Native Plants and Pollination
Native Plants include herbaceous plants, grasses, shrubs, and trees. These plants co-evolved with pollinator insects, birds, and other wildlife species over thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem.
Why are Native Plants So Important?
Native plants provide nutrient-rich pollen and nectar to many native bee species and other pollinators. Native plants also support plant-eating insects and caterpillars, which become good sources of protein for a large percentage of birds, bats and other wildlife species. For a better understanding of native plants that will flourish in your region, Find my Eco-region.
“Native plants provide food and shelter for 10-15 times more species of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife than non-native plants.” - CT Audubon.
What is Pollination?
Pollination helps plants to reproduce. Pollinators such as bees and wind help to transfer pollen from the anther (male part) of a flowering plant to the stigma (female part) of the same plant species. Successful pollination allows plants to produce seeds that grow the next generation of plants.
Plants’ unique shapes, sizes and colors have evolved to attract different species of pollinators. These plants also satisfy a pollinator’s nutritional needs by providing the best source of pollen and nectar.
Native pollinators include many species of bees, butterflies, flower flies, beetles, hummingbirds, and moths. Moths (undervalued insects), are pollinators of the night-shift. Adults and their caterpillars are a hugely important food source for birds and other wildlife.
And we cannot forget to mention other beneficial insects that serve an important role in controlling many garden pests. Some are considered minor pollinators. These ‘beneficials’ are many and include lady beetles, lacewings and fireflies.
Host Plants, Specialist & Generalist Pollinators
Butterfly caterpillars exemplify the important relationship between insects and native plants. All species of butterfly caterpillars require specific host (food) plants in order to grow and develop into adult butterflies. The Monarch butterfly caterpillar, for example, requires plants in the milkweed family (Asclepias). Milkweeds are the only food the Monarch caterpillar can eat.
Many moth and butterfly caterpillars feed on leaves of native trees and shrubs. Additionally, many native plants support an abundance of caterpillars. These are known as Keystone Plants.
Similarly, some native bees are ‘specialists’ and only collect pollen for their young from a single plant or plant species. Their emergence coincides with plant bloom and adults will only live for six to eight weeks. Providing plants for specialist bees also benefits bees that are ‘generalist’ pollinators who seek pollen from a wide-range of flowers.
Best Things about Natives
Native Herbaceous Plants & Shrubs
flourish without synthetic pesticides.
require less care since they are adapted to our local climate and soils.
rarely need watering once established.
provide food and cover for wildlife.
contribute to biodiversity.
connect us to our unique natural surroundings.
keep our air and waterways clean and prevent soil erosion.
sequester carbon more efficiently than non-natives.
Native Plants are beautiful!