Native Butterfly and Pollinator plant list

western prairie

This is a list of plants native to the upper midwest that attract butterflies and pollinators.   They would be a good plants to consider planting in a yard or garden in order to make it more attractive to pollinators.

These are all common prairie plants, and should be available from any midwestern native plant nursery.   The list is based on lists from the Xerces Society, Prairie Moon Nursery, and on my own experience.

Partridge Pea is an annual; all the others are perennials,  so they’ll take a few years to bloom.  If you want flowers the first year, plant plants instead of, or in addition to, seeds.

Agastache scrophulariaefolia – Purple Giant Hyssop
Allium stellatumPrairie Onion
Amorpha canescens – Lead Plant
Antennaria neglecta or Antennaria plantaginifolia – Pussytoes
Aquilegia canadensis– Wild Columbine
Asclepias exaltata – Poke Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa– Butterfly Weed
Baptisia alba – White Wild Indigo
Chaemecrista fasciculata – Partridge Pea
Coreopsis palmata– Prairie Coreopsis
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Eupatorium perfoliatumCommon Boneset
Echinacea pallidaPale Purple Coneflower
Eutrochium purpureumPurple Joe-Pye Weed
Heliopsis helianthoides– Oxeye
Lespedeza capitata – Round-headed Bush Clover
Liatris asperaRough Blazing Star
Liatris ligulistylis – Meadow Blazing Star
Liatris pycnostachyaTall Blazing Star
Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower
Lobelia siphilitica– Great Blue Lobelia
Lupinus perennis – Wild Lupine
Monarda fistulosa – Bergamot
Penstemon grandiflorus – Large Beardtongue
Pycnanthemum virginianum
Mountain Mint
Ratibida pinnata
Yellow Coneflower
Rudbeckia hirta– Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia triloba – Brown-eyed Susan
Solidago flexicaulis – Zig-zag Goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis – Gray Goldenrod
Solidago rigidaStiff Goldenrod
Solidago speciosa– Showy Goldenrod
Symphyotrichum laeveSmooth Blue Aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliaeNew England Aster
Symphyotrichum oolentangienseSky Blue Aster
Tradescantia ohiensis– Spiderwort
Verbena stricta – Hoary Vervain
Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root
Viola – Violets
Zizia aurea – Golden Alexander 

Grasses
Schizachyrium scoparium – Little bluestem
Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie dropseed

Click Here to see a video of Doug Tallamy (Professor of Ecology at the University of Delaware) talk about why planting plants native to the area you live in is so important.

Butterfly (and moth) Host Plants
American Lady – Pussytoes
Monarch Butterfly – Milkweeds (Asclepias sp.)
Baltimore Checkerspot – Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Plantain (Plantago sp.)
Great Spangled Fritillary – Violets
Painted Lady – Thistle
Question Mark – Nettle, Elm
Eastern Comma – Nettle, Elm
Silvery Checkerspot – Sunflowers
Black Swallowtail – Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Parsley, Dill
Hackberry and Tawny Emperor – Hackberry
Eastern-tailed Blue – Round-headed Bushclover,
Viceroy – Willow, Poplar
Red-spotted Purple – Cherry, Willow, Poplar, Birch
Luna Moth – Black Walnut
Cecropia Moth – Ash, Lilac
Polypheumus Moth – Oak

Here’s a short list of more aggressive natives that are also great for butterflies and pollinators.  They should be planted in areas where they won’t cause trouble if they spread aggressively.

Anemone canadensis – Canada Anemone
Asarum canadense – Wild Ginger
Asclepias syriaca – Common Milkweed
Cirsium discolor – Field Thistle
Cirsium altissimum – Tall Thistle
Cirsium muticum – Swamp Thistle

Native Plant Nurseries in Minnesota and Wisconsin
Prairie Moon Nursery – Winona, MN
Prairie Restorations – Princeton, MN (with other retail locations)
Kinnickinnic Natives – River Falls, WI
Prairie Nursery – Westfield, WI
Bluestem Farm – Baraboo, WI
Outback Nursery – Hastings, MN