- [Host] Tammy Algood has found a little buddy in the Butterfly Garden at the Tennessee Aquarium. There's a wide variety of plant material here, and we'll find out what attributes they have in common that attract and support these beautiful insects. Wondering what native trees are heralded for their fall brilliance? April Moore discovers some impressive beauties as she explores the Arboretum at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. Come along. There's more than 1,000 butterflies in this space that has all they need, including a brightly colored plant palette. - We're here in Chattanooga at the Tennessee Aquarium, and naturally you think about sea life, but don't forget about the insects. They're creating quite a buzz here. And we have Rose Segbers who is the Tennessee Aquarium entomologist with us to talk to us about pollinators and in particular butterflies. Welcome Rose. - Well, thank you, I'm happy to be here. - Great, tell us about how we can utilize wonderful plants such as that you've got like these in our gardens to attract pollinators like butterflies to our yards. - Oh, for sure. So we have got, this is Xora, I believe the common name is West Indian Jasmine here. This is obviously a tropical plant, but it's a really good example of a plant that a butterfly would normally really love to encounter in the wild because it has a nice place for it to kind of sit down and put its hands, or not hands, but it put its legs down. They have kind of taste buds on the bottom of those legs so they can actually scent whether or not something tastes good or not. And what that'll do is that'll inspire them to open up their proboscis which is kind of a drinking straw mouth. And they'll be able to suck out any nectar they might encounter in there. So really what is important with these plants are bright colors, bright blooms of course, and a nice place for them to sit and get a drink. I actually have a butterfly hope, if you don't mind. See if we can grab him out here. We've got a backup just in case. - Hey, little guy. - And we'll just put him on. - Does scent matter or is it mainly just color and blue? - They may stick around, they might not. They may look for something else. So scent is important, like something that's very fragrant will attract other pollinators to the garden, which is always good. But for butterflies in particular, mostly what they're looking for is bright colors. They can see a little bit better than a lot of insects can, and they would prefer to see something that's kind of bright and showy that'll draw a lot of attention to itself. - [Tammy] So hence the reds, oranges, those kinds of things that you want to look for. - [Instructor] Yes, you want to look for something very, very bright and a little bit on the showy side, definitely. - [Tammy] Okay, so you've got a wide variety of butterflies here, obviously, but in our yards, we're probably going to narrow that down to just a few different kinds of butterflies. So it's the same rule for all of them? - So, this is a general rule that works pretty much very well for everybody. Every plant you want something that gives 'em a nice place to sit down like a cone flower or something shaped a little bit like a daisy, something they can grab onto like a viney plant, like order weeds. And really anything that would be brightly colored. And especially something that is native because a lot of these species have over the years learned to recognize that the native plants are the ones they want, the native plants are the good ones for them to lay their eggs on. The native plants are the good ones for them to get nectar. They're better at recognizing those than say, a species from somewhere else. - Got it, okay, so you've got a bird of paradise here that is humongous. And they obviously love that because they're flying all around that. And you've also got which I think is kind of interesting, a trailing cucumber vine. So anything again that they can just latch on 'cause I don't think about this as a tractor for butterflies, but it is, yeah. - It's, oh, sorry, and this is something that anybody can grow a trailing cucumber vine is everywhere. But again, it's the flowers. It's not really the greenery. - [Instructor] Yes, very much. It's very much you want to plant something with a lot of blooms. And the nice part about the cucumber vine is we have a couple of species in Tennessee that are attracted to pollen and they'll actually eat pollen. And that cucumber vine gives them pollen instead of just nectar. I believe our Gulf Fritllaires, which are very common in like the fall, will take a pollen load as well. So yeah. Okay. - And then tell us, Rose, what we can do in our own gardens as far as in addition to flowers, you were saying a compost bin is absolutely fantastic for butterflies. I never think about that. - Yeah, you wouldn't expect it. But speaking of an example, this is our most popular butterfly here in the aquarium. Would you like to try holding it? - Sure. - Here