Need a substitute ground cover for turf grass in "no tread areas"? Phyla nodiflora, common names include, Frog Fruit, Turkey Tangle Fog Fruit or Capeweed may be an alternative.
Grows best in full sun, but will take part shade, this low ground cover has tiny white flowers which may be mixed with purple. It is host to several butterflies, including the Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon), White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) and Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia). Good nectar source for Hairstreaks and many other insects.
Easy to establish from cuttings, it is also available from nurseries in 4 inch or 1 gallon pots and can even be purchased in trays. Just plant and keep moist until established. Some water during dry periods will keep it lush and green.
To avoid fungus, mow Frog Fruit to 4 to 6 inches with a push mower or hand loppers. This will keep the lower stems dry. While it will take some light foot traffic, Frog Fruit looks fuller when in an area free from trampling. Looks best during the growing season, but does not freeze completely like the exotic Perennial Peanut.
FNPS plant list: http://www.fnps.org/plants/plant/phyla-nodiflora
Frogfruit is a host plant for these butterflies
Frogfruit, a member of the verbena family, is a low-growing, evergreen groundcover that can be used
as a substitute for turf in low traffic areas. It is the larval host for the Phaon Crescent, White Peacock, and Common Buckeye butterflies. It is also a source of nectar for Hairstreaks. It has tiny white & purple flowers.
- Zone: 8-11
- Growth Rate: Vigorous
- Deciduous: No, evergreen
- Drought tolerance: Tolerant of drought and
- Soil: Tolerates all soil types
- Light: Full sun to part shade
- Flowers: White and purple, blooms
- May to October
- Form: Spreading groundcover
- Size: 3-6 inches in height
- Wildlife: Attracts butterflies
- Pests: None
Reprinted with permission from "The Gardener's Journal", April 2016 Vol 63, A Publication of the UF/IFAS Sumter County Master Gardeners. To subscribe to this journal click List Manager.