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Featured Plant Archive

July 2017 - Featured Plant: Common Blue Violet

Widespread and flexible in its habitat needs, Common Blue Violet is an early nectar supply for pollinators and it leaves are relied on as a food source for Fritillary butterfly caterpillars. Common Blue Violet is native across Minnesota and spreads easily when given space, making it an attractive and low-maintenance ground cover for a variety of shady habitats. Flowers bloom early and often, and are even edible. Read the story here.

June 2017 - Featured Plant: Virginia Waterleaf

With an ability to spread after disturbance, Virginia Waterleaf helps stabilize soils and rebuild forest plant communities after the removal of buckthorn and other invasive plants. The species has attractive foliage and flowers that bloom early in the season when there can be a lack of floral resources for pollinators. The waterleaf cuckoo bee and Andrena bees are two species that rely on the flowers of Virginia Waterleaf. Read the story here.

May 2017 - Featured Plant: Wild Mint

With an ability to spread by seed or rhizomes in moist soils, Wild Mint is widespread across Minnesota and much of the United States. It is a valuable sources of pollen and nectar for pollinators in wetland habitats, and its clones provide dense cover for other wildlife. The species is too aggressive for many cultivated gardens but it is beneficial in riparian plantings where it can compete with invasive species. A strong mint odor is released when the leaves are crushed and the leaves are used for cooking, teas, and essential oils. Read the story here.

April 2017 - Featured Plant: Bebb’s Willow

Growing up to twenty feet tall and thriving in a variety of moist habitats, Bebb’s Willow plays an important role in stabilizing soils and providing wildlife habitats. It can be found as individual plants in wet meadows as well as in dense stands within shrub wetlands. Like other willows, it provides important early season sources of pollen and nectar for pollinators. Its ability to establish quickly and spread in riparian areas makes it well suited for buffer plantings and stream bank stabilization projects. Read the story here.

March 2017 - Featured Plant: Red-Osier Dogwood

Known for its vibrant red bark, red-osier dogwood is easy to spot in the landscape during the fall and winter months. It produces white flower clusters in May that are used by a wide variety of pollinators. As a large deciduous shrub, Cornus sericea is a vigorous species that flourishes in many open, moist conditions and is a favorite landscape plant for aesthetics and attracting wildlife. It is also commonly used to stabilize shorelines as part of bioengineering practices. Read the story here.

February 2017 - Featured Plant: Red Raspberry

Native and cultivated raspberries are appreciated for their abundant fruit, but they provide many other landscape functions. Their open flowers make them accessible to a wide range of native pollinators and they can colonize and stabilize soils in many disturbed conditions. Wild Red Raspberry has seeds that are widely spread by birds and animals and can last in the soil up to 100 years. Due to the plant’s adaptability it is found in many habitats including roadsides, abandoned pastures, woodland edges and wetlands. Learn more here.

January 2017 - Featured Plant: American Highbush Cranberry

Attractive flowers and foliage and an abundance of bright red drooping berries that last through winter months give American Highbush Cranberry year-round interest. Perhaps no other shrub has been planted more often for wildlife and conservation plantings given its habitat value for birds and animals, edible fruit, pollinator benefits, effectiveness as a living snow fence and ability to stabilize soils in riparian areas. Learn more here.

December 2016 - Featured Plant: Lowbush Blueberries

Found throughout Minnesota and much of the Great Lakes region, Lowbush Blueberries are prized for making pies, jams, wine, juices, and a wide variety of foods. The fruit is also sought by many wildlife species including black bears, deer, bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, robin, doves, and turkeys. The flowers are a nectar and pollen source for andrenid bees, bumblebees, and honey bees. With attractive flowers and foliage, this resilient species makes a good addition to home landscapes that have acidic soils and full sun. Learn more here.

November 2016 - Featured Plant: Red Maple

Valued for its brilliant fall color, red maple also provides a wide range wildlife benefits. It is an important early source of pollen and nectar for native bees and honeybees, it provides seeds for small mammals and is a home for cavity nesters including squirrels, woodpeckers, wood ducks, chickadees and nuthatches. Red maple is common along forested lakes, rivers and streams where its combination of a tap root and fibrous roots stabilize shorelines. Learn more here.

October 2016 - Featured Plant: False Indigo

Pounding waves, ice flows and flooding create difficult conditions for plants, but with its extensive root system False Indigo is a species that is adapted to these difficult conditions. It is often found on the shores of large rivers and lakes, where it plays an important role in stabilizing soils and providing wildlife habitat. In addition to assisting songbird and pollinator populations, the species also supports a wide range of moth and caterpillar larvae. Learn more here.

