Pollinator Support Plants

Almost 90% of all plant species are pollinated by insects, including most of the plants we use for food, medicine, fiber, and other uses. The majority (99.5%) of the world’s pollinating animals are invertebrates, such as flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and the all-important bees, in which North America has over 4,000 species! As important as these botanical allies are, they have unfortunately been in decline due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide-use.
Any agroforestry system, permaculture design or holistic orchard should include fodder plants that  support our ecosystems hard-working pollinating friends. The Xerces Society has created a “Pollinator Friendly Practices” list that includes strategies for building pollinator shelter and reproduction sites. Below is a list of some of the best fodder plants to support our native pollinators. The fodder plants of spring and autumn are exspecially important since they offer food at marginal times of the year.  Many of the plants in the below lists are “weeds” and can be encouraged simply by letting them grow and by land management practices that encourage a diversity of successional phases.
If you plant it, they will come…

Plants for Pollinator Gardens and Native Pollinator Support:

Spring:
Herbaceous Plants:
Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox)
Phlox pilosa (Prairie Phlox)
Viola spp. (Violets)
Zizia spp. (Golden Alexanders)
Hydrophyllum virginianum (Eastern Waterleaf)
Geranium bicknelli (Bicknell’s Canesbill)
Geranium maculatum (Spotted Geranium)
Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine)
Tradescantia occidentalis (Priarie Spiderwort)
Baptisia alba (White Wild Indigo)

Trees and Shrubs:
Amelanchier spp. (Serviceberries)
Vaccinium spp. (Blueberries)
Salix discolor (Pussy Willow)
Prunus spp. (Cherries, Plums)
Robinia spp. (Locusts)
Acer spp. (Maples)
Aesculus spp. (Horsechestnuts)
Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)
Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)
Betula nigra (River Birch)
Calycanthus floridus (Sweet Shrub)
Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Summer:
Herbaceous Plants:
Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamont)
Monarda punctata (Spotted Bee Balm)
Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop)
Veronicastrum Virginicum (Culver’s Root)
Veronica gigantea (Giant Ironweed)
Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazing Star)
Liatris spicata (Marsh Blazing Star)
Liatris spp. (Blazing Stars)
Asclepias spp. (Milkweeds)
Penstemon digitalis (Smooth penstemon)
Penstemon multiflorus (Eastern Smooth Beard Tongue)
Penstemon virginiianum (Mayflower Beard Tongue)
Dalea pinnata (Summer Farewell)
Gaillardia pulchella (Annual Blanketflower)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Echinacea spp. (Coneflowers)
Alliums spp. (Onion family)
Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf Coreopsis)
Coreopsis palmate (Prairie Coreopsis)
Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed)
Eupatorium perfoliatium (Boneset)
Eupatorium purpureum (Sweet Joe Pye)
Helianthus spp. (Sunflowers)
Petalostemum spp. (Prairie Clovers)
Phlox spp. (Phlox Species)
Pycnanthemum spp. (Mountain Mints)
Rudbeckia spp. (Coneflowers/Black-Eyed Susans)
Ratibida spp. (Coneflowers)
Silphium spp. (Compass Plants)
Tradescantia spp. (Spiderworts)
Verbena spp. (Vervains)

Trees and Shrubs:
Tilia spp. (Basswoods)
Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)
Rosa spp. (Roses)
Amorpha canescens (Lead Plant)
Rubus spp. (Blackberries, Raspberries)
Sambucus (Elderberry)
Hypericum densiflorum (Bushy St. John’s Wort)

Autumn:
Herbaceous Plants:
Agastache scrophulariifolia (Purple Giant Hyssop)
Aster ericoides (Heath Aster)
Aster furcatus (Forked Aster)
Aster spp. (Asters)
Campanula Americana (Tall Bellflower)
Coreopsis tripteris (Tall Coreopsis)
Eupatorium altissimum (Tall Boneset)
Eupatorium coelestinum (Mistflower)
Helianthus grosseserratus (Saw-tooth Sunflower)
Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)
Rudbeckia spp. (Black-Eyed Susans)
Solidago spp. (Goldenrods)
Symphyotrichum spp. (Asters)
Vernonia spp. (Ironweeds)