Thursday, June 11, 2020
Water Dropwort - Tiedemannia filiformis
Water dropwort is evergreen in areas without deep freezes. The long linear leaves are almost succulent. Each of these needle-like leaves are 2-3 feet in length on mature plants. They form a dense basal rosette.
Flower stalks emerge from these rosettes in summer and eventually stand 4-5 feet tall by early fall. Water dropwort has a decided blooming season that lasts several weeks in September/October. Like other members of this family, the white flowers are held in an umbel arrangement. Each flower is 1/8-1/4 inch in width, but the umbels are at least 1-2 feet across and composed of a great many flowers. At this time, the plant is rather showy and the blooms attract the attention of a great many small pollinators. When in bloom, it also attracts the attention of eastern black swallowtail butterflies. Though this plant is essentially shunned at other times of the year, a blooming water dropwort is the preferred host plant of this beautiful butterfly. The caterpillars begin only on the flowers, but move on to the foliage after they gain some maturity.
Water dropwort is an essential addition to a wetland butterfly garden and I add it routinely to the ones I work with. Individual plants gain girth over the years and become quite robust with age. They also reseed routinely. Regrettably, it is not routinely propagated by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. I grow it here at Hawthorn Hill, however. Give it a sunny location that stays moist to wet and wait for the caterpillars in fall.