Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators in Yards, Gardens, and Parks

Though not a book with hefty covers, Xerces Societies’ downloadable pamphlet, Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators in Yards, Gardens, and Parks is a MUST have reference for the neighbor of habitat.  It gives as much information as any on what to plant to be a part of the new garden phenomenon.

The booklet also describes how landscaping and natural areas in a neighborhood can help facilitate the movement of pollinators from one patch of habitat to another, and increase the likelihood that they will have enough food and nesting sites to build healthy populations.   It includes not just native plants, but flowering trees and shrubs, vegetable gardens, and even places for nesting.

Much of the information below is quoted directly from the pamphlet.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation19-038_01Xerces Society Recommended High Value Plants for Pollinators.

(SUPER)  – POLLINATOR “SUPERFOODS”—Certain native plants are known to provide exceptional forage for a wide variety of bees and other pollinators, including monarchs. See table below for a list of some of these plants.

(SpBee) –  FOOD FOR SPECIALIST BEES—Many native bees are “specialists,” only collecting pollen and other resorces from specific plants. See table below for a list of plants known to provide food for a number of specialist bees.

(LpHost) –  LEPIDOPTERA HOST PLANTS—The caterpillars of many butterflies and moths can only feed on specific plants. For example, great spangled fritillary larvae only feed on violet leaves. Some plants support an amazing diversity of lepidoptera; e.g., oaks support hundreds of butterflies and moths species. Since most native plants support at least one butterfly or moth, we use F for a genus supports over five species OR one species that doesn’t eat anything else.

High Value Plants, Region Specific

I will start my focus on the HIGH Value Plants for the Rocky Mountain Region.  The pamphlet gives other region suggestions if you are interested. As I convert from pretty to useful,  the plants below will be considered.  **Those with links are plants in my garden.  While the list below provides the general  Genus name (example Dalea),  I have search for natives found in my state that are available for purchase.  These contain the species name.

Determine whats native to state: Do search on genus name in USDA plants state search

Callirhoe [poppymallow]  SpBee

Dalea Purpurea**  [prairie clover] SpBee SUPER

Ericameria [goldenbush, rabbitbrush]  LpHost SUPER

Eriogonum umbellatum** [ wild buckwheat]  SpBee, LpHost

Geranium [wild geranium] SpBee

Heterotheca [false goldenaster] SpBee SUPER LpHost

Machaeranthera [tansyaster] LPHost SUPER  (seed)

Oenothera [evening primrose] SpBee LpHost

Sphaeralcea [globemallow] SpBee SUPER LpHost

-example of a state search on Sphaeralcea – is Sphaeralcea angustifolia pretty copper globemallow.

Vernonia [ironweed] SpBee SUPER LpHost

High Value for most regions

Appropriate for Most Regions, these plants are no less ecosystem friendly, but may not feed specific populations.


Flowering plants (Forbs/Herbs)
Agastache [giant hyssop] SUPERHelianthus [sunflower] SUPER SpBee LpHostSalvia [sage] SUPER SpBee LpHost
Asclepias [milkweed] SUPER LpHostLupinus [lupine] LpHostSolidago [goldenrod] SUPER SpBee LpHost – Have Seed from CoNPS
Cirsium [thistle (native)] SUPER SpBeeMonarda/Monardella[beebalm] SUPER SpBee LpHostSymphyotrichum [aster] SUPER SpBee LpHost
Echinacea [purple coneflower] SpBeePenstemon [beardtongue] SpBee LpHostVerbena [vervain] SpBee
Euthamia [goldentop] SUPER SpBeeRatibida [coneflower] SpBeeViola [violets] SpBee LpHost



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