Pollinator Pocket Guide

A Celebration of God’s Divine Creation

Our Certified Wildlife Habitat® ID is: 259938

Notes

[1] The majority of this information comes from the Illinois Wildflowers website 

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) designations are used instead of Latin scientific names.

[2] “X!.” denotes plants on the Xerces Society list of top two dozen pollinator species based on their contribution to healthy plant communities, food for wildlife and crop production. 

[3] “W!__.” indicates the number of species of invertebrates (insects or almost entirely insects) that spend the winter in or on the stem of the plant. 

What’s in the Pollinator Garden?

Black-Eyed Susan High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Minor source of winter seed for birds which eat and may disperse them. A very popular urban landscape flower.
 
Blue Vervain Very common in moist environments. Host to a huge variety of insects in various stages of life which feed on various parts of the plant. Various songbirds sometimes eat the seed.
 
Bluejacket AKA Ohio Spiderwort The blooms open up during the partial or nonexistent morning sun and close during the full sun later in the day. The variety of insect visitors is relatively narrow but includes long-tongued bees such as bumblebees. A variety of mammals eat the plant, notably rabbits.
Brown-Eyed Susan does not need insects for pollination, but its nectar and pollen attract a huge host of widely divergent insects. Other insects feed destructively on the plant.
 
Butterfly Milkweed Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Nectar popular with many bees. Monarch caterpillars must have milkweed leaves to survive.
Cardinal flower A popular landscape flower and fairly attractive to hummingbirds and to monarch and swallowtail butterflies. But in general it is not a particularly valuable ecosystem element. The flowers appear to be black to honeybees.
 
Common Evening Primrose Host to goldfinches, which eat the seeds, and Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. The nectar and pollen attract a variety of insects. Various beetles and the caterpillars of several moths feed on the foliage.
 
Common milkweed Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Monarch caterpillars must have milkweed leaves to survive. Milkweed is toxic to most insects and other fauna, but 450 insects feed on the plant. [5] The tap roots can go 13 feet deep and the horizontal rhizome roots spread 10 feet. [6]
 
Compass Plant M! The leaves point north/south. Root depth to 16′ according to NRCS. To 12′ tall.
 
Culver’s Root X!. W!18. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] The strikingly elegant spikes of white blooms are popular with a very wide variety of bees.
 
Cup Plant X!. W!23. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Hosts to many bees and butterflies. May live to 100 years. Major source of winter seed for birds, which eat and may disperse them. May have roots 15′ deep. To 10′ tall.
 
Cutleaf Coneflower W!31. The nectar and pollen of the flower attract a very wide variety of insects, some of which feed destructively on the plant.
 
Downy Phlox The nectar of the flowers attracts a fairly wide variety of visitors, especially long-tongued bees, butterflies, and skippers. Many insects feed destructively on parts of the plants such as flowers and developing seeds. Mammals such as rabbits and groundhogs feed aggressively on the plant and may make it difficult to maintain.
 
Eastern Purple Coneflower X!. Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Host to bees and butterflies, including honeybees and several of the over 250 species of bumblebees. Honeybees “waggle dance” at their bee hive to communicate to each other a surprisingly precise location of this and other coneflowers over 3½ miles away. [6] The flower heads are hosts to several moth caterpillars. Minor source of winter seed for eastern birds which eat and may disperse them. A popular modern herbal cough medicine. A very popular urban landscape flower.
 
Fleabane (Prairie & Annual) Attracts predatory or parasite insects that prey upon and kill harmful insects. [5] Over 40 kinds of insects feed on the plant, about half of which are so esoteric they have no common name. [1] Combats the harmful garlic mustard weed. Rabbits are very eager to consume prairie fleabane flower petals.
Foxglove Beardtongue X!. The tubular flowers of this plant attract a large array of native bees such as long-tongued bees, notably honeybees and bumblebees. The flowers attract hummingbirds to some extent. Mammals may browse on the plant if other options are scarce.
Mountain Mint X!. The flowers are highly attractive to a variety of insects including small butterflies, bees, wasps and beetles.
 
New England Aster X!. W!14. The bloom lasts so late into the fall/winter the pollen and nectar is an essential food source (perhaps at times the only food source) for late surviving pollinators, notably migrating monarchs and pre-hibernation bumblebee queens. The plant requires cross pollination by insects to propagate. Rabbits occasionally eat on the foliage, sometimes consuming the entire plant.
 
