Buchmann, Stephen L., and Nabhan, Gary Paul. The Forgotten Pollinators. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1996.

Hauk, Gunther. Toward Saving the Honeybee. Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association. 2002.

Nabhan, Gary Paul. Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2004.

National Academy of Science. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC.: The National Academies Press, 2007. 

O’Toole, Christopher and Anthony Raw. Bees of the World. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1999. This book is filled with color photographs and line drawing and presents comprehensive information of bee species from around the world.

Roth, Sally. Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Backyard. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2001.

The Xerces Society Guide. Attracting Native Pollinators. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2011. An excellent book.


The ecological process known as pollination is an essential link between all of life on our planet. Without our pollinators, and the plants and natural habitats that feed them, life as we know it on Earth will cease to exist. Today, worldwide, various pollinators and their habitats are experiencing serious losses. More than ever before, gardens and farms using truly organic and sustainable methods of cultivation are essential for feeding our pollinators and ensuring the continued abundance of plants and seeds.

Listed below are specific flowers, trees and medicinal plants that grow well in New England and feed hummingbirds, honey bees and specific butterflies. Most of them are growing on Avena’s farm in West Rockport, Maine, zone 5.


Apple (Malus sp.)

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma, and M. fistulosa)*

Blazing Star (Liatris sp.)

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra sp.)

Blue Cardinal flower (Lobelia siphilitica)*

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia sp.)

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)*

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Columbines (Aquilegia canadense* and hybrids)

Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)*

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Foxgloves (Digitalis sp.)

Fuchsia (Fuschia sp.)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Honeysuckle, Trumpet (Lonicera sempervirens) *

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia coccinea)

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)*

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)*

Lily (Lilium sp.) and Canada lily (Lilium canadense)*

Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinale)

Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Mountain Rosebay, Catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)*

Nasturium (Tropaeolum majus)

Nicotiana, Jasmine scented (Nicotiana alata)

Phlox, Meadow phlox (Phlox maculata) and Garden Phlox (P. paniculata)

Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles japonica)

Sage, Blue (Salvia azurea) and Argentine Sage (S. guaranitica) are late summer and fall bloomers, especially helpful for fall migration.

Sage, Culinary (Salvia officinalis)

Solomon’s Seal, True (Polyganatum sp.) *

Trumpet Vine or Trumpet Creeper (Campis radicans) *



Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Anise-hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Basils (Ocimum sp.)

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma, M. fistulosa)

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Boneset (Eupatorium perforatum)

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Catmint (Nepeta mussinii)

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Poppy (Papaver somnifera)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme, Creeping (Thymus serphyllum)

Wood Betony (Betonica officinalis)



Apple (Malus sp.), food plant for Spring Azure, Viceroy

Artemisia sp. (Mugwort, Southernwood, Sweet Annie, Wormwood),

food plant for American Painted lady, nectar source for Tiger Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Monarch

Aster (Aster sp.), nectar source for Checkered White, Common Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Question Mark, American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Buckeye, common Checkered Skipper, Fiery Skipper

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), nectar source for Great Spangled Fritillary

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia sp.), nectar source for Pipevine Swallowtail, anise Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Comma, American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Monarch

Echinacea (Echinacea sp.) nectar source for Breat Spangled Fritillary

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) nectar source for Common Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, American Painted Lady, Red Admiral

Hollyhock (Alcea sp.), food plant for Painted Lady, Common Checkered Skipper

Ironweed (Vernonia sp.), food plant for American Painted Lady,

nectar source for Tiger Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Monarch, Fiery Skipper

Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) food plant for Monarch,

nectar source for Pipevine Swallowtail, Eastern Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Checkered White, Cabbage White, Common Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Spring Azure, Great Spangled Fritillary, Question Mark, American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Monarch, Fiery Skipper

Mint (Mentha sp.) nectar source for Western Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Caabbage White, Gray Hairstreak, American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Monarch

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) food plant for Eastern Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail

Passion Flower (Passiflora sp.), food plant and nectar source for Gulf Fritillary

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota), food plant for Eastern Black Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), nectar source for Cabbage White, Great Spangled Fritillary, American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Silver-spotted Skipper, Common Checkered Skipper

Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris), nectar source for Cabbage White, American Painted Lady, Silver-spotted Skipper

Verbena (Verbena sp.), nectar source for Great Spangled Fritillary

Violet (Viola sp.), food plant for Great Spangled Fritillary,

nectar source for Spring Azure

Willow (Salix sp.) food plant for Tiger Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail 


Useful Links

Canadian Bidiversity Institute. Creating habitat in school grounds. www.schoolgrounds.ca

Bill Hilton, Jr., Executive Director of the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, leads educational trips to Costa Rica, Belize, and Nicaragua, focused on the ruby-throated hummingbird. To learn more about Bill’s work with hummingbirds and other educational outreach initiatives visit   www.hiltonpond.org

Journey North. Information on migrating wildlife, including monarch butterflies, and ways to participate in the seasonal tracking program. www.learner.org/north

Monarch Watch. An educational outreach program that promotes the conservation of monarch butterflies and education activities about the fall migration. www.monarchwatch.org

NatureServe. An online encyclopedia of information on more than 70,000 plants, animals, and ecosystems in the United States and Canada, including documentation on the status of rare and endangered species.

Pesticide Action Network North America. Works to replace pesticide use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. www.panna.org

Pollinator Partnership. Founder of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. Made up of conservation groups, universities, and government agencies from Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  www.pollinator.org.

Ruby-throated hummingbird: www.rubythroat.org

The Xerces Society, dedicated to North America’s native pollinators, is a worthy nonprofit conservation organization to support. Founded in 1971, the society protects insects and other invertebrates through advocacy, education, policy development and research projects aimed at protecting and managing critical habitat. www.xerces.org