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A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers, and Gardeners In the

Pr airie
Park land


Including the states of:

Illinois, Iowa, Missouri

and parts of:

Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota,

Nebraska, North Dakota,

Oklahoma, South Dakota

Table of CONTE NTS

Wh y Suppor t Polli nator s? 4

Ge tti ng Star te d 5

Pr ai r i e Par k l and 6

Me e t th e Polli nator s 8

Pl ant Tr ai ts 10

De ve lopi ng Pl anti ngs 12

Far ms 13

Public L ands 14

Home L andscape s 15

Bloom Pe r iods 16

Pl ants Th at Attr act Polli nator s 18

Host Pl ants 20

Ch e ck li st 22

R e sour ce s and Fe e dback 23

This is one of several guides for

different regions in the United
States. We welcome your feedback
to assist us in making the future
guides useful. Please contact us at
Cover photo of landscape hills by Marguerite Meyer

2 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
Se le cti ng Pl ants for Polli nator s

A Regional Guide for

Farmers, Land Managers,

and Gardeners

In the

Ecological Region of the

Prairie Park land

Temperate Province

Including the states of:

Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri

and parts of:

Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska,

North Dakota, Oklahoma,

South Dakota

A NAPPC AND Pollinator Partnership™ Publication

By: E li zabe th L . Le y, Botani st, E d ge wate r , MD

This guide was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Plant Conservation Alliance,
the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management with oversight by the Pollinator Partnership™
(, in support of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC–

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 3

W h y s u p p or t p ol l i n ator s ?
In their 1996 book, The Forgotten Pollinators, Buchmann and
Nabhan estimated that animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction “ Far mi ng fe e ds
of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops. Each of us
depends on these industrious pollinators in a practical way to provide us
with the wide range of foods we eat. In addition, pollinators are part of the
th e wor ld, and
intricate web that supports the biological diversity in natural ecosystems
that helps sustain our quality of life.

Abundant and healthy populations of pollinators can improve fruit set we must r e me mbe r
and quality, and increase fruit size. In farming situations this increases
production per acre. In the wild, biodiversity increases and wildlife food
sources increase.
th at polli nator s
Alfalfa, apples, pumpkins, soybeans, squash, and watermelons are some of
the crops raised in the Prairie Parkland that rely on honey bees and native
bees for pollination. Domestic honey bees pollinate approximately $10 ar e a cr i tical
billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year.

Unfortunately, the numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated

li nk i n our food
bee populations are declining. They are threatened by habitat loss,
disease, and the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides. The loss of
commercial bees to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has highlighted how
severe the issues of proper hive management are to reduce stresses caused sy ste ms. ”
by disease, pesticide use, insufficient nutrition, and transportation practices. -- Paul Growald,
Currently, the pollination services that the commercial beekeeping industry
provides are receiving much needed research and conservation resources. Co-Founder,
The efforts to understand the threats to commercial bees should help us Pollinator Partnership
understand other pollinators and their roles in the environment as well.

It is imperative that we take immediate steps to help pollinator populations

thrive. The beauty of the situation is that by supporting pollinators’ need
for habitat, we support our own needs for food and support diversity in the
natural world.

Thank you for taking time to consult this guide. By adding plants to your
landscape that provide food and shelter for pollinators throughout their
active seasons and by adopting pollinator friendly landscape practices, you
can make a difference to both the pollinators and the people that rely on them.

Laurie Davies Adams

Executive Director
Pollinator Partnership

4 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
G e t t i n g S ta r t e d

This regional guide is just one practices in what is known as

in a series of plant selection tools the Prairie Parkland, Temperate
designed to provide information Province. remains. Fire played an important
on how individuals can influence part in shaping the vegetation of
pollinator populations through Portions of ten states make up the prairies. As fire is controlled
choices they make when they farm a the 218,000 square miles of this or suppressed, deciduous trees
plot of ground, manage large tracts province with elevations ranging are able to colonize or become
of public land, or plant a garden. from 300 to 2,000 feet. The established, turning prairies into
Each of us can have a positive topography varies with large forests.
impact by providing the essential areas of gently rolling plains to
habitat requirements for pollinators steep bluffs or rounded hills. Many prairie plants are wind
including food, water, shelter, and Average annual temperatures vary pollinated, such as grasses, oaks
enough space to allow pollinators to considerably from south (60˚F) to and hickories. You will find them
raise their young. north (40˚F). Wooded areas are listed in this guide as important
commonly found along streams and host plants to butterfly larvae, but
Pollinators travel through the north facing slopes in the western not on the other charts. They are
landscape without regard to parts of the province. In the eastern important elements in recreating
property ownership or state parts, trees are more often found on natural landscapes and for
boundaries. We’ve chosen to use the highest hills. providing habitat for butterfly
R.G. Bailey’s classification system development.
to identify the geographic focus Long before there were homes
of this guide and to underscore and farms in this area, the original, In choosing plants, aim to create
the connections between climate natural vegetation was prairies, habitat for pollinators that allow
and vegetation types that affect groves, and strips of deciduous adequate food, shelter, and water
the diversity of pollinators in the trees. Grasses such as bluestems sources. Most pollinators have
environment. and Indian grass grow among many very small home ranges. You can
species of wildflowers. Dry and wet make a difference by understanding
Bailey’s Ecoregions of the United oak savannas are common, as are the vegetation patterns on the
States, developed by the United oak-hickory forests. Bur oak is a farm, forest, or neighbor’s yard
States Forest Service, is a system common oak in wet areas; black oak adjacent to your property. With
created as a management tool and on drier sites. this information in hand, your
is used to predict responses to land planting choices will better support
management practices throughout The favorable climate and soils led the pollinators’ need for food and
large areas. This guide addresses to the establishment of farms so shelter as they move through the
pollinator-friendly land management that little of the original vegetation landscape.