we go, this is a blue morpho. - Oh, he doesn't like me. - They're just ready to go. But the cool part about this guy, maybe is that this butterfly in the wild, you wouldn't find him on like a bloom or anything like that. This butterfly you would find on the ground looking for rotting bananas and that sort of thing. That's what he's gonna want to eat in the wild. And we have a couple of native species in Tennessee that do the exact same thing. They're gonna be attracted to rotting apples, rotting bananas, any rotting oranges. So if you have a little that are starting to turn and are getting a little to the point where you wouldn't want to eat them and you would normally compost them, really one of the best things you can do is just put 'em in there in your garden, in the air where a butterfly can see them and they will be attracted to them. And several other pollinators will as well. - [Tammy] So even if you don't have a compost pile, you just lay them on the ground in your garden. - Absolutely, it might seem a little gross, a little counterintuitive, but butterflies love it. And they get a lot of good food from that for sure. - Okay, so when you put that on my hand, it felt sticky. Okay, so is that the part on their feet where they're deciding if they like to want to stay there or not? - A little bit, yeah, that's the part that allows them to really grab on and hold. That's the part that allows them to stay on the quarter weed, we've got over here, the cucumber bine. And that'll also let them sense whether or not something would be good for them to eat. - Got it, can I try to hold one again? And where do you put 'em? I mean, if they fly on you in your garden, I mean, some people swat them away, but you just let 'em land on you. - You can just let him land on you. And speaking of extra snacks, this guy is trying to drink the sweat from my hand right now. - Oh, nice. - Yeah, butterflies will eat just about anything. And they do need protein and salt and other nutrients. - I love it. - He's gonna try it with you. - Oh, hello, hello, oh, that's pretty cool. So if they land on you just let 'em sit there and they'll just move on. - [Instructor] Yep, they'll usually move on eventually. They don't tend to stick around very long. That's meant to be showy in order to be attractive to other butterflies they might want to socialize with. And it's also, they also have a fail safe if they don't want to track predators. They have this big eyespot that is right here that will alert any predator and kind of confuse them and make them think that maybe this is a larger bird instead of a butterfly. - So do you need water in your garden for butterflies or are they gonna get it from the plants? - So, for the most part, butterflies will get the water from the plants. But bees and several other pollinators do appreciate having a little water feature in order to get a drink. And a lot of butterflies still enjoy humidity as you can see from this room. So yes, having a water feature in your garden will attract them as well, just because they're going for the humidity and a lot of the plants they will normally grow a stream beds. - Got it, so rose tip, this butterfly exhibit here at the aquarium, is this a permanent exhibit here at the aquarium that anybody can come and see? - [Instructor] Yep, it sure is a permanent exhibit. This butterfly exhibit has been running save a short shutdown for COVID consistently for I want to say over 15 years. And we intend to keep going for the long haul definitely. - [Tammy] So it's year round, so it doesn't really matter. So, don't worry about your hair. Just come on in here and enjoy. And you just, what's the humidity level that you keep it? - [Instructor] We tend to keep it about 80% humidity. Most people don't last very long in this room obviously. But it is beautiful. It is lovely in here and we're always happy to have people, we're always happy to have people coming back over and over again. - [Tammy] And is there a peak time of the day when the butterflies are fluttering the most. - [Instructor] Really early mornings right after opening is the best time. And it tends to be, they tend to be a little bit more social, a little bit more active on days when there aren't a ton of guests in here. So weekdays are always good times to see it. And bright sunny days are also really wonderful because butterflies don't really understand that they're inside and protected from the rain. So they'll actually start hiding when it gets cloudy and the room turns into kind of a scavenger hunt when that happens, you can find the butterflies underneath leaves and on the underside of branches. - How fascinating, you've got a fun job. - Oh, I love it, thank you. - Thank you so much for introducing me to my new little best friend. We'll call him Butter. - [Instructor] I love that. - And I really appreciate the information that you've shared with our viewers for enhancing their own gardens with butterflies. - You are very welcome. - [Tammy] Thanks