Aristolochia in the East Bay Hills – a new pollinator project
Aristolocia Californica, or Dutchman’s Pipevine, is the only host plant for the caterpillars for the native swallowtail butterfly. The plant population has declined recently, resulting in a decline of habitat for the butterfly. Similar to the GCA focus on Monarchs, I thought this would be a good, collaborative local pollinator project for PGC and Orinda GC with a goal of growing more of this plant in the East Bay Regional Park.
The Orinda club nominated this plant for the 2017 GCA Freeman Award, for which it received an honorable mention.
California Registered Naturalist (and former TV anchor) Wendy Tokuda is working to create a habitat corridor for the butterflies in plant in gardens and parks around the East Bay. They have created a website to record plants and sightings of the swallowtails or their caterpillars.
With the help of East Bay Regional Parks botanist, Michele Hammond, we just planted 18 pipevine plants this December in three different locations within the park — Sibley, Huckleberry and at the Alvarado entrance to Wildcat Canyon. We will be monitoring the different locations to see how the plants do. It takes a few years for the plants to be established. If all goes well, we will plant more next year and propose it for a new P4P project.