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 5

U n d e r s ta n d i n g
t h e P r a i r i e Pa r k l a n d, T e mp e r at e P r ov i n c e

n This region is designated number 251 in the Baileys’

Ecosystem Provinces. To see a map of the provinces go to:

n Not sure about which bioregion you live or work in? Go to and click on Ecoregion Locator for help.

n 218,200 square miles within 10 states (see opposite page).

n Gently rolling plains with steep bluffs in the valleys, or

rounded hills.

n Elevations ranging from 300 to 2,000 feet.

n Average annual temperature range from 40° - 60°F.

n Average year round precipitation between 20-40 inches.

n USDA Hardiness Zone 3b - 5 (1990 version).

Ch ar acte r i sti cs
n Intermingled dry and moist prairies, groves, and strips of
deciduous trees.

n Prairies dominated by moderately tall grass species (bluestem,

switchgrass, and Indian grass).

n Trees found near streams and on north facing slopes in the

west, on hilltops in the east.

n Dominant trees are oak and hickory.

6 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
“ Addi ng nati ve pl anti ngs i n r i par i an ar e as
The Prairie Parkland
Temperate Province includes
the states of:
Illinois to i mpr ove polli nator h abi tat mak e s
Iowa se nse i n advanci ng our fa mi ly far m’s
conse rvation and e conomic obje cti ve s,
And parts of:
Indiana e nh anci ng be ne fi ci al wi ldli fe and
i mpr ovi ng polli nation i n our or ch ar d
North Dakota
and gar de n. ”
Oklahoma --Lee McDaniel, Farmer and President,
South Dakota National Association of Conservation Districts

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 7

Me e t t h e P ol l i n at or s

W h o a r e t h e p ol l i n ator s ?
Bees Solitary bees include carpenter bees
Bees are well documented (Xylocopa spp.), which nest in wood;
pollinators in the natural and digger, or polyester bees (Colletes
agricultural systems of the Prairie spp.), which nest underground;
Parkland. A wide range of plants leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.),
in the Aster and Rose families, which prefer dead trees or branches
Photo courtesy of Becky Erickson

alfalfa, and melon crops are just for their nest sites; and mason bees
a few plants that benefit from bee (Osmia spp.), which utilize cavities
pollinators. that they find in stems and dead
wood. Cactus bees (Diadasia spp.)
Most of us are familiar with the are also solitary ground nesters.
colonies of honey bees that have
been the workhorses of agricultural
pollination for years in the United B u t te r fl i e s
A bee foraging on a Columbine flower
States. They were imported from Gardeners have been attracting
in Missouri.
Europe almost 400 years ago. butterflies to their gardens for
some time. These insects tend to
There are nearly 4000 species of be eye-catching, as are the flowers
native ground and twig nesting bees that attract them. Position flowering
in the U.S. Some form colonies plants where they have full sun and
while others live and work a solitary are protected from the wind. Also,
life. Native bees currently pollinate you will need to provide open areas
A Viceroy butterfly pollinating many crops and can be encouraged
Joe Pye weed, native to Iowa. (e.g. bare earth, large stones) where
to do more to support agricultural butterflies may bask, and moist soil
endeavors if their needs for nesting from which they may get needed
habitat are met and if suitable minerals. By providing a safe place
sources of nectar, pollen, and water to eat and nest, gardeners can also
are provided. Bees have tongues of support the pollination role that
varying lengths that help determine butterflies play in the landscape. It
which flowers they can obtain might mean accepting slight damage
nectar and pollen from. to the plants, known as host plants,
The bumble bee (Bombus spp.) that provide food for the larval
forms small colonies, usually stage of the butterfly.
underground. They are generalists, A diverse group of butterflies
feeding on a wide range of are present in garden areas and
plant material from February
Photo courtesy of MJ Hatfield

woodland edges that provide bright

to November and are important flowers, water sources, and specific
pollinators of tomatoes. The host plants. Numerous trees, shrubs,
sweat bee (family Halictidae) nests and herbaceous plants support
underground. Various species are butterfly populations.
solitary while others form loose
colonies. Butterflies are in the Order

