to -10° Fahrenheit; -29° to -23° Celsius) to Zone 9 (20° to 30° F; -7° to -1° C).

 

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'

Caryopteris clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'/Blauwbaard of blauwe spirea
Caryopteris clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'/Blauwbaard of blauwe spirea

 

Caryopteris x clandonensis not only contributes visual interest to public and private gardens and parks but also expands the color spectrum of its neighborhood through its attraction to throngs of butterflies.

Four butterfly devotees of Caryopteris x clandonensis are

  • zephyr anglewing (Polygonia gracilis zephyrus),
  • common checkered skipper (Pyrgus communis).
  • silver spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), and
  • yellow patch skipper (Polites peckius).

 

male Zephyr Anglewing Butterfly (Polygonia gracilis zephyrus)

Coyote Call Trail, Valles Caldera Natural Preserve-Santa Fe National Forest, northern New Mexico
Coyote Call Trail, Valles Caldera Natural Preserve-Santa Fe National Forest, northern New Mexico

 

Polygonia gracilis zephyrus is commonly known as zephyr anglewing butterfly.

Its native territory radiates from the eastern Rockies, north to southern British Columbia and Alberta in Canada and throughout most of Idaho, south to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Isolated populations are found in the western Dakotas and Nebraska.

Polygonia zephyrus is habituated to mountain forests with nearby streams and rivers.

 

underside of male Zephyr Anglewing Butterfly

Coyote Call Trail, Valles Caldera Natural Preserve-Santa Fe National Forest, northern New Mexico
Coyote Call Trail, Valles Caldera Natural Preserve-Santa Fe National Forest, northern New Mexico

 

Tawny golden orange uppersides with black splotches and submarginal rows of yellow sports are encased by irregular, ragged wing outlines accentuated by thick, dark brown edging. Shades of brown and grey which mottle the undersides lighten towards wing edges, giving a frosty or hoary appearance. The center of the underside of the hindwing is marked with a white comma. An alternative common name, hoary comma butterfly, derives from these two underside distinctions.

Wingspan measures 1-3/4 to 2 inches (4.4 to 5 centimeters).

In addition to Caryopteris x clandonensis, Polygonia zephyrus breezes towards asters (genus Aster), butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), coneflowers (genera Echinacea and Rudbeckia), and zinnias (genus Zinnia).

 

underside of male Common Checkered Skipper

Lakewood, north central Colorado
Lakewood, north central Colorado

 

Pyrgus communis is commonly known as common checkered skipper.

This North American devotee hails from three countries:  southern Canada, the continental United States, and northern Mexico.

Pyrgus communis feels comfortable in sunny, open habitats with low vegetation. Favorite locales are fields, gardens, meadows, and prairies. Pyrgus communis also is contented with openings and trails in woods and with roadsides.

 

underside of male Common Checkered Skipper

Lakewood, north central Colorado
Lakewood, north central Colorado

 

Gaudiness is not the style of Pyrgus communis. Its subdued blue grey upperside has gentle white splashings.

Its petite wingspan measures 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 centimeters).

In addition to Caryopteris x clandonensis, Pyrgus communis visits butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), coneflowers (genus Echinacea), ironweeds (genus Vernonia), and marigolds (genus Tagetes).

 

Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Cheesequake State Park, Matawan, Middlesex County, central New Jersey
Cheesequake State Park, Matawan, Middlesex County, central New Jersey

 

Epargyreus clarus is commonly known as silver-spotted skipper.

Epargyreus clarus is at home in the New World, where its range stretches south as far as northern Mexico and north into the southern fringes of Canada. Apart from the Great Basin and west Texas, Epargyreus clarus is found throughout the continental United States.

Epargyreus clarus basks in openness, flitting comfortably in canyons, fields, foothill streamsides, parks, and prairie waterways.

 

underside of Silver Spotted Skipper

Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park, California

 

Brown to black wings are scored with luminous gold spots on the forewings.

Metallic silver bands on the underside of each hindwing flash visibly as Epargyreus clarus skips in a fast, erratic flight pattern from place to place.

Wingspan is 1-3/4 to 2-5/8 inches (4.5 to 6.7 centimeters).

In addition to Caryopteris x clandonensis, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and honeysuckle (genus Lonicera) are tempting to Epargyreus clarus.

 

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)

Loomis Park, Jackson City, Jackson County, Michigan
Loomis Park, Jackson City, Jackson County, Michigan

 

Polites peckius is also known as yellow spotted skipper, yellow patch skipper, and Peck’s skipper. Scientific synonyms are Polites coras, Papilio cora, Hesperia peckius, and Hesperia wamsutta.

This New World native ranges across southern Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and dips southwards in the United States from northeastern Oregon and southern Colorado east to northwest Arkansas and northern Georgia.

