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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for pollinators & honey bees in PA

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Monday - March 12, 2012

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pollinators
Title: Plants for pollinators & honey bees in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

In the database section entitled "Value to Beneficial Insects" on the page for "Tilia americana L" (also known as the Bee Tree, or Linden Tree, American Basswood); the tree is identified as being of "special value to Honey bees". Is there a way to search your database or the USDA plant database for this category? I have been trying all day to do so, but cannot. There are thousands of new honey beekeepers who would like to know (I know that they are not native pollinators, but they are important to our gardens), which have many non-native fruits and vegetables).

ANSWER:

You are right ... we can search our database for a number of different characteristics, but wildlife benefit is not one of them at this time.  However, as you are already aware, there is a huge interest in honey bees and pollinators in general because of their importance to our food crops.  So there is plenty of information out there for you.

You will find valuable information and many other links here at the University of Georgia Honeybee Program and (closer to home) here at the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research.  The Penn State site has recommendations for making your garden more pollinator friendly and links to resource groups and organizations.

You can find the information in the database but with a bit more work than you had in mind.  If you visit the database and do a Combination Search for Pennsylvania, selecting the plant type (shrub/tree/herbacious perennial or annual) and your conditions (sun/shade or part shade) it will generate lists of plants with links to the detailed page.  You can quickly scan for the pollinator information.  You can also create separate lists for bloom time (as you know, your bees will be looking for food throughout the growing season).

Here are some shrubs that are native to Pennsylvania and may be of interest to you:

Blooms springtime

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

(all the hollies are good nectar sources for bees)

Blooms spring/summer

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry)

Blooms mid summer

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick)

Baccharis halimifolia (Groundseltree)

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush)

And don't forget about your Basswood; it is considered one of the very best native trees for attracting pollinators of all types.

 

From the Image Gallery


American basswood
Tilia americana

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Highbush blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum

Devil's walkingstick
Aralia spinosa

Groundseltree
Baccharis halimifolia

Coastal sweet pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

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