September 2016 - Featured Plant: Nannyberry

With white flowers and vibrant fall color, the adaptable Nannyberry adds interest to gardens and native plantings in mesic to moist soils. This native shrub is a popular landscaping plant over most of Minnesota, used for soil stabilization, buffers and wildlife habitat. It is also a good option for replanting after buckthorn removal. Pollinators are attracted to the nectar and pollen and many birds and rodents eat the dark blue fruit - which have a wet wool odor in autumn. Learn more here.

August 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Smooth Wild Rose

Several wild rose species add to the beauty of Minnesota’s landscapes. Smooth Wild Rose is a widespread and attractive native shrub that is valuable to native bees and other insects and develops nutrient rich rose hips. It can spread aggressively underground after it is established, making it effective at soil stabilization along waterways but sometimes too aggressive for smaller stormwater plantings. Read more here.

July 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: American Wild Plum

The grocery store isn’t the only place plums are found in Minnesota. The American Wild Plum is a thicket forming small tree that is widespread across the state. They produce dark red plums about an inch in diameter that are valued by a wide range of wildlife species, as well as human foragers who eat them raw or use them in jams and jellies. Learn more about the Featured Plant, another pollinator favorite, here.

June 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Black Cherry and Chokecherry

The fruit from Black Cherry and Chokecherry trees is a favorite and has many uses in jams, jellies, and flavoring. Along with their fruit, these cherry trees are used for mine reclamation, wood production and as a wildlife food source. They grow in a variety of environments including prairies and forests. Pollinators are attracted to the white pungent flowers for the nectar and pollen. Learn more about the featured plant here.

May 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Black Chokeberry

Plantings along roadsides help create pollinator habitat and the plants used can have a variety of uses. Black chokeberry is the only species of Aronia native to Minnesota. Valued in landscaping for its three seasons of color, the berries are high in antioxidants and are used to make jellies and fruit drinks. Learn more about the featured plant here.

April 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Buttonbush

If not for its spherical clusters of bright white flowers, Buttonbush would be much harder to identify. It’s valuable for stormwater and shoreline projects, and well suited to growing in floodplains and wetlands. As a rich pollen and nectar source, it attracts monarchs, bumblebees and a wide range of other pollinators. Learn more here.

March 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Meadowsweet

Wetlands can play an important role in providing pollinator habitat, as they often contain a diversity of flowering forbs, shrubs and trees. Meadowsweet is a low growing shrub in the Rose family that occurs in a variety of wetland habitats and provides nectar and pollen to native bees and butterflies. Learn more here.

February 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Leadplant

A resilient prairie shrub, Leadplant can live well over 100 years thanks to that heartiness and deep root systems that can extend ten to fifteen feet deep. The species grows in soils ranging from sands to clays, adding to its versatility and making it one of the most widespread prairie plants across the Midwest. The species is a legume, so it can fix nitrogen in the soil, benefitting other plant species. Its flowers are a rich pollen and nectar source for a wide range of native insects as well as honey bees. Learn more here.

January 2016 - Featured Plant of the month: Common Ninebark

Ninebark’s attractive foliage, leaves and seed capsules provides habitat structure and serves as a food resource throughout the year. A large shrub, it’s better suited to field borders and riparian areas where it can handle a variety of moisture levels and help stabilize soil. During its blooming season, it’s regularly visited by a wide variety of pollinators. Learn more here.

December 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: American Elderberry

American Elderberry is an excellent shrub for riparian buffers as it has attractive flowers, provides exceptional wildlife value, and stabilizes soils with an extensive root system. Its vibrant white flowers bloom in late summer and develop into black berries that are prized by small mammals, as well as a wide variety of birds including cardinals, sparrows, waxwings, catbirds, robins, and finches. Learn more here.

November 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Canada Milk Vetch

November’s Featured Plant, the Canada Milk Vetch, plays an important ecological role by adding nitrogen to nutrient-poor soils. It’s also an important food source for grazers such as deer and cattle, and provides important pollinator habitat for long-tongued bees. Learn more here.

October 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Nodding Bur-Marigold

October’s Featured Plant is a prolific seed producing annual that develops an abundance of flowers in areas of disturbed soil such as shorelines or the base of ditches. It is good source of pollen and nectar for insects, and its seeds are used by a variety of songbirds. Learn more here.

September 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: New England Aster

A great species for riparian buffer plantings, New England Aster produces an abundance of flowers from early September through late fall. A popular nectar source for Monarch butterflies, it also a wide range of other insects including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, skippers, native flies, and caterpillars. A resilient species, it’s great for lakeshore planting, buffers and along the edges of stormwater ponds. Learn more here.

