Lotus scoparius, also commonly known as Deerweed,
is definitely not just for Deer!
In California, Arizona, and parts of Mexico, Deerweed sets the foothills ablaze in color from early spring through summer. This brightly hued perennial is a hot spot for local wildlife, butterflies included. Margaret Huffman of the North American Butterfly Association calls this lovely lotus “the best butterfly plant for Southern California”.
The Silvery Blue, Glaucopsyche lygdamus, Bramble Hairstreak, Callophrys perplexa, Funereal Duskywing, Erynnis funeralis and Avalon Scrub Hairstreak, Strymon avalona, all use this hardy plant as a host. Female Gray Hairstreaks, Strymon melinus, Orange Sulphurs , Colias eurytheme, Acmon Blues, Icaricia acmon, Marine Blues, Leptotes marina, and Chalcedon Checkerspots, Euphydryas chalcedona, are also rumored to have frequented its flames in search of a place to lay their eggs.
Changing in color from yellow to red once pollinated, Deerweed’s fiery buds attract many other pollinators as well, including the Yellow-faced Bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii. Rodents, birds and other seed eating creatures partake in its zestful foliage too. Male butterflies can often be found setting up territories near Deerweed. And not to worry; Deer, for whom this plant is not so aptly named, do not find themselves burned where foraging is concerned, as this hearty and drought tolerant native has ample to share.
Lotus scoparius is also known as Deervetch, California Broom and Western Bird’s-Foot Trefoil. It is a sub-shrub in the Pea Family and is commonly found in many areas including chaparral, coastal sand and at roadsides (elevations below 1500 m.). Ironically, despite its blazing appearance, Lotus scoparius is often used and planted for habitat restoration and erosion control after a brush fire. Plant Deerweed , Lotus scoparius, in you garden today and help butterflies and other native species to thrive. KD