so much. - It's October, and we're here at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage to take in some of the beautiful fall foliage and learn about native trees with beautiful fall color. We are here with the historic garden manager, Bradley Roberts, to talk about this beautiful tree beside us. Can you tell us what this is and a little bit about it? - Certainly April, welcome to the Hermitage. - Thank you. - Glad you're here. This is ACER rubrum or northern red maple. We do have a southern red maple, which is a little different, but this is the northern species. This is actually the most widespread tree north to south in the United States. - [April] Oh, wow. - [Bradley] Its native range runs from southern Canada all the way down to northern Florida. - [April] So pretty hardy. - Yeah, and as far west as Texas. - That's cool. - So this is the most widely distributed hardwood tree in the United States. - Well the leaves look a lot like sugar maple. Can you talk a little bit about the difference between those? - Absolutely. - Because that's confusing to me. - Sugar maple is acer saccharum, and the main difference is the leaf margins. Here on my left is a sugar maple. And you can see this is the red maple. - [April] Oh, okay. - [Bradley] The leaf margins are a little more lobed on the sugar maple and on the red maple, the margins are more serrated. - [April] Reminds me a little bit even of a silver maple, even maybe a little bit. - [Bradley] Looks a little more like a silver maple than the sugar maple does for sure. And then this is kind of more of a classic, a maple shape. You'll see some genetic diversity in some of the sugar maples. And the shade leaves will be different from the sun leaves. - That's interesting. - Which can make it even more difficult to identify. But when you're looking at maples, primarily the sugar and the red and the differences, you want to look at the leaf margins. - [April] And aren't the sugars that would normally be produced by the chlorophyll drawn down into the roots for the winter, is that what happens? - That is what happens, that's exactly what happens. So when the day length changes and the growing season ends, those pigments and the oxens and enzyme, a growth enzyme, a growth protein that slows down and then triggers or signals the tree to drop its leaves or cut off growth or what we call go into senescence. And that's the dormant period during the winter months. - [April] Okay, so this is a gorgeous tree and the foliage is stunning. Can you tell us a little bit about it? - Absolutely, So this is another sugar maple ACER saccharum. This one, as you can see, is much bigger and older than the one we were looking at earlier. - How old is it? - I'm taking a guess, but I'm gonna guess at least 175-years-old. And that's a guess, but it's well over 100-years-old. And this sugar maple is part of our arboretum collection. We are a level three Tennessee Urban Forestry Commission recognized arboretum. And all of our arboretum trees are labeled with these placards. And you can scan the QR code on these placards and go to our plant database online and see information about the specific tree. - [April] This is a gorgeous tree. - [Bradley] Oh, it's one of my favorite ones here. And it's in full fall color right now with these wonderful yellow hues, which is, another identifier of sugar maple, yellow color. It's beautiful. Love it. - So if a homeowner wanted to plant a beautiful sugar maple like this, what do they need to know? - These trees at full maturity will reach, 70 to 80 feet tall, 40 to 60 feet wide. They make a great specimen tree or a lawn tree, but they need adequate space to mature and develop. You don't want to plant this up against a foundation or too close to a house. - [April] Or near power lines. - Or near power lines because you're gonna have to end up improperly pruning it. And when you improperly prune a tree because it's too close to a building or a foundation, what happens is you end up shortening the life of the tree, but also inviting pest, fungal issues or other disease disorders. So when you go to plant, especially a large hardwood tree, you want to make sure that you're allowing it space to mature. But if you do, this could be a tree that would last for, 100 years in the landscape. - [April] But it's best to plan ahead. - [Bradley] It absolutely is. Look up is what I always say before planting. - Well, we have some beautiful trees here and they have quite a beautiful color. Can you tell us a little bit about these trees? - So this is a really interesting southeastern native. This is shag bark hickory, Carya Ovata. So this is the hickory that Andrew Jackson is kind of tied to, Old Hickory, from the Battle of 1812. This particular hickory is known for its flexibility and durability. So these trees were supposedly used during that battle. This is supposedly the tree that Jackson got the moniker, Old Hickory. The shag part, so in this bed that we're standing at, there