8 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
Lepidoptera. Some of the species beetle watching isn’t as inspiring cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus),
in the Prairie Parkland are as butterfly or bird watching. Yet goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and
Brush-footed, Gossamer-winged, beetles do play a role in pollination. members of the carrot family like
Swallowtail, Parnassian, Skipper, Some have a bad reputation Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota).
White, and Sulphur butterflies. because they can leave a mess
They usually look for flowers that behind, damaging plant parts that
provide a good landing platform. they eat. Beetles are not as efficient
Hummingbirds are the primary
as some pollinators. They wander
Wet mud areas provide butterflies birds which play a role in
between different species, often
with both the moisture and pollination in North America. Their
dropping pollen as they go.
minerals they need to stay healthy. long beaks and tongues draw nectar
Butterflies eat rotten fruit and even Beetle pollinated plants tend to be from tubular flowers. Pollen is
dung, so don’t clean up all the large, strong scented flowers with carried on both the beaks and
messes in your garden! their sexual organs exposed. They feathers of different hummingbirds.
are known to pollinate Magnolia, The regions closer to the tropics,
sweetshrub (Calycanthus), paw with warmer climates, boast the
Moth s
paws, and yellow pond lilies. largest number of hummingbird
Moths are most easily distinguished
species and the greatest number of
from butterflies by their antennae.
native plants to support the bird’s
Butterfly antennae are simple with a Flies
need for food. White-winged doves
swelling at the end. Moth antennae It may be hard to imagine why one
(Zenaida asiatica) are also pollinators
differ from simple to featherlike, would want to attract flies to the
of the saguaro cactus (Carnegeia
but never have a swelling at the garden. However, like beetles, the
gigantea) in the south central United
tip. In addition, butterflies typically number of fly species and the fact
are active during the day; moths at that flies are generalist pollinators
night. Butterfly bodies are not very (visit many species of plants), Bright colored tubular flowers
hairy, while moth bodies are quite should encourage us all to leave attract hummingbirds to gardens
hairy and more stout. those flies alone and let them do throughout the United States.
their job as pollinators. Hummingbirds can see the color
Moths, generally less colorful
red; bees can not. Many tropical
than butterflies, also play a role Recent research indicates that flies
flowers, grown as annuals in the
in pollination. They are attracted primarily pollinate small flowers
Prarie Parkland, along with native
to flowers that are strongly sweet that bloom under shade and in
woodland edge plants, attract
smelling, open in late afternoon or seasonally moist habitats. The
night, and are typically white or National Research Council’s Status
pale colored. of Pollinators in North America study
states that flies are economically B ats
important as pollinators for a range Though bats in the Prairie Parkland
B e e tl e s of annual and bulbous ornamental are not pollinators, bats play an
Over 30,000 species of beetles flowers. important role in pollination in the
are found in the United States southwest where they feed on agave
Plants pollinated by the fly
and many of them can be found and cactus. The long-nosed bat’s
include the American pawpaw
on flower heads. Gardeners have head shape and long tongue allows
(Asimina triloba), dead horse arum
yet to intentionally draw beetles it to delve into flower blossoms and
(Helicodiceros muscivorus), skunk
to their gardens, possibly because extract both pollen and nectar.

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 9

Plant Tr aits

Trait Bats Bees Beetles
W h i c h F l ow e r s
Do the
P ol l i n at or s Bright white,
pr efer ? Dull white, green Dull white or
Color or purple
blue, or UV
Not all pollinators are found
in each North American province,
and some are more important
in different parts of the United
States. Use this page as a resource
Nectar Absent Present Absent
to understand the plants and guides
pollinators where you live.
Strong musty; Fresh, mild, None to strongly
Plants can be grouped together
based on the similar characteristics
Odor emitted at night pleasant fruity or fetid
of their flowers. These floral
characteristics can be useful to
predict the type of pollination Abundant; Sometimes
method or animal that is most Nectar somewhat Usually present present;
effective for that group of plants. hidden not hidden
This association between floral
characteristics and pollination
method is called a pollination Limited; often
syndrome Pollen Ample sticky Ample
and scented
The interactions of animal
pollinators and plants have
influenced the evolution of both
groups of organisms. A mutualistic Regular; bowl Shallow; have
relationship between the pollinator Flower shaped – closed landing platform;
Large bowl-like,
and the plant species helps the Shape during day tubular
pollinator find necessary pollen and
nectar sources and helps the plant
reproduce by ensuring that pollen is
carried from one flower to another. This chart and more information on pollinator syndromes can be found at:

10 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
a n d t h e P ol l i n ator s t h e y At t r a c t

Birds Butterflies Flies Moths Wind

Pale and dull to Dull green, brown, or

Scarlet, orange,
Bright, including dark brown or purple; Pale and dull red, colorless;
red and purple flecked with translucent purple, pink or white petals absent
or white
patches or reduced

Absent Present Absent Absent Absent

Strong sweet;
None Faint but fresh Putrid None
emitted at night

Ample; deeply Ample; deeply Ample; deeply

Usually absent None
hidden hidden hidden

Abundant; small,
Modest Limited Modest in amount Limited
smooth, and not sticky

Large funnel Narrow tube with

Shallow; funnel like or Regular; tubular Regular; small and
like; cups, strong spur; wide
complex and trap-like without a lip stigmas exerted
perch support landing pad