Polites peckius prefers open grassy habitats, such as lawns, marshes, meadows, prairies, and roadsides.

 

Peck's Skipper with vervain, displaying its yellow-splotched undersides.

Charles County, south central Maryland
Charles County, south central Maryland

 

Uppersides intersperse brown with red orange patches. Hindwing undersides are splotched with large yellow spots rimmed by dark brown.

Wingspan measures 1 to 1-1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 centimeters).

In addition to Caryopteris x clandonensis, Polites peckius is fond of butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), goldenrods (genus Solidago), and lavenders (genus Lavandula).

 

Longwood Gardens' Caryopteris Allée:

white hibiscus standards (shrub or small tree grafted or trained to form single stem of limited height with leafy crown of flowers at its apex) set off by soothing borders of Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandondensis)
Kennett Square, southeastern Pennsylvania
Kennett Square, southeastern Pennsylvania

Caryopteris x clandonensis and its charming, colorful coterie

 

Caryopteris x clandonensis has enjoyed unabated popularity ever since its fortuitously accidental creation. It provides a profusion of calm floral pastels at a time, later in the summer, that generally signals transition from estival (Latin: aestus, "heat") florescence to autumnal quiescence. Homo sapiens delights in the plant's cool hues, which freshen late summer's heat waves and which revitalize garden spaces. With its delicate beauty which belies its strength as a heat and drought tolerator, Caryopterisclandonensis, shrugging off hot, dry summer days, offers predictable beauty and shade.

Butterflies, too, are charmed by Caryopteris x clandonensis, which seems to have been created for their own joyous sustenance. Caryopterisclandonensis perfectly fulfills its role, inherited through its auspicious genes, as an "autumn-flowering . . . plant . . . of some importance."

 

Caryopteris × clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'

Cladon-Bartblume (Caryopteris × clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue')
Cladon-Bartblume (Caryopteris × clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue')

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Relished by Skipper Butterflies: Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight' with Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) visitor

"Bees and butterflies love this flowering shrub."
"Bees and butterflies love this flowering shrub."

Sources Consulted

 

Barton, Barb. “Polites peckius." (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. 2005. Regents of the University of Michigan. animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu

  • Available at:  http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Polites_peckius/

"Common Checkered-Skipper Pyrgus communis (Grote, 1872). Butterflies and Moths of North America. Butterfly and Moth Information Network, Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Pyrgus-communis

Flora: A Gardener’s Encyclopedia. Volume I: A-K. Portland OR: Timber Press, 2003.

"Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis (Grote & Robinson, 1867)."  Butterflies and Moths of North America. Butterfly and Moth Information Network, Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Polygonia-gracilis

Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton. "Caryopteris mastacanthus." Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Vol. CXL (111) (ser. 3: v. XVL [41]): Tab. 6799. London: L. Reeve & Co., 1885.

  • Available via Internet Archive at:  https://archive.org/details/mobot31753002721865

Lindley, John. "Mastacanthus sinensis: Chinese Beardwort." Edwards's Botanical Register, Vol. IX (new series 32): Plate 2. London: James Ridgway and Sons, MDCCCXLVI (1846).

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/mobot31753002748454

Oliver, F.W., ed. Makers of British Botany; A Collection of Biographies by Living Botanists. Cambridge: University Press, 1913.

  • Available via Internet Archive at:  http://archive.org/details/makersofbritishb00oliv

Ortho's All About Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies. Des Moines IA: Meredith Books, 2001.

"Peck's Skipper Polites peckius (W. Kirby, 1837)." Butterflies and Moths of North America. Butterfly and Moth Information Network, Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Polites-peckius

“Polygonia gracilis Hoary Comma.” Digital Atlas of Idaho > Biology > Insects > Lepidoptera Butterflies > Nymphalidae Brush-footed Butterflies. State of Idaho Board of Education. Web. http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/

  • Available at:  http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/bio/insects/butrfly/btrfrm.htm

Roth, Sally. Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard. Rodale Organic Gardening Book. Emmaus PA: Rodale, 2001.

"Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus (Cramer, 1775)." Butterflies and Moths of North America. Butterfly and Moth Information Network, Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Epargyreus-clarus

 

pastel essential appeal of Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'

Finsterwalde, Brandenburg, northeastern Germany
Finsterwalde, Brandenburg, northeastern Germany
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard: Watch Your Garden Come Alive With Beauty on the WingRodale Organic Gardening Books by Sally Roth

Roll out the welcome mat for butterfles and hummingbirds. Attracting Butterfles and Hummingbirds to Your Backyard reveals the secrets for creating irresistible gardens and a welcoming landscape.
Rodale Organic Gardening Books

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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/27/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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