used to be six of these. - [April] Wow. - Planted in a line, just like these three are real close. I mean, these trees will get 60 to 70 feet tall. And even having three, here's a stretch. But there were six here. And the story is that Jackson actually planted those six trees. - Wow. - And he just had some hickory nuts in his hand and just put 'em out in a line. - And once he did that, no one was gonna take 'em out. - And they grew. And there are pictures of them from the early-1900s. And they were much more mature than these are now. These trees were planted maybe within the last 10 years. - [April] Their bark isn't shaggy yet. - That's exactly where I was going with this. When these trees mature, the bark gets loose and shaggy, hence the name shag bark hickory. But when they are in the early stages of development, they still have a smoother bark. But you can see there's starting to be some fissures in the bark and that's where that shag gonna start to release themselves from the trunk of the tree. - [April] That's cool, it would be hard to, unless you knew the leaves, it would be hard to identify these just by the bark when they're this age, I think. - Absolutely. Because it looks a lot like the other hickory at this stage. Absolutely. But you can see that they have this nice yellow color to the leaf. So that would mean that they have a lot of the zanthoxylum present, the leaf pigment that turns in this yellow color. It's really striking from a distance when these trees are planted in a group or in a groan. - [April] It's a brilliant yellow, no doubt about. - [Bradley] Oh man, it's fabulous. - [April] And these leaves are huge. So they must be pretty happy here. - [Bradley] Yeah, they are and these, this has a bigger leaf than some of the other native hickory, so that can be an identifier for shag bark as well. - So Bradley, we've got this beautiful southern magnolia here, and beside it, very striking this other gorgeous tree. It reminds me of the shag bark hickory, but tell me what it is? - It looks a lot like the shag bark, but this is shell bark hickory. It's another one of our southeastern native hickory trees. This is Carya Laciniosa You can tell that that yellow fall color is very similar to the shag bark, but the leaf shaped a little different, comes to a much tighter point at the end, than the shag bark does. And then of course the bark of this tree is quite different, from the shag bark. - [April] How old is this tree? - I'm guessing this tree's probably 20-years-old. - And it won't get shaggy like a shag bark hickory? - No, see how it's kind of fissured, it's gonna stay like that as it matures. Those fissures will deepen some but it will not exfoliate like the shag bark does. So that's a key identifier for those two trees as they mature. - [April] This is one I've not really encountered much before. - [Bradley] You don't see this one as often as a landscape tree as some of the other hickories. And unusually enough, when you see this one growing in its native habitat, you normally see it as a singular tree and not as a stand or a colony of hickories. - [April] Interesting. - It's nice to have it near our shag barks because you get to compare and contrast them. - [April] Yeah, beautiful gold color. - It's a lovely tree, I love it. - This tree hasn't yet colored up, but it will. I know it will. It's an American beach. And Bradley, can you tell us a little bit about this American beach? - So this is a Vegas grande flora American beach tree. And you're right, it hasn't started to show any fall color yet, but it's on the way. We're thinking maybe early November gonna start to change. And it has this brilliant yellowy gold color to it that rivals the hickories that we saw earlier. But one spectacular thing about this particular beach, beaches in general, it's the bark, grayish, almost white bark. And you can see the lichen that is growing on it here. It's just really artful, quite majestic. - [April] It almost looks like skin. It's so elephant skin. It's beautiful. - It does look like elephant skin though. That rough skin of an elephant. But one thing that you can see here is you see some moss growing on it and you see all these circled roots. I mean, this is just a massive roots. So you could imagine this is probably causing some kind of issues with water intake, nutrient intake. And that may be why you're starting to see some of this lichen growth. Lichen growth is normally a indicator of some type of stress in a tree. - [April] Well, it's a beautiful tree regardless. - [Bradley] Absolutely, gorgeous. - We're ending our visit of the Hermitage at this beautiful tree and Bradley, please tell us about this gorgeous specimen. - So this is a black Tupelo Nyssa Sylvatica. It's also commonly known as sour gum. Another southeastern native. As you could see right now, it's going into this beautiful red fall color, which I love so much. It's such an intense red in the landscape and it really shows off from a distance. One of my absolute