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Native Plants: Bees and Willow Trees

Looking at this area you can see a tall plant with a pink flower. This is Spotted Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium maculatum. It is an excellent source of nectar for butterflies and native bees. Because it has small flowers, bees with short tongues can reach the nectar. A few bee species collect pollen from this flower to feed their young.

In front of the Joe Pye Weed are some willow shrubs. Willow trees bloom early in the spring and their fluffy catkin flowers are a vital source of pollen and nectar for bees emerging in the spring. They are also larval host plants for a number of butterfly species. Without the caterpillar there can be no butterflies. Caterpillars are also an important food source for birds raising their young.

Native bees and butterflies have co-evolved with native plant species over thousands of years. Growing native plants in your garden re-creates lost habitat that can help turn around insect and bird population decline by providing food and shelter. Joe Pye Weed and Willow like moist areas. Grow them near a downspout or in a rain garden.

For more information check out East Gwillimbury Gardeners’ and the East Gwillimbury Public Library’s webinar “Native Plants and Pollinator Gardens” on YouTube:

EG Gardeners’ website also has a number of resources to help you start a pollinator garden:

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