Partridge Pea Host to a huge variety of insects in various stages of life. A very interesting and attractive plant. Bloom Jul-Sep.
 
Prairie Blazingstar X!. W!20. A “butterfly magnet” [2] but also a popular host to long-tongued bees such as honeybees and bumblebees. Rabbits and groundhogs are so eager to eat the young plants the species may not be very viable in some areas.
 
Prairie Dock Hosts hummingbirds. Major source of winter seed for birds which eat and may disperse them. The leaves, like that of compass plant, point north/south. Up to 10′ tall. [1]
 
Prairie Ironweed X!. W!13. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Major source of very durable winter seed for birds which eat and may disperse them. Durable seeds may remain fertile in the soil for fifty years.
 
Purple Giant Hyssop X!. Produces long-lasting, nectar-rich blooms [2] A mint.
 
Rattlesnake Master X!. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Popular host to an incredible diversity of insects [3!] Leaves were used to make sandals 9,000 years ago.
 
Red Columbine Bumblebees consume the nectar and collect pollen for their larvae. Hummingbirds are occasional visitors. A popular landscape flower, but if the plant is any color but red it is not a native version of the plant. Bloom May-Jul.
 
Sawtooth Sunflower W!9. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Host or a wide variety of butterflies, moths, beetles flies, and especially bees such as bumblebees and honeybees. The seeds are a favorite food of several birds and rodents which may spread them. May grow to 10’ or even 12’ tall.
 
Shooting Star The odd shaped flowers host bees, especially bumblebee queens, which collect the pollen by the rapid, dramatic vibration of their thoracic muscles, which is sometimes called ‘buzz pollination.’ [1]
 
Smooth Oxeye Sunflower W!13. High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] A huge variety of insects feed on the nectar and pollen of the flower heads and on the stems, leaves, seeds, and other parts of the plant.
 
Stiff Goldenrod X!. Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] As popular with Monarchs as common milkweed [5] A popular host for solitary wasps, honey bees, pollen-eating soldier beetles, and many more. Roots up to 15′ deep. 
 
Swamp Milkweed X!. Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] A number of visitors seek the nectar: bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds. Monarch caterpillars are one of the larvae that feed, often destructively, on the leaves.[5] A very showy reddish/pink bloom.
 
Sweet Coneflower A huge variety of insects eat not only the nectar and pollen, but the tissue of the flowers, stems and roots, often to a destructive degree.
 
White Wild Indigo W!14. A striking wildflower. Flowers pollinated by worker bumblebees. A legume.
 
Wild Bergamot X!. Very High Value Monarch butterfly plant [4] Popular host to hummingbirds, hawk moths, and long-tongued bumble bees. [2] A very popular urban landscape flower. Very common in most remnant prairies. A square stemmed mint.
 
Wild Quinine The flowers attract a fairly wide variety of bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and other insects. The sandy, bitter leaves are not popular with mammals. Used as a questionably effective substitute for aspirin during World War I.
 
Yellow Coneflower AKA Pinnate Prairie Coneflower Bees, especially bumblebees, are the most important pollinators. Wasps, flies, small butterflies, and beetles are other insect visitors. Birds sometimes eat and disperse the seeds. Very common in most remnant prairies. Leaves are pinnately divided into multiple opposite lobes.

Notes:

[1] “Illinois Wildflowers” https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/”
[2] “POLLINATOR PLANTS Great Lakes Region” https://xerces.org/sites/default/files/2018-05/17-047_03_XercesSoc_Pollinator-Plants_Great-Lakes-Region_web-4page.pdf
[3] “Fauna Overwintering I or On Stems of Wisconsin Prairie Forbs”
https://facilities.unca.edu/sites/default/files/Williams_overwintering.pdf
[4] “PNRCS Plant Recommendations for Monarch Butterflies” https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/cepmstn12677.pdf
[5] US Forest Service “Plant of the Week, Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.)” https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/asclepias_syriaca.shtml
[6] “Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide”
https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=70
[7] “Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center” https://www.wildflower.org/plants/

[8] “What’s the Waggle Dance? And Why Do Honey Bees Do It?” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/science/whats-the-waggle-dance-and-why-do-honeybees-do-it/

[9] “Plant Database” https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ERST3