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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 02, 2011

From: St. Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Bee-attracting vine for shade from St. Paul MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need a vine for shade that attracts bees. I am in Minnesota, zone 4a. Thanks

ANSWER:

We first went to our Native Plant Database and searched on Minnesota and "vine" under General Appearance. This yielded 48 possibilities, which seemed a lot to search individually, so we tried Recommended Species, which gave us exactly 2 vines recommended for Minnesota:

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) which had this information (follow the plant link to read our entire webpage)

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, seeds. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of conciousness. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Attracts: Birds"

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper),

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if Eaten! Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, headache, sweating, weak pulse, drowsiness, twitching of face. Toxic Principle: Oxalic acid and possibly others. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.) Also, the plants tissues contain raphides, which can irritate the skin of some people. It is far less likely to irritate, and less irritating than, Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), though, which it somewhat resembles and with which it is often confused.
 Attracts: Birds"

So, that's ought for two. We'll go back and see what we can find out in the other 46 vines from Minnesota. We narrowed the search down this time by indicating the need for shade in our search. This yielded exactly one vine that fit your specification:

Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles) - attracts hummingbirds and bees

We went on another tangent, searching the Internet on "bee plants for Minnesota."

Supporting Pollinators: Bee-Friendly Plants - Minnesota

Why Be Wild Bee Friendly? Minnesota Department of Conservation

Bees in Minnesota? What Bees?

None of these websites mentioned vines. If you are more interested in vines than bees, you can probably find a number of vines that would work in your chosen area. If you are more interested in bees than in vines for shade, then all of these articles have good information on regular herbaceous blooming plants that attract bees. They are not necessarily plants native to Minnesota, so they are out of our realm of expertise.

Also, consider reading the book Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy. See Bibliography below.

 

 

 

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