Hug a Tree
Many gardeners are all abuzz about saving our pollinators. As a beekeeper, I am thrilled; this is a good thing. Even the big box stores have labels on some perennials that trumpet the cause. Just make sure you check the tags to confirm the plants have not been treated with neonicotinoids, a pesticide that spells death to bees.
And while many of us now understand the importance of milkweed it’s only the beginning. Protecting pollinators, which include bees, moths, butterflies, and bats, means more than planting a few pretty perennials.According to entomologist, professor, and author Doug Tallamy, the top-ranked woody genus for pollinators is Oaks (Quercus), which support 534 species. The top-ranked herbaceous plant is Goldenrod (Solidago) which, in comparison, supports 114 species.
In other words, trees are very important to pollinator health; they provide most of the earliest food available in the spring.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story, however. Many butterflies, moths, and native bees require a specific plant for survival. The monarch and its connection with milkweed has been well-publicized. All this makes for a compelling argument that gardens with an eye to the future should encompass a diversity of native plant material.
For a list of native pollinator plants and the number of species they support, check out Bringing Nature Home.