favorite native trees. And this one, according to the guys from the Tennessee Urban Forestry Commission, they say it's the largest one they've ever seen. It's the largest one that I've ever seen. It's just a monster. I mean, Nyssa Sylvatica does not generally get this large in the landscape. So we really should have someone come out and take some measurements of this one. - It's very old. - It is, I don't know exactly how old this tree is, but it's at least a 75-100-years-old. I would say easily. And this one is part of our arboretum collection. - [April] Well, this is a great time of the year to visit the arboretum. What can we tell folks if they want to come out and see it for themselves? - Well, we are a level three Tennessee Urban Forestry Commission Arboretum recognized arboretum. We offer guided arboretum tours quarterly throughout the year. But all of our arboretum trees are labeled with QR codes. We also offer brochures of all the arboretum trees at the Andrew Jackson Center. So you can take the map and do a self-guided tour anytime of the year with a grounds pass and find out information about these specific trees through the QR code and our plant database. - Well, it's been an absolutely beautiful day to visit Andrew Jackson's Hermitage and especially the Arboretum. And we just want to thank you so much for your time today and all you've taught us about these gorgeous trees. - Well, thank you, April's been my pleasure. And come back anytime. - Well, thank you, I will. - A word on the street is that hot house plants are hot and one of the hottest is this plant that is here in front of me. And I am with Calvin Owen, Tennessee Tropicals, who's gonna tell us all about it. - This is Variated Monster, different varieties and strains. Most popular is the elbow vergotta, which is the white and green leaf. This is the it house plant for everybody now. It's kind of made a renaissance. It was popular back in the '70s, especially the green form. - [Presenter] I can remember my grandmother growing the green form and she called it Swiss cheese plant because it had those openings in the leaf. Sometimes holes. - [Expert] The holes in the leafs and the openings, it's interesting behind that the plant naturally grows where it's very windy and it's adapted to thrive in that condition. So the cells in each leaf die selectively as it develops and forms the holes to allow the wind to pass through it so the leaf doesn't get torn. - That's fascinating. It's amazing how plants can adapt in their home environments to withstand things like that. - Oh, for sure. And it is also a very easy houseplant. They like medium humidity to high humidity, drought a little bit in between water and just never keep it soggy and bright and direct light. And it'll grow just fine for them. - [Presenter] And it grows well. Now these are fairly large specimens. You start with something small in maybe a four-inch pot or so. - [Expert] Usually four or six inch pots. We have six inch pots through the spring and summer. Usually I make a post on my social media pages alerting people to when they become available. But I never have enough. - [Presenter] No matter how many you propagate, how many cuttings you take, it's never quite enough. - [Expert] Never enough. - [Presenter] Well, it's a fascinating plant. So it's obvious though, that from a small plant you're going to get something fairly large. So it is something you need to have a little space for. - [Expert] You want a good plant for a corner. Where it can kind of get tall bathroom, good humidity in there. - [Presenter] I noticed that in some of yours, they have what looks like a wood steak or something similar to kind of help it prop up and grow upright. - [Expert] They typically climb up a wall or a tree. - [Presenter] A tree trunk. - [Expert] So you want to be able to provide wooden steak or a moss pole or any of those things to allow it to grow itself up. A lot of people struggle with humidity in their homes. - [Presenter] Especially in the winter when we have the heat on - [Expert] For sure. And simply putting a tray underneath the plant, fill it with pebbles, keep that water in there, and that that evaporation will help increase the ambient humidity around the plant. - Around the plant. Well, this is a fascinating and beautiful plant and like you said, an old fashioned plant that has seen a renaissance and the variegated forms of it are just particularly beautiful. - [Expert] Very nice. This is definitely one of my favorite plants in the whole greenhouse.
September 07, 2023
Season 32 | Episode 08
We find an array of butterfly species in the lush setting of the Butterfly Garden at the Tennessee Aquarium. Tammy Algood discovers what attributes of a plant draw in these insects. Wondering what native trees are heralded for their fall brilliance? April Moore finds some impressive specimens at the arboretum at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. Troy Marden showcases monstera, a popular houseplant.