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Tuesday - April 28, 2009

From: Flagstaff, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Plants for butterflies, birds and bees at 7000 feet in Arizona
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What are the best plants for feeding and sheltering bees, butterflies, and birds in/near Flagstaff AZ. We are at 7,000 feet elevation and I am finding it very difficult to create a backyard habitat.


Finding plants for bees, butterflies and birds isn't too tricky, but finding such plants for 7000 feet are a bit trickier.  I used this excellent book by Anne Orth Epple, A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona, along with our Native Plant Database to find the following plants. The Epple book gives information about the plants size and describes leaves, flowers and fruits.  It also gives habitat and, importantly, the elevation where the plant grows.  Our Native Plant Database gives general information about the plant and also gives its benefits to various animals, including whether the plant serves as a larval or nectar source for butterflies.  There are more plant possibilities but the ones listed below will give you a start.  Perhaps you will be able to find a copy of the Epple book in your public library or to purchase to help you determine the elevation limits for any plants you would like to use in your garden.


Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) is larval host for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Viceroy butterflies. 

Quercus arizonica (Arizona white oak) provides acorns for turkeys, quail and songbirds.   Larval host for Meridian Duskywing (Erynnis meridianus), Short-tailed Skipper (Zestusa dorus) and Dull Firetip (Apyrrothrix araxes).

Amelanchier utahensis (Utah serviceberry) flowers have nectar for insects and birds eat berries.

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry) is larval and/or nectar host for 4 different species of moths and butterflies and its fruits are eaten by birds.

Ceanothus fendleri (Fendler's ceanothus) is host for 3 species of butterflies and moths. Here are photos and more information.


Comandra umbellata (bastard toadflax) attracts butterflies and is larval host for the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Atriplex canescens (fourwing saltbush) larval and/or nectar host for several butterflies, nectar for bees and other insects and fruits for birds.

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry) blooms for pollinators and fruits for birds.

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume) flowers have nectar for insects and shrub provides shelter and nesting sites.


Iris missouriensis (Rocky Mountain iris) for hummingbirds 

Aconitum columbianum (Columbian monkshood) for bumblebee, hawkmoths and hummingbirds.

Clematis ligusticifolia (western white clematis) hummingbirds and other birds.

Lepidium montanum (mountain pepperweed) bees, butterflies and other insects.  Larval host for Checkered White (Pontia protodice).

Heuchera sanguinea (coralbells)  for hummingbirds and here are photos and more information.

Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed), Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) and Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) are all species of milkweed and all are hosts to several butterfly species, including the Monarch.

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other birds.

Comandra umbellata

Atriplex canescens

Mahonia repens

Fallugia paradoxa

Iris missouriensis

Aconitum columbianum

Clematis ligusticifolia

Lepidium montanum

Asclepias asperula

Asclepias speciosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Lobelia cardinalis



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