August 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Giant Hyssop

Considered a high value nectar source for both honey bees and native bees, blue giant hyssop has become a popular choice for a wide range of plantings including mesic prairies, savannas, raingardens, shorelines, and the edges of stormwater ponds. Another pollinator favorite, the plant is also enjoyed for its aromatic leaves, which smell like licorice. Learn more here.

July 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Obedient Plant

Naturally found in floodplains and other moist habitat, Obedient Plant is a tough customer that competes well with weeds in both sunny and partially shaded conditions. Often too aggressive for small raingardens, this pollinator is a great addition to larger stormwater plantings, swales, shorelines and wet meadows. Learn more here.

June 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Prairie Coneflower

With a distinctive, long central disk and divided leaves, the Prairie Coneflower introduces color and texture to the landscape. The species is found in prairies and savannas across the Great Plains of the United States, where it is used by pollinators, small mammals, songbirds, and grazers. It is commonly used in prairie restorations and the upper edge of stormwater plantings, but can also help reclaim degraded, nutrient poor sites. Learn more here.

May 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Black Eyed Susan

Valued for its vibrant yellow flowers and soft leaves, Black eyed Susan also plays many important ecological roles. It can establish on nutrient poor sites making it well suited for reclamation projects, roadsides and other disturbed areas. Another pollinator-friendly plant, it’s especially valuable for native bees, beetles and flies. Learn more here.

April 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Canada Anemone

A combination of strong underground roots and overall toughness make the Canada anemone well-suited for challenging environments. Because it can easily spread, it’s not the best candidate for smaller raingardens or other areas where it can become overly dominant. A habitat for a wide variety of pollinators including bees, beetles, and native flies, the plant also has a long history of medicinal uses. Learn more here.

March 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Joe Pye Weed

A long list of native insects are supported by the flowers, leaves and stems of Joe Pye Weed, including moths, butterflies, and a wide-variety of bees. Its stems provide a good nesting habitat for many native bees over the winter. It’s also an attractive addition to stormwater and lakeshore planting, providing nutrient and pollutant treatment benefits. Learn more here.

February 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Grass-leaved Goldenrod

Creating a network of tough, underground roots, grass-leaved goldenrod is effective as stabilizing shorelines as well as slowing and filtering stormwater. It is an excellent species for riparian waterways as it can aggressively compete with weedy species and also provides important pollinator resources for native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles. Learn more here.

January 2015 - Featured Plant of the month: Showy Lady’s Slipper

Showy Lady’s Slipper, one of 43 orchids found in Minnesota, was named the state flower in 1902. When flowering, it can be easy to spot in fens, bogs, swamps and moist roadsides in northern Minnesota. A pollen source for leaf-cutter bees, the plant has been protected in the wild from collection since 1925. Learn more here.

December 2014 - Featured Plant of the month: Purple Prairie Clover

With its fine textured, delicate appearance, one wouldn’t expect purple prairie clover to be such an ecological powerhouse, adding nitrogen to nutrient poor soils, stabilizing degraded, erodible lands with a deep taproot, and providing a rich source of nectar and pollen to honey bees and a variety of native pollinators. Due to its ecological and aesthetic properties purple prairie clover is widely used on the upper edge of raingarden, biofiltration, and lakeshore plantings, in pollinator gardens, and in mine reclamation projects. Learn more here.

November 2014 - Featured Plant of the month: Bottle Gentian

Bottle gentian has a unique association with bumblebees that help ensure efficient pollination, seed production, and ultimately the future of the species. Gentians are slow to establish from seed, so they are most commonly planted from containers or from the separation of clumps. They add to the aesthetics of stormwater and shoreline plantings while also helping to sustain bumblebee populations. Learn more here.

October 2014 - Featured Plant of the month: Stiff Goldenrod

Monarch Butterflies often rely on stiff goldenrod as a rich source of nectar to prepare for fall migration. Native bees, flies, beetles, moths, and other butterfly species are also drawn to the species to prepare for winter. In the case of bumblebees that collect and store nectar they must collect enough to survive an entire winter. With bright yellow flowers, attractive leaves and upright stems the species is widely used for project ranging from stormwater ponds, shorelines and savanna restorations. Learn more here.

Photo Credit: Steven/Denise Gahm

September 2014 - Featured Plant of the month: Maximillian Sunflower

‘Discovered’ and named by Prince (and botanist) Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied Germany, Maximilian Sunflower is an important food source for pollinators, birds, and mammals. This native perennial can grow to be quite tall, up to ten feet in height, and provides a striking focal point in contrast to smaller native prairie grasses and forbs. Read more here.

