It’s a Jungle Out Here: Meet the Morphos

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It’s a Jungle Out Here: Meet the Morphos

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

Our second annual Out of the Blue spring butterfly display opens to the public Saturday (March 12th). The conservatory has been transformed into a warm and humid jungle, lush with tropical plants along with some seasonal colorful flowers.

The conservatory as jungle today! Below are some of the beautiful plants you will encounter:

‘Del Mar’ Bromeliad (Aechmea hybrid)

‘Debutante’ Clivia (Clivia miniata) — a rare, yellow-flowering clivia from Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia.

There is nothing like a Tropical Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) to chase away the winter blues!

Come experience the magic of the Blue Morpho, considered the most beautiful butterfly on Earth. The blue morpho (or mariposa azul as it is called in its homeland of Central America) has inspired people with its beauty and restorative effect. Watch the movie The Blue Butterfly (Monterey Media), a true story about the butterfly and a boy from Quebec whose “make-a-wish” request was to catch the butterfly.

A pair of newly emerged Blue Morphos (female left) — note how their wings shimmer blue.

At rest or while feeding (as shown above!) morphos hold their wings closed showing their unique patterns of fake eyes.

Scientists have also been fascinated with its shimmering blue color as if it were plugged in to electricity. The color is not pigment but refracted light caused by the microscopic surface of the butterflies’ wing scales. We have re-created this structure of Nature (we call ideas we steal from Nature biophilic design) to make electronics more efficient!

A few of our Paper Kite (Idea leuconoe) butterflies have also emerged. They are relatives of the Monarch with a similar wing pattern only they are white instead of orange.

We will also have a live butterfly display of Monarchs courtesy of Monarch Watch
( in Lawrence, Kansas. Learn about these iconic butterflies and what you can do to help their migrating population, which is wintering in Mexico and considered one of the great wonders of the natural world. Unfortunately, I must share they were just dealt a devastating blow by the storm that is currently flooding Louisiana and Texas. The storm dipped way down into the Mexican mountains where they overwinter and brought rare COLD temperatures and snow to high elevations — we are still hoping for the best.

Outside in the Gardens it is hard to believe it is early March. The early Magnolias will be in full bloom the next few days, with later flowering varieties coming into flower each day.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) with bud and bloom this week! Be sure and give their flowers a sniff as they usually have a delightful scent.

Daffodils / Narcissus are also exploding into riotous color throughout the garden, a full month ahead of schedule — if there is such a thing for blooming plants!

‘Jetfire’ Narcissus in full bloom outside the Visitor Center.

Come see us this weekend for a close encounter with the Morpho, a preview of Monarchs, and a walk through the gardens to experience the early spring. You are sure to be restored by the beauty of Nature.