January 19, 2022
Inexpensive Trees and Shrubs for Pollinators
Insect pollinators need to eat more than just flower nectar and pollen. Caterpillars (butterfly and moth larvae) eat the leaves of plants, referred to as host plants. The top 10 host plants for caterpillars are hardwood trees with oaks leading the way, hosting over 500 species of moths and butterflies. Author Doug Tallamy refers to the top host plants as keystone species. The DEC Spring Seedling Sale is an excellent source for inexpensive trees and shrubs, many of which are top pollinator host plants or keystone species.
January is the time to order tree and shrub seedlings from the DEC’s Saratoga Tree Nursery. The nursery offers bare-root seedlings for as little as $1 each. These inexpensive seedlings are advertised as 5” to 14” tall. Some plants are actually much taller and are quite a bargain. Ordering starts January 3rd and continues to May 13th for the 2022 season but it’s best to order early because supplies are limited. To order seedlings, call (518) 587-1120 or visit: https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9395.html
Below is a listing of trees and shrubs offered at the DEC’s Spring Seedling Sale:
Hardwood Species – 25 for $30
Wildlife Habitat Shrubs/Small Trees – 25 for $20
For more ideas about which native species to select for pollinator friendly plantings, see this New York Times article by Margaret Roach Why the Best Trees Aren’t Always the Biggest.
Many of the species mentioned in this article are in the DEC seedling sale.
Also check this list of the top pollinator host plants when choosing which hardwoods to purchase.
Top 10 Keystone Species:
Quercus Oaks, support 543 (Lepidoptera) species.
Prunus Cherry, 456 species.
Salix Willow, 455 species.
Betula Birch, 411 species.
Populus Poplar, 367 species.
Malus Apple, 308 species.
Acer Maple, 297 species.
Vaccinium Blueberry, 294 species.
Alnus Alder, 255 species.
Carya Hickory, 235 species.
For more information about the Wallkill Valley Pollinator Pathway, visit: https://wallkillvalleylt.org/pp/