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 11

D e v e l op i n g l a n d s c a p e p l a n t i n g s
t h at p r ov i d e p ol l i n ator h a b i tat
Whether you are a farmer not native, are very good for by butterflies during their larval
of many acres, land manager of a pollinators. Mint, oregano, garlic, development.
large tract of land, or a gardener chives, parsley and lavender are
with a small lot, you can increase just a few herbs that can be planted. Wate r :
the number of pollinators in your Old fashioned zinnias, cosmos, and A clean, reliable source of water is
area by making conscious choices to single sunflowers support bees and essential to pollinators.
include plants that provide essential butterflies. • Natural and human-made water
habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, • Recognize weeds that might be a features such as running water,
beetles, hummingbirds and other good source of food. For example, pools, ponds, and small containers
pollinators. dandelions provide nectar in the of water provide drinking and
early spring before other flowers bathing opportunities for pollinators.
open. Plantain is alternate host for • Ensure the water sources have
F ood :
the Baltimore Checkerspot. a shallow or sloping side so the
Flowers provide nectar (high in
• Learn and utilize Integrated Pest pollinators can easily approach the
sugar and necessary amino acids)
Management (IPM) practices to water without drowning.
and pollen (high in protein) to
address pest concerns. Minimize or
eliminate the use of pesticides. Your current landscape probably
Fermenting fallen fruits also provide
food for bees, beetles and butterflies. includes many of these elements.
Specific plants, known as host Observe wildlife activity in your farm
plants, are eaten by the larvae of Sh e lte r : fields, woodlands, and gardens to
pollinators such as butterflies. Pollinators need protection from determine what actions you can take
• Plant in groups to increase severe weather and from predators to encourage other pollinators to feed
pollination efficiency. If a pollinator as well as sites for nesting and and nest. Evaluate the placement of
can visit the same type of flower roosting. individual plants and water sources
over and over, it doesn’t have to • Incorporate different canopy and use your knowledge of specific
relearn how to enter the flower layers in the landscape by planting pollinator needs to guide your choice
and can transfer pollen to the same trees, shrubs, and different-sized and placement of additional plants
species, instead of squandering the perennial plants. and other habitat elements. Minor
pollen on unreceptive flowers. • Leave dead snags for nesting sites changes by many individuals can
• Plant with bloom season in mind, of bees, and other dead plants and positively impact the pollinator
providing food from early spring to leaf litter for shelter. populations in your area. Watch
late fall. (see Bloom Periods p. 16-17) • Build bee boxes to encourage for - and enjoy - the changes in your
• Plant a diversity of plants to solitary, non-aggressive bees to nest landscape!
support a variety of pollinators. on your property.
Flowers of different color, • Leave some areas of soil uncovered • CAUTION: Remember that
fragrance, and season of bloom to provide ground nesting insects pesticides are largely toxic to
on plants of different heights will easy access to underground tunnels. pollinators. Extreme caution is
attract different pollinator species • Group plantings so that pollinators warranted if you choose to use
and provide pollen and nectar can move safely through the any pesticide. Strategically apply
throughout the seasons. landscape protected from predators. pesticides only for problematic
• Many herbs and annuals, although • Include plants that are needed target species.

12 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
Fa r ms

Soybean, alfalfa, apples, pumpkins,

and squash are a few of the food
weeds can provide needed food for
pollinators. “ food suppli e s for
crops in the Prairie Parkland that • Minimize tillage to protect ground
can benefit from strong native bee nesting pollinators.
populations that boost pollination • Ensure water sources are scattered be e s ar e cr i tical
rates. Incorporate different plants throughout the landscape.
throughout the farm that provide • Choose a variety of native plants to
food for native populations when act as windbreaks, riparian buffers, to mai ntai ni ng
targeted crops are not in flower. and field borders throughout the
Farmers have many opportunities • Plant unused areas of the farm
to incorporate pollinator-friendly with temporary cover crops that str ong h i ve s
land management practices on their can provide food or with a variety
land which will benefit the farmer of trees, shrubs, and flowers that
in achieving his or her production provide both food and shelter for for almond
goals: pollinators.
• Manage the use of pesticides • Check with your local Natural
to reduce the impact on native Resoures Conservation Service polli nation
pollinators. Spray when bees aren’t (NRCS) office to see what technical
active (just after dawn) and choose and financial support might be
targeted ingredients. available to assist you in your effort to
• Carefully consider the use of provide nectar, pollen, and larval food th e followi ng
herbicides. Perhaps the targeted sources for pollinators on your farm.

wi nte r . ”
-- Dan Cummings,
Chico, California
almond grower.
Illustrations by Carolyn Vibbert

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 13

Public Lands

“ Fr om
h ummi ngbi r ds

to be e tle s, to

butte r fl i e s,

natur e ’s

polli nator s h e lp

k e e p Mi de wi n’s

Tallgr ass pr ai r i e
Public lands are maintained for of pollinators the land manager can:
r e stor ations specific reasons ranging from high • Inventory and become
impact recreation to conservation. knowledgeable of local pollinators.
full of di ve r se In the Prairie Parkland, forests • Provide connectivity between
have been cut to allow for roads, vegetation areas by creating
buildings, open lawn areas, boat corridors of perennials, shrubs, and
fl owe r i ng ramps, and vistas. Less disturbed trees that provide pollinators shelter
natural areas can be augmented with and food as they move through the
pl ants. I nse ct plantings of native plant species. landscape.
Existing plantings around buildings • Maintain a minimum of lawn areas
moni tor i ng and parking areas should be that support recreational needs.
evaluated to determine if pollinator- • Restrict the use of pesticides and
friendly plants can be substituted herbicides.
pr ovi de s a k e y
or added to attract and support • Provide water sources in large
pollinators. Public land managers open areas.
me asur e of our have a unique opportunity to use • Maintain natural meadows and
their plantings as an education openings that provide habitats for
succe ss. ” tool to help others understand
the importance of pollinators in
sun-loving wildflowers and grasses.
• Remove invasive species and
-- Logan Lee
the environment through signs, encroaching shrubs and trees.
Prairie Supervisor, Midewin brochures, and public programs.
National Tallgrass Prairie In an effort to increase populations

14 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
H ome L a n d s c a p e s

