Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Wed Jan 16 18:23:47 EST 2002

John Calhoun wrote:

> Some more information regarding Balloon-vine (Cardiospermum helicacabum).
> This plant could possibly be used to help restore the Miami Blue, but any
> planting should be closely monitored.  Because it is easy to grow, it may be
> used in the lab to develop stock for introduction into areas with native
> hosts.
> There is still some question whether it is truly exotic in Florida.
> Surprisingly, the USDA website (
> lists it as native.  Perhaps most interesting is that The Florida Exotic
> Pest Plant Council (, consisting of eleven of the
> most authoritative botanists in Florida, does not list it as invasive in
> Florida (1999-2001).  Likewise, The University of Florida Center for Aquatic
> and Invasive Plants ( does not list
> it either.
> John Calhoun

I wonder why the Keys people are ripping out this vine then? Can it be 
that they are impressed by the damage it's doing in the Pacific? But ... 
if it's native here, then it's allowed to loll around and make a blowsy 
mess of itself here, isn't it? Within reason, I mean.
Seems to me that stuff that blows up here from the Islands is as native 
as any of us. With global warming, it may be the wave of the future.
It would appear that we have here a plant and its Evil Twin.

Here's a listing, for what it's worth ... not listed in Florida 
apparently, but right next door in Georgia.
Me, I think that folks ought to lighten up on this plant until we get 
its butterflies sorted out.
But, in case it is the Kudzu we've all been fearing, I suppose we 
shouldn't  find it any new places to live, unless the Native Plant 
Society wants to find us the native variety ... and promises not to 
change their minds next week.

Might we plant mixed plantings of Balloon Vine and Nickerbean, for 
instance, on school fences, and have the children run population counts 
and comparative studies on them?
They can amuse themselves, presumably, with the hairstreaks until the 
Blues come and find them.

A question. If you open a pod, and there is a larva in it, have you 
greatly inconvenienced the bug? Must you then adopt it and rear it in a 
safe place?
I'm thinking, putting children to work on this, we want them to do no 
harm. We certainly would like them to practice on something less 
delicate, before they go messing with tiny butterflies.
But, if somebody is trimming their balloon vine, wouldn't you like the 
children to go and gather up the seedpods? If they gathered them like a 
bouquet, and hung it among suitable host plants, would that be a good idea?
Just pondering ...
Anne Kilmer
South Florida


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list