I am pleased I was finally able to attend the Design with Nature Conference held by the Wild Ones Minnesota Chapters. A presentation by Heather Holm, author of Pollinators of Native Plants, on “natives bees and their role as pollinators of native plants and cultivated blueberries” brought me some information that I had not thought of before. The bloom of several trees and shrubs are critical for the survival of our early pollinators such as some of our native bees. Examples of trees in this area would be red maple (Acer rubrum), willow (Salix L.), poplar (Populus balsamifera) and our many oaks (Quercus L.). Shrubs, for example, would be prickly ash (Zanthoxylum L.) and American bladderwort (staphylia trifolia). Although not typically considered a landscaping woodie, tag alder (Almus rugosa or Almus incana) is also an early bloomer.
I consulted Dr Robert Freckmann from U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and he wrote: “I think that willows may be the most important early flowering trees for pollen and nectar because of their abundance and because they are primarily insect pollinated. Most of the others are primarily wind pollinated.”
Trees and shrubs are critical to wildlife habitat, but so often we think in terms of warmer season plants. We need to think of early spring as well. See a list of Doug Tallamy’s native woodies as host plants for our native caterpillars, moths and butterflies, and subsequently birds and plan to add some to your natural landscaping.