Southern Coasts

April, 2001
Regional Report


Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Yard
Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Yard, by Sally Roth (Rodale Press, 2001; $30), provides a great way to get acquainted with butterfly and hummingbird gardens. For Sally Roth fans, this book is a natural. It's full of information about habitat plants for nectar feeders, and her style convinces you at every turn that you can create the gardens she describes.

Favorite or New Plant

Chinese Tallow Tree
I have a love/hate relationship with my Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum). It offers great reddish purple fall color and charming seed pods that look like popcorn. It grows best in USDA Zones 8 to 10, growing rapidly and eventually reaching 30 to 40 feet tall. The waxy coat on the seeds is extracted in China to make soap and candles. Hence the name tallow tree.

However, the seed pods can make for a messy yard and walkways if you plant your tree close to the house. Also, the seeds are extremely vigorous. If anybody in your area has a Chinese tallow tree, you'll likely get one in your yard or flower beds from a passing bird scattering seed. Flower beds can be littered with new seedlings in spring. If you want to save a seedling and transplant it, lift it out and plant it in the far back corner of the garden, where you can enjoy it and the massive litter won't be a problem.

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