Hi Dr. Hill:
We find this plant growing along our road in Sumter County among a lot of grasses, goldenrod and young pines. The stems have a reddish tinge to them. The seed pods are almost cube shaped, hard and have a tiny opening at the top. The photo shows a stem of it next to a 7 year-old’s hand, some seed pods and a very colorful caterpillar. We have seen several of them on this plant, but haven’t been able to id either the caterpillar or the plant.
Thanks in advance,
Megan and Hunter
Hi Megan and Hunter,
your plant is called Seedbox or Rattlebox, Ludwigia alternifolia. It is a rather common native wildflower at the edges of wetlands. The caterpillar is beautiful! While I don’t know what it is, it does remind me of some of the beautiful swallowtail caterpillars. Perhaps the internet will mention what caterpillars will eat seedbox.
Dr. Steven Hill, Botanist, SCNPS