As we work to rehab the gardens after the long humid days of summer, we've been adding new plants here and there. One of our new additions to the butterfly garden is a small shrub called Peregrina, or Spicy Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima). It has interestingly-shaped shiny green leaves and delicate small red flowers that butterflies love.
Though small now, this shrub has the ability to grow up 10 feet tall. We'll probably keep it trimmed to 3 - 4 feet, encouraging it to grow wider instead of taller. Spicy Jatropha is native to Cuba and Hispaniola, and is sensitive to hard freezes, though it will re-grow even if killed to the ground. We will most likely cover it if any especially cold weather threatens.
This is a popular plant with butterflies, especially zebra longwings. The little flowers are less than an inch across, but very beautiful up close. All parts of this plant are toxic, so don't plant if you have dogs that like to chew on your shrubbery, and be careful when pruning as those with sensitive skin can have reactions to the milky sap.
Though we try to focus on native plants in My Florida Backyard, some carefully chosen non-natives are fine in any garden. This plant doesn't really show any signs of being invasive in Central Florida, so we can plant and enjoy it in good conscience!