“ A gar de n i s
Gardeners have a wide array of The scale of your plantings will vary
plants to use in their gardens. but it is important to remember
Native plants, plants introduced that you are trying to provide
only as r ich and from years of plant exploration connectivity to the landscape
from around the world, and plants adjacent to your property. Don’t
be auti ful as th e developed by professional and just look within your property
amateur breeders can be found in boundaries. If your neighbor’s
garden centers, in catalogs, and on property provides an essential
i nte gr al h e alth
web-sites. Use your knowledge element, such as water, which can
of pollinator needs to guide your be utilized by pollinators visiting
of th e sy ste m; choices. your land, you may be able to
• Choose a variety of plants that devote more space to habitat
polli nator s will provide nectar and pollen elements that are missing nearby.
throughout the growing season. It is best to use native plants which
ar e e sse nti al to • Resist the urge to have a totally have evolved to support the needs
manicured lawn and garden. Leave of specific native pollinators. Some
th e sy ste m - mak e bare ground for ground nesting pollinators, however, are generalists
bees. Leave areas of dead wood and and visit many different plants, both
your home th e i r leaf litter for other insects. native and non-native. Be sure that
• Strive to eliminate the use of all any non-native plants you choose
home . ” pesticides.
• Find local resources to help you
to use are not invasive. Remember
that specialized cultivars sometimes
-- Derry MacBride in your efforts. Contact your local aren’t used by pollinators. Flowers
National Affairs and county extension agent or native that have been drastically altered,
plant society. Visit your regional such as those that are double or
legislation Chairwoman,
botanic gardens and arboreta. a completely different color than
garden club of America the wild species, often prevent
pollinators from finding and feeding
on the flowers. In addition, some
altered plants don’t contain the same
nectar and pollen resources that
attract pollinators to the wild types.

• CAUTION: Take time to evaluate

the source of your plant material.
You want to ensure you get plants
that are healthy and correctly
identified. Your local native plant
society can help you make informed
decisions when searching for plants.

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 15

F OR T H E P r a i r i e Pa r k l a n d, T e mp e r at e P R OV I N C E
The following chart lists plants and the time they are in bloom throughout the growing seasons. Choose a variety
of flower colors and make sure something is blooming at all times! Note for all charts: When more than one species
of the same genus is useful, the genus name is followed by “spp.”

Botanical Name Common Name March April May June July Aug Sep Oct
Trees and Shrubs
red, red,
orange, orange,
Acer spp. maple
greenish greenish
yellow yellow
yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow,
Salix spp. willow
green green green green green
white, white, white, white, white,
Rhus spp. sumac yellow- yellow- yellow- yellow- yellow-
green green green green green
pink to pink to
Cercis canadensis eastern redbud
lav lav
Prunus spp. chokecherry white white white white
pale pale
Rosa spp.* rose (wild types) pale pink pale pink
pink pink
New Jersey tea white white white white white
Rubus spp. blackberry, raspberry white white
Crataegus spp. hawthorn white white
Spiraea alba white meadowsweet white white white white
Amorpha canescens leadplant purple purple
Cephalanthus creamy creamy
occidentalis white white
Perennial Flowers
blue- blue- blue- blue-
Baptisia bracteata longbract wild indigo
purple purple purple purple
pink, pink, pink, pink,
Phlox spp. phlox purple, purple, purple, purple,
white white white white
Anemone spp. anemone, thimbleweed white white white white
blue- blue- blue- blue-
Lupinus perennis lupine, sundial lupine
purple purple purple purple
Aquilegia red & red & red & red &
wild columbine
canadensis yellow yellow yellow yellow
white, white, white, white, white, white,
bee-balm, wild yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow,
Monarda spp.
bergamot, horsemint pink, pink, pink, pink, pink, pink,
purple purple purple purple purple purple
*Rosa multiflora is an invasive species.

16 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
Botanical Name Common Name March April May June July Aug Sep Oct
Perennial Flowers continued
Coreopsis spp. tickseed yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow
Asteracea (Aster sunflower, black-eyed
yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow
family) susan, goldenrod
Viola spp. volets blue blue
pale pale pale pale
Asclepias syriaca common milkweed
purple purple purple purple
purple, purple, purple, purple, purple,
Oenothera spp. evening-primrose
yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow
white, white, white, white,
Penstemon spp. beardtongue
pink pink pink pink
yellow yellow
milkweed, butterfly yellow to
Asclepias tuberosa to to
weed orange
orange orange
Asclepias sullivantii prairie milkweed pink pink pink
pink to pink to pink to pink to pink to
Asclepias incarnata swamp milkweed
reddish reddish reddish reddish reddish
Dalea spp. white, white, white, white,
prairie clover
(syn. Petalostemum) purple purple purple purple
rose rose rose
Echinacea purpurea purple coneflower
purple purple purple
pink, pink, pink, pink,
Joe-Pye weed, boneset,
Eupatorium spp. purple, purple, purple, purple,
white white white white
red, blue- red, blue- red, blue- red, blue-
Lobelia spp. cardinal flower
violet violet violet violet
Lilium michiganense Michigan lily orange orange
pink, pink, pink, pink,
Vernonia spp. ironweed
purple purple purple purple
white, white, white, white,
Symphyotrichum spp. aster blue, blue, blue, blue,
violet violet violet violet
prairie-dock, compass
Silphium spp. yellow yellow yellow
plant, rosinweed
white, white, white,
Gentiana spp. gentian blue, blue, blue,
pruple pruple pruple
pink- pink- pink-
Liatris spp. blazing star, greyfeather
purple purple purple
orange- orange- orange-
Campsis radicans trumpet vine or creeper
red red red

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 17

P l a n t s t h at at t r a c t p ol l i n ator s
The following chart lists plants that attract pollinators. It is not exhaustive, but provides guidance on where to start.
Annuals, herbs, weeds, and cover crops provide food and shelter for pollinators, too.
Also a
Flower Visitation by host plant
Botanical Name Common Name Color Height Sun Soil see pgs
Season pollinators 20-21

