Plants that you should consider
There are a number of things you can do to attract butterflies and birds to your garden. Here is a basic list that may be useful as a starting point for people living in peninsular India. Please remember that this list is neither complete nor comprehensive because habitats vary so dramatically across our country. I’ve tried as far as possible to list local species but some, like the Lantana, have naturalised in our country and have therefore found a mention.
A number of butterfly species lay their eggs on grasses – but not of the cultivated kind. Unless you have a very large plot, it is unlikely you’d want to allow these to grow. However, if the possibility exists, it is nice to let a patch of garden in a corner somewhere actually grow wild.
Bamboos are food for some butterfly species and refuge for many birds and other creatures. Keep them a little distant from your house if you’re petrified of snakes, though.
Shrubs and Creepers
- Bougainvillea glabra – Bougainvillea
- Bryophyllum spp. – Kalanchoe
- Calotropis spp. – Rui/Aak
- Capparis spp. – Capers
- Cassia alata – Candle Bush
- Euphorbia spp. – Euphorbia Family
- Hibiscus spp. – Hibiscus Family
- Ipomoea spp. – Glory Family
- Ixora spp. – Ixora Family
- Jasminum spp. – Jasmine Family
- Lantana camara – Lantana bush
- Murraya koenigii – Kaddipatta
- Punica granatum – Pomegranate
- Quisqualis indica – Madhumalti
- Tagetes erecta – Marigold
- Ziziphus spp. – Ber Family
- Citrus spp. – Cultivated citrus plants
Even if you live in the heart of a city like Mumbai, you will be surprised by the variety of birds you can see if there is enough greenery around. I’ve seen the beautiful Paradise Flycatcher in Breach Candy which is, barring a couple of tiny green pockets, as concrete a jungle as you can get.
- Aegle marmelos – Bael
- Annona squamosa – Sitaphal
- Cassia fistula – Amaltas
- Cocos nucifera – Coconut
- Ficus bengalensis – Banyan
- Ficus elastica – Indian rubber tree
- Ficus racemosa – Gular
- Ficus religiosa – Pipal
- Mallotus philippensis – Kamala Tree
- Mangifera indica – Mango
- Michelia champaca – Champak
- Millettia pinnata (Pongamia pinnata) – Karanj
- Phyllanthus emblica – Amla
- Saraca asoka – Ashoka
- Tamarindus indicus – Tamarind
- Terminalia catappa – Badam
- Thespesia populnea – Bhendi
Although the links above all point to wikipedia, a very good resource I have found for Indian plants is Flowers of India. The site aims at having comprehensive information about Indian flowering plants with their common names (especially in Indian languages), pictures and details of habitat and distribution.