Native Forbs and Wildflowers

Native Forbs and Wildflowers

Almost all wildlife species are dependent on plant species for survival. The plants provide shelter, habitat, and food. Forbs provide forage for white tailed deer and rabbits. Flowers provide nectar for pollinators. Bobwhite quail, turkeys, and various grassland bird species consume insects attracted to grassland plant species.

Below are some important forbs and wildflowers for Virginia.

Black-eyed Susan attracts a wide variety of bees, flies, and butterflies and offers habitat and food for grassland bird species. This perennial forb is easy to grow and is tolerant of most soils. They can grow in fields, meadows, and roadsides. The flowers resemble yellow rays around a woody cone. They require full sun to part shade.

Learn more at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Common Milkweed is a tall forb with large cones of pink-to-purple flowers, best known for its association with Monarch butterflies. Monarch numbers are declining due to lack of appropriate habitat along the lengthy migratory route from the Mid Atlantic to central Mexico. Milkweed is the only type plant on which the eggs are laid and after hatching the larvae feed on the leaves. Milkweed also contains the chemical cardiac glycoside, which make the monarch caterpillar's flesh toxic to most predators. Milkweed species are attractive to many other insect and bee species as well.

Learn more at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Maximilian sunflower is an ideal species for habitat development in hayfields and pastures. It is a palatable livestock forage and offers numerous benefits to wildlife. Butterflies, beetles, and bees benefit from the pollen produced by the flowers. Butterfly and moth caterpillars feed on the green material. Upland game birds and small non-game birds consume the seeds. Habitat and cover are generated for small mammals and birds. Maximilian sunflower also offers utility in buffer-strip plantings. It can grow anywhere from 3-10 feet tall, with long, narrow leaves that get shorter near the top. Several yellow flower heads grow from the leaf axils.

Learn more at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

New England aster is known for attracting butterflies, moths, and bee species as well as providing wildlife habitat and food. It can grow up to 6 feet or more in height, with dense, hairy leaves on the stems. The flowers are a bright pink-purple color with orange-yellow centers. This plant grows in partial shade and moist soil conditions.

Learn more at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Wild Bergamot attracts birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and many native bee and bumble bee species. The vegetative material provides important winter habitat for insects. Clusters of purple, pink, or white flowers can be seen growing on stems 2-5 feet tall. The leaves give off a minty aroma. This plant can grow in sun or part shade, in dry or moist soils.

Learn more at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
 
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