Trees and Shrubs

sun to part moist, well
Acer spp. maple, box elder greenish 40-70’ Mar-Apr bees
shade drained
dry to
Amorpha canescens leadplant purple 1-3’ Jun-Jul part shade bees
Ceanothus varies sun to part dry well
New Jersey tea white 3-4’ bees X
americanus May-Sep shade drained
Cephalanthus sun to part butterflies,
buttonbush creamy white 6-12’ Jul-Aug wet
occidentalis shade bees
sun to part moist well butterflies,
Cercis canadensis eastern redbud pink-lavendar 20-30’ Apr-May X
shade drained bees
sun to part dry to butterflies,
Crataegus spp. hawthorn white 12-36’ May-Jun X
shade moist bees
wild cherry, wild plum, sun to part butterflies,
Prunus spp. white 12-72’ Apr-Jul dry X
chokecherry shade bees
white, sun to part butterflies,
Rhus spp. sumac 5-25’ Apr-Aug dry
yellow-green shade bees
med wet to
sun to part
Rosa spp. rose (wild types) pale pink 1-8’ May-Aug wet, well bees
dry to butterflies,
Rubus spp. blackberry, raspberry white 6-12’ May-Jun part shade
moist bees
Salix spp. willow yellow, green 12-70’ Mar-Jul sun to shade moist bees X
Spiraea alba white meadowsweet white 6-12’ Jun-Sep sun wet bees X

Perennial Flowers
sun to part dry to
Anemone spp. anemone, thimbleweed white 1-3’ Mar-Jun bees, flies
shade moist
part shade, sandy, well
Aquilegia canadensis wild columbine red & yellow 1-3’ Apr-Jul bees, moths, X
shade drained
pink to sun to part
Asclepias incarnata swamp milkweed 4-5’ Jun-Oct moist bees, X
reddish shade
Aesclepias sullivantii prairie millweed pink 1-3’ Jun-Aug sun moist butterflies X
Asclepias syriaca common milkweed pale purple 2-3’ May-Aug sun moist butterflies X
milkweed, butterfly yellow to sun to part butterflies,
Asclepias tuberosa 1-2’ May-Jul dry X
weed orange shade hummiingbirds
dry to
Baptisia bracteata longbract wild indigo blue-purple 3-6’ Mar-Jun part shade bees X
sun to part dry to butterflies,
Coreopsis spp. tickseed yellow 1-7’ Apr-Sep
shade moist bees

18 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
Also a
Flower Visitation by host plant
Botanical Name Common Name Color Height Sun Soil see pgs
Season pollinators 20-21

Perennial Flowers continued

Dalea spp. (syn.
prairie clover white, purple 1-3’ Jun-Sep sun dry bees
sun to part butterflies,
Echinacea purpurea purple coneflower rose-purple 2-4’ Jun-Aug wet, well
shade bees, beetles
Joe-Pye weed, boneset, pink, purple, sun to part butterflies,
Eupatorium spp. 1-10’ Jul-Oct medium
thoroughwort white shade bees
wet to wet
whte, blue,
Gentiana spp. gentian 1-3’ Aug-Oct part shade wet bees
dry to med
sun to part butterflies,
Helianthus spp. sunflower yellow 1-10’ Jul-Oct wet, well X
shade bees
lav to rose- sun to part dry to butterflies,
Liatris spp. blazing star 1-6’ Aug-Oct
purple shade moist bees
Lilium michiganense Michigan lily orange 2-6’ Jul-Aug part shade moist hummingbirds
red or blue sun to part
Lobelia spp. cardinal flower 2-3’ Jul-Oct moist bees,
violet shade
sun to part
Lupinus perennis lupine, sundial lupine blue- purple 1-3’ Apr-Jul dry sandy hummingbirds,
bee-balm, wild white, yellow, sun to part
Monarda spp. 1-3’ Apr-Sep moist bees,
bergamot, horsemint pink, purple shade
purple, sun to part
Oenothera spp. evening-primrose 1-3’ May-Sep dry to wet moths
yellow shade
Penstemon spp. beardtongue white, pink 1-5’ May-Aug part shade dry hummingbirds, X
pink, purple, sun to part
Phlox spp. phlox 1-3’ Mar-Jun dry hummingbirds,
white shade
black-eyed susan, sun to part butterflies,
Rudbeckia spp. yellow 1-6’ May-Oct moist X
coneflower shade bees
prairie-dock, compass
Silphium spp. yellow 3-8’ Jul-Sep sun dry to wet bees, flies
plant, rosinweed
sun to part dry to butterflies,
Solidago spp. goldenrod yellow 1-6’ Jun-Oct
shade moist bees
white, blue, sun to part butterflies,
Symphyotrichum spp. aster 1-6’ Jul-Oct dry to wet
purple shade bees
Vernonia spp. ironweed pink, purple 3-8’ Jul-Oct sun moist X
sun or filtered butterflies,
Viola spp. violets blue 3-8” May-Jun dry to wet X
shade bees

sun to part moist, well
Campsis radicans trumpet vine or creeper orange-red to 35’ Jul-Sep hummingbirds
shade drained

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 19

H OS T P l a n t s
The larval stage of butterflies relies on plants for food and shelter. These plants are usually different than the
ones that provide food and shelter to adult butterflies. The following chart lists plants that support specific butterfly species.

Family Subfamily Butterfly Butterfly Larval Food Plants

Common Name Scientific Name
Many plants in the pea family including yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis),
Blues (Polyommatinae) Eastern-Tailed Blue Cupido comyntas alfalfa (Medicago sativa); various species of vetch (Vicia spp.), clover (Trifolium
Gossamer-wing Butterflies

spp.), wild pea (Lathyrus spp.), and bush clover (Lespedeza spp.)

