Audubon® Wafer Ash
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Common Hop Tree is your ticket to one of nature’s most spellbinding shows: the lifecycle of the giant swallowtail butterfly! This supersized beauty—the largest of our native North American butterflies—will take your breath away. It is fascinating at all stages of life. It starts out as a tiny orange egg laid on Hop Tree leaves. Then, as a caterpillar, you get a hint of how beautiful they will grow to be with their unique black and green tiger stripes! As a chrysalis, it looks just like a broken stick. As an adult, it transforms itself once more—this time into a gorgeous black and yellow butterfly with a wingspan of up to seven inches. Truly magical!
May Benefit & Attract: cardinals & grosbeaks, wrens, sparrows, thrushes, orioles, finches, mockingbirds & thrashers, vireos
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 3-9
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The Common Hop Tree has a wide but scattered natural range. This small, multi-stemmed understory tree is most abundant in the Midwest, but it is also native to the Mid-Atlantic states, the Southeast, parts of the Southwest, and Mexico. It is the hardiest member of the Citrus family in North America, and that’s why the giant swallowtail is so interested in it—she only lays her eggs on Citrus-family plants. In Florida and California, giant swallowtail caterpillars feed on commercial Citrus trees, and there, these beautiful creatures are considered pests! Citrus growers call them “orange dogs,” and spray for them.
Common Hop Tree gets its name from the fact that the wafer-like seeds were once used as a substitute for hops in beer-brewing. Its other common name is Wafer Ash. It is not an Ash Tree at all, but its leaves look a little like Ash leaves. On second thought, they look more like Poison Ivy, but “Poison Ivy Tree” does not have a nice ring to it!
How to Grow
Common Hop Tree is a hardy, undemanding, trouble-free tree. In the wild, it typically grows in the understory, but it also grows well in full sun. You’ll want to water your tree regularly during the establishment period (the first year or two). After that, it will be quite drought tolerant and should be able to survive on what falls from the sky. Like most Citrus-family plants, Hop Tree has very aromatic foliage; as a result, deer tend not to browse it. Giant swallowtails don’t mind the flavor, however!
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