Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
11 ratings

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

TREES

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.

SHRUBS

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.

HERBACEOUS PLANTS

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

 


 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Literature on native plants and wildlife from Baltimore
September 04, 2010 - Can you tell me a good review of the literature on the relation between native plants and ecology; for example, a study might indicate how native plants support more birds or other wildlife.
view the full question and answer

Native trees that host moths and butterflies for birds in Houston Texas
April 05, 2010 - I have learned that non-native or alien plants do not attract the insects that the birds need to live on. I would like to know which native trees for central Texas have the greatest hosting capacity ...
view the full question and answer

Is Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) a major nectar source for honeybees?
January 31, 2015 - Is the Sweetbay Magnolia a major nectar source for honeybees?
view the full question and answer

Bee Plants for Victoria Texas
March 09, 2013 - I live in Victoria south Texas and want to plant bee beneficial native wildflowers, could you provide advice or contact
view the full question and answer

Host plants to monarch butterflies in Starr County, TX
July 14, 2005 - I plant native larval and nectar plants that support the life cycle of the monarch butterfly here in the east; but, where can I find a list of native plants for my friends in the Tamaulipan Biotic P...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.