Flowers of a variety of woody shrubs and occasionally herbs including dogwood

Spring Azure Celastrina ladon
(Cornus spp.), New Jersey tea (Ceanothus spp.), and meadowsweet (Spiraea spp.)
Hairstreaks (Theclinae) Henry’s Elfin Callophrys henrici Huckleberries and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Hickory Hairstreak Satyrium caryaevorus Mostly hickory (Carya spp.); also ash (Fraxinus spp.), and oak (Quercus spp.)
Banded Hairstreak Satyrium calanus Many species of oak (Quercus spp.), walnut (Juglans spp.), and hickory (Carya spp.)
Several woody trees and shrubs in the rose (Rosaceae) family including
Striped Hairstreak Satyrium liparops American plum (Prunus americana); also reports for hornbeam (Carpinus
caroliniana), oak (Quercus spp.), and willow (Salix spp.)
Emperors (Apaturinae) Hackberry Emporer Asterocampa celtis Various hackberries (Celtis spp.) and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)
Trees of the elm family including common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), dwarf
Tawny Emperor Asterocampa clyton
hackberry (C. tenuifolia), and sugarberry (C. laevigata)
Regal Fritillary Speyeria idalia Violets (Viola spp.) including bird’s foot violet (V. pedata)
Violets (Viola spp.) including smooth white violet (V. macloskeyi ssp. pallens)
Meadow Fritillary Boloria bellona
and woolly blue violet (V. sororia)
Silver-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene Violets (Viola spp.) including northern bog violet (V. nephrophylla)
Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele Violets (Viola spp.)
Brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalidae)

A variety of plants in several families including maypops (Passiflora incarnata),

Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), violets (Viola spp.), and common
moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
Milkweed Butterflies Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), common milkweed (A. syriaca),
Monarch Danaus plexippus
(Daninae) butterfly weed (A. tuberosa), and prairie milkweed (A. sullivantii)
Snouts (Libytheinae) American Snout Libytheana carinenta Hackberry (Celtis spp.)
True Brushfoots Polygonia American elm (Ulmus americana), red elm (Ulmus rubra), hackberry (Celtis
Question Mark
(Nymphailinae) interrogationis spp.), nettles (Urtica spp.), and false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica)
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), hairy beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus), English
plantain (Plantago lanceolata), and false foxglove (Aureolaria spp.). After
Baltimore Euphydryas phaeton overwintering, caterpillars may continue to use these plants, but may also
wander and feed on unrelated plants including common lousewort (Pedicularis
canadensis), and white ash (Fraxinus americana)
Many plants including thistles (Asteraceae), hollyhock and mallow (Malvaceae),
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
and legumes (Fabaceae)
Many composites including black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), sunflowers
Silvery Cherckerspot Chlosyne nycteis
(Helianthus spp.)
Plants of the nettle family (Urticaceae) including stinging nettle (Urtica dioica),
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica),
pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica), and possibly hops (Humulus lupulus)
Willows including black willow (Salix nigra) and silky willow (S. sericea); also American
Morning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa elm (Ulmus americana), cottonwood (Populus deltoides), aspen (P. tremuloides),
paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

20 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
H os t P l a n t s conti nue d

Note for all charts: When more than one species of the same genus is useful, the genus
name is followed by “spp.”

Family Subfamily Butterfly Butterfly Larval Food Plants

Common Name Scientific Name
Gray Comma Polygonia progne azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Plants in the aster family (Asteraceae) including everlasting (Pseudognaphalium
butterflies continued

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis obtusifolium), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), plantain-leaf pussy toes

(Antennaria plantaginifolia), wormwood (Artemisia ssp.), ironweed (Vernonia ssp.)

Trees in the willow family (Salicaceae) including willows (Salix spp.), and poplars
Admirals & Relatives Viceroy Limenitis archippus
and cottonwoods (Populus spp.)
Leaves of many species of trees and shrubs including wild cherry (Prunus spp.),
Red Spotted Purple or aspen, poplar, cottonwood (Populus spp.), oaks (Quercus spp.), hawthorn
Limenitis arthemis
White Admiral (Crataegus spp.), birch (Betula spp.), willows (Salix spp.), basswood (Tilia
americana), and shadbush (Amelanchier spp.)

Spread-wing Skippers
Columbine Dustywing Erynnis lucilius Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Mottled Dustywing Erynnis martialis New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) and Jersey tea (Ceanothus herbaceus)
Common Checkered- Several plants in the mallow family (Malvaceae) including alkali mallows
Pyrgus communis
Skipper (Sida spp.), and poppy mallow (Callirhoe spp.)
Grass Skippers
Parnassians & Swallowtails (Papilionidae)

Powesheik Skipperling Oarisma powesheik Spikerush (Eleocharis elliptica)

Fall witchgrass (Digitaria cognata), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium),
Ottoe Skipper Hesperia ottoe
and other grasses
Skippers (Hesperiidae)

Crossline Skipper Polites origenes Purpletop (Tridens flavus), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and other grasses.
Byssus Skipper Problema byssus Eastern grama grass (Tripsacum dactyloides)
Swallowtails Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum); perhaps
Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus
(Paplioninae) prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)
Shrubs of the pawpaw genus (Asimina) in the custard-apple family
Zebra Swallowtail Eurytides marcellus
(Annonaceae). Young plants are preferred.
Eastern Tiger Leaves of various plants including wild cherry (Prunus spp.), basswood (Tilia
Papilio glaucus
Swallowtail americana), birch (Betula ssp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), and willow (Salix spp.)
Trees and herbs of the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, and hop
Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes
tree (Ptelea trifoliata)
Satyrs and Wood-
Common Wood Nymph Cercyonis pegala Purpletop (Tridens flavus) and other grasses
Nymphs (Satyrinae)
Various grasses including whitegrass (Leersia virginica), bearded shorthusk
Northern Pearly Eye Enodia anthedon
(Brachyelytrum erectum), and eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix)
Various sedges including upright sedge (Carex stricta), hop sedge (C. lupulina),
Eyed Brown Satyrodes eurydice bromlike sedge (C. bromoides), and hairyfruit sedge (C. trichocarpa) in the
sedge family (Cyperaceae)

