Why are we so interested in planting native plants and trees for wildlife on the island? A book by Douglas W. Tallamy titled “Bringing Nature Home: How You can Sustain Wildlife on Native Plants” brings up some interesting ideas! We often plant trees, shrubs, and plants for wildlife and birds based on the seeds or fruits which they produce. Another important feature for wildlife, especially birds, is how many insects or caterpillars (immature stage of butterflies and moths, order Lepidoptera) a certain plant can support. Did you know that there are 532 species of butterflies or moths that feed on oak trees? Willow, black cherry, and cottonwood support from 450-350 different species. Walnut trees support 130 different species! The book lists which species of butterflies need specific native shrubs or plants to feed on as immature caterpillars.
We all know about monarch caterpillars needing milkweed to feed on. The little known hoptree or wafer ash supports the caterpillars of the Giant Swallowtail, a beautiful butterfly to have around. And immature butterflies and moths as well as other insects are very important food sources for birds in addition to being beautiful to watch. So take a look at the native trees and plants for sale in this newsletter and keep them in mind as you plan your yard with wildlife and birds in mind.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database