Wisconsin Pollinator-Friendly Native Trees

Pussy Willow, Salix discolor, pollination by bees The numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining. They are threatened by habitat loss, disease, and the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides. The loss ofcommercial bees to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has highlighted how severe the issues of proper hive management are to reduce stresses caused by disease, pesticide use, insufficient nutrition, and transportation practices.

The efforts to understand the threats to commercial bees should help us understand other pollinators and their roles in the environment as well. It is imperative that we take immediate steps to help pollinator populations thrive. The beauty of the situation is that by supporting pollinators’ need for habitat; we support our own needs for food and support diversity in the natural world.

Considerable focus has been place on adding native grasses and forbs to support pollinators, but trees also provide nectar and pollen. Consider the incredible quantity of nectar produced by a tree in bloom. Now consider the compounded effect of many trees blooming in strategic sequence throughout the growing season. Trees can provide excellent food for honey bees and many other pollinators, your top choice should always be regionally appropriate. A tree that’s comfortable in its environment is much more likely to be a healthy tree.

Many native trees blossom in early spring, like the Pussy Willow, providing sources of pollen for hungry, early-emerging pollinators.

The following chart provides a list of trees native to our area that can provide support to native pollinators. Consider adding these plants to your pollinator garden plan. The chart indicates the blooming sequence of each of the species.

Botanical Name Common Name MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
Acer rubrum Red Maple
Amelanchier arborea Downy Serviceberry
Aronia melanocarpa Black Chokeberry
Catalpa speciosa Northern Catalpa
Cercis canadensis Eastern Redbud
Cornus sericea Red Twig Dogwood
Lindera benzoin Northern Spicebush
Malus pumila Native Apple
Morus rubra Red Mulberry
Physocarpus puulifolius Common Ninebark
Prunus americana American Plum
Prunus pensylvanica Black Cherry
Rhys glabra Smooth Sumac
Salix discolor Pussy Willow
Sambucus canadensis Common Elderberry
Sassafras albidum Sassafras
Tilia americana American Basswood
Vaccinium angustifolium Lowbush Blueberry
Viburnum prunifolium Blackhaw Viburnum

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