August 2014 - Featured Plant of the month: Cow Parsnip

With a height around seven feet tall, a bright white flower head and leaves around two-feet wide cow parsnip is easy to spot in moist habitats across Minnesota. Used by caterpillars, pollinators and songbirds, it isn’t commonly planted, but can be an attractive addition to restoration projects. Read more here.

July 2014 - Prairie Smoke

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) has finished blooming for the season, but their wispy, smoke-like seedheads are just starting to ripen in prairies and native gardens across Minnesota. The seeds are easy to collect and can be sown in areas where they will have sufficient sun and well drained soils. Read more here.

June 2014 - Blue Lobelia

With dense flower spikes of dark blue flowers, blue lobelia adds color and diversity to a wide range of moist habitats. The tubular flowers are an excellent pollen and nectar source for butterflies, bumblebees, long-tongued bees and occasionally for hummingbirds. Click here to learn more.

May 2014 - Trillium

Minnesota landowners often take great pride in having large-flowered trilliums in their forested landscapes due to the beauty that they add to the forest floor in early spring. A sensitive plant, the presence of trillium bodes well for the forest’s health. Click here to learn more.

April 2014 - Dicentra cucullaria

After a long, cold winter, the early blooming flowers of Dutchman’s breeches and other spring ephemerals will be a welcome sight. These species provide an important early season source of pollen and nectar for pollinators. Click here to learn more.

March 2014 - Liatris

Widely used in stormwater and shoreline plantings as well as perennial gardens, Liatris are some of Minnesota best known wildflowers. Click here to learn more.

February 2014 - Virginia Mountain Mint

State agency pollinator conservation efforts continue to make progress in Minnesota. With abundant nectar and dense clusters of flowers, Virginia Mountain Mint provides excellent habitat for honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators. Click here to learn more.

January 2014 - Wild Bergamot

Also known as beebalm, monarda, and horsemint, wild bergamot is a showy perennial flower that is widely used for conservation plantings, as well as perennial gardens. Learn about what it can aggressively compete with.

December 2013 - Frost Aster

Many asters can bloom into October and even November when other plants have gone dormant, providing important energy reserves for pollinators. Our featured plant, "Frost Aster" is mainly found in southern Minnesota but it spreads by wind and can aggressively colonize disturbed sites. As a result, it will likely expand its range with climate change and other landscape disturbances. Click here to learn more.

November 2013 - Annual Sunflower

The annual sunflower is an adaptable species with the ability to grow in rather disturbed, nutrient poor soils along roadways, railroad tracks and brownfields. Click here to learn more.

October 2013 - Showy Goldenrod

As our days become shorter and temperatures begin to drop, pollinators remain busy searching for rich sources of pollen to sustain them and/or their offspring through winter. Click here to learn more.

September 2013 - Sneezeweed

As our days become shorter and temperatures begin to drop, pollinators remain busy searching for rich sources of pollen to sustain them and/or their offspring through winter. Click here to learn more.

August 2013 - Marsh Hedge Nettle

The mint family has a large number of native species that add diversity and ecological function to Minnesota Landscapes. Many of them seem to just show up on their own on project sites, welcome additions to help meet project diversity goals. Click here to learn more.

July 2013 - Large-Flowered Penstemon

The Large-flowered Penstemon is a short-lived perennial plant that most commonly grows in the sandy soils of the open prairie. It is one of the showiest of the penstemons, the name "grandiflorus" meaning "grand flowering." Click here to learn more.

June 2013 - Minnesota Milkweeds

Milkweeds play a key role in wetlands, prairies, savannas and forests in Minnesota. The genus (Asclepias) is particularly important as a nectar and larval food source for a wide range of insect species. The best known example is the monarch butterfly whose larvae appear to feed only on milkweeds. Click here to learn more.

May 2013 - American Basswood

Check out our featured plant of the month, the American basswood, to learn its many landscape functions, including habitat and food sources for a variety of bird and animals, shoreline stabilization, urban and stream cooling, carbon sequestration and soil enrichment. Click here to learn more.

April 2013 - Golden Alexanders

Golden Alexanders, plays a key role for pollinators as it is widespread in Minnesota and blooms early in the season. Click here to learn more.

March 2013 - Minnesota Thistles

To many, the mention of "thistles" is a call to action, of thistle control and identification. Click here to learn more.

February 2013 - Narrow leaf coneflower

Are you starting to think about spring planting? The narrow-leaf coneflower, might be the right fit for your garden plans. The narrow-leaf coneflower is a perennial species in the aster family that grows to 25-inches tall and blooms from June to July. Click here to learn more.

May 2012 - Wild Lupine

Wild lupine is a showy perennial plant that grows on dry, sandy soils in prairies and savannas. The species has been a focus of planting efforts. Click here to learn more.

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