Whites &
Low-growing plants in the aster family (Asteraceae) especially, sneezeweed
Sulphurs Sulphurs (Coliadinae) Dainty Sulphur Nathalis iole
(Helenium spp.), and cultivated marigold (Tagetes)

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 21

A B a si c Ch e ck l i st
B e come fa mi l i ar wi th p ol l i nator s
i n you r l and scape .

n Watch for activity throughout the day and the seasons.

n Keep a simple notebook of when and what comes to your garden.
NOTE: It is not necessary to identify each species when you first
get started. Simply note if it is a bee that likes the yellow flower that
blooms in the fall.
n Consult a local field guide or web site when you are ready to
learn more details.

Add nati ve pl ants to at tr act mor e

nati ve p ol l i nator s.

n List the plants you currently have in your landscape.

n Determine when you need additional flowers to provide nectar and
pollen throughout the growing season.
n Add plants that provide additional seasons of bloom, create variable
heights for shelter, and attract the types of pollinators you want.
n Don’t forget to include host plants that provide food and shelter for
larval development.
n Contact your local native plant society or extension agent for more

U se p ol l i nator f r i e ndly l and scape

pr acti ce s to su pp or t th e
p ol l i nator s you at tr act.

n Use Integrated Pest Management Practices to address pest concerns.

n Tolerate a little mess – leave dead snags and leaf litter, keep areas bare
for ground nesting insects, and leave some weeds that provide food for
n Provide safe access to clean water.

Noti ce th e ch ange s
th at you h ave h e l pe d to cr e ate !

22 S e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s
R e s ou r c e s

Many books, websites, and people Nati ve Pl ants Butte r fl i e s and Moth s
were consulted to gather information
for this guide. Use this list as a Plant Conservation Alliance Opler, Paul A., Harry Pavulaan,
starting point to learn more about Ray E. Stanford, Michael Pogue,
pollinators and plants in your area. coordinators. 2006. Butterflies and
Seeds of Success Moths of North America. Bozeman,
Bai le y ’s E cor e gion Maps MT: NBII Mountain Prairie
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Information Node.
USDA Forest Service Center (Version 07192007)
USDA Hardiness Zone Map Pyle, Robert Michael. 1981. National
www.usna.usda/Hardzone/ Audubon Society Field Guide to
Polli nation/Polli nator s
U.S. National Arboretum Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY.
Pollinator Partnership
ushzmap.html North American Buterfly
Coevolution Institute USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database
Natural Resources, 19 July, 2007
Conservation Service National Plant Data Center, F e e db ack Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA
We need your help to create better
North American Pollinator
guides for other parts of North
Protection Campaign Nati ve Be e s America. Please e-mail your input
USDA Forest Service National Sustainable Information or fax to 415-362-3070. Service
Wild Farm Alliance “Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees”
n How will you use this guide? by Lane Greer, NCAT Agriculture
Specialist, Published 1999, ATTRA
The Xerces Society Publication #IP126 n Do you find the directions clear? If not, please tell us
Illinois Natural History Survey nativebee.html what is unclear.
Agriculture Research Service n Is there any information you
Buchmann, S.L. and G.P. Nabhan. Plants Attractive to Native Bees table feel is missing from the guide?
1997. The Forgotten Pollinators
Island Press: Washington, DC. htm?docid=12052 n Any other comments?
Committee on the Status of
Pollinators in North America. 2007.
Th ank you
Status of Pollinators in North America
The National Academies Press: f or tak i ng
Washington, DC. th e ti me to h e l p !

Pr air ie Par k l and, Temper ate Province 23

Research and Writing: E li zabe th L . Le y
Editorial: L aur i e Davi e s Ada ms
and L ar ry Str i tch , Ph .D.

Production Supervision: K ath e r i ne McGui r e

Design: Mar gue r i te Me y e r

Concept review:
American Farm Bureau Federation, Ron Gaskell
Bureau of Land Management, Peggy Olwell, Carol Spurrier,
Plant Conservation Alliance
Mary Byrne, Mary Tisdale, Elizabeth Wooster
National Garden Association, Susanne DeJohn
Plant Conservation Alliance – Edward Fletcher, Jean Giblette,
Mary Ann Lawler, Ron Smith
Smithsonian Institute, Department of Botany,
Gary Krupnick, Ph.D.
USDA - CSREES, Greg Crosby, Ph.D., Leslie Gilbert, Ph.D.
USDA - Forest Service, David Pivorunas, Larry Stritch, Ph.D.
USDA - Natural Resource Conservation Service, Doug Holy,
Hilda Diaz-Soltero
USDOI - US Fish and Wildlife Service, Karen Anderson,
Don MacLean, Patricia DeAngelis, Ph.D.
USGS - Steve Hilburger, Elizabeth Sellers

Becky Erickson, MJ Hatfield

Carolyn Vibbert

For a copy of this brochure, or for another region, visit

The Pollinator Partnership™/North American Pollinator Protection Campaign

423 Washington St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111 – 415-362-1137
24 d www.nappc.orgS e l e c t i n g P l a n t s f or P ol l i n ator s