Wild Plant in KU Attracts Butterflies

The Kakatiya University’s department of botany has discovered a unique and wild growing plant species that is known to attract hundreds of colourful butterflies at the same time.

The Kakatiya University’s department of botany has discovered a unique and wild growing plant species that is known to attract hundreds of colourful butterflies at the same time.

While the winged creatures are known to offer only fleeting glimpses when in the process of sucking nectar from flowers on ordinary plants, this particular plant offers one a rare chance to see butterflies sit through without any distractions. Named as ‘Butterfly Plant’ (scientific name Crotalaria retusa), the wild growing plant was brought to the KU’s botany department garden from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra by retired botany professor Mr Vatsavaya S. Raju.

According to Prof Raju, presence of a type of alkaloids in the stem and leaves of Crotalaria retusa and Crotalaria Verrucosa plants attracts butterflies in large numbers.

“The butterflies normally flock to flowers for nectar and thirst, however, the alkaloids present in the Crotalaria retusa wild plant acts as an intoxicant for them. Once they get addicted, they keep coming back to the same plant again,” he explained, adding the families of Crotalaria retusa and butterflies share the common prefix ‘Papilion’.

Interestingly, besides the botany researchers, the plant has also caught the interest of KU’s zoology department for the scope it provides to study the biodiversity of butterflies.

A team of zoology researchers led by Prof Ch. Sammaiah, KU’s zoology department, has already identified 42 species of butterflies including the Blue Mormon butterfly, which is the largest to be found in Warangal with a wing size of seven cm. “In particular, the Crotalaria retusa plant is mainly found to attract three species of butterflies like Blue Tiger (Tirumala limnace), Indian Common Core (Euploea Core) and Blue Butterfly,” he said.

However, the plant is also sought after by other spec-ies of butterflies like Blue Mormon, Crimson Rose, Common Blue Bottle, Lime Butterfly, Copper White, Crimson tip etc. Besides pl-aying an important role in pollination of flowers, zoologists term sighting of butterflies a good sign showi-ng the health of the environment, as they are not found in polluted environments. Zoology research-ers have already suggested promotion of these two species of Crotalaria retu-sa and Crotalaria Verruco-sa wild plants to make ho-me gardens and open public places more attractive for the close association they share with butterflies.

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