During the summers of 2017, 2018, and 2019, we screened Oregon native plants for their attractiveness to beneficial insects, such as pollinators and parasitoids. This study was inspired by the great work that has come out of Doug Landis’ laboratory at Michigan State University. To our knowledge, no such list of plants (vetted by controlled research trials) exists for Oregon.
We selected 23 native Willamette Valley wildflower species based on drought tolerance, as well as four exotic garden species known to be attractive to pollinators for a comparison. In the spring of 2017,, we planted five meter squared plots of each species, forming five “blocks” of all 27 species for replication. Weekly, we monitor the floral bloom, perform timed pollinator observations, and use an “insect vacuum” (see below!) to sample insects in each plot.
Table 1. Native plants selected for this study.
|Plant Species||Common Name||Life History||Bloom Color|
|Collinsia grandiflora||Giant blue eyed Mary||Annual||Blue|
|Gilia capitata||Globe gilia||Annual||Blue|
|Lupinus polycarpus||Miniature lupine||Annual||Purple/Blue|
|Madia elegans||Common madia||Annual||Yellow|
|Nemophila menziesii||Baby blue eyes||Annual||Blue/White|
|Eschscholzia californica||California Poppy||Annual||Orange|
|Helianthus annuus||Common sunflower||Annual||Yellow|
|Phacelia heterophylla||Varied-leaf phacelia||Annual||White|
|Acmispon (Lotus) parviflorus||Annual||White/Pink|
|Anaphalis margaritacea||Pearly everlasting||Perennial||White|
|Asclepias speciosa||Showy milkweed||Perennial||Pink/White|
|Aquilegia formosa||Western red columbine||Perennial||Red|
|Symphyotrichum subspicatum||Douglas’ aster||Perennial||Purple|
|Camassia leichtlinii||Common camas||Perennial||Purple/White|
|Eriophyllum lanatum||Oregon sunshine||Perennial||Yellow|
|Fragaria vesca||Wild strawberry||Perennial||White|
|Iris tenax||Oregon iris||Perennial||Purple|
|Sedum oregonense||Cream Stonecrop||Perennial||Yellow|
|Sidalcea virgata||Rose Checkermallow||Perennial||Pink|
|Sisyrinchium idahoense||Blue-eyed grass||Perennial||Blue/Purple|
Not only are we interested in finding plants that support ecosystem services; we also want to find plants that gardeners find attractive, and that they would want.
This is where you came in. We asked you to help us rank our study plants, by letting us know which ones you would like to see in your own garden, based on their looks, alone.
From this research we plan on developing empirically based, pollinator-friendly planting lists for the PNW. Stay tuned!
Check out the posts below and other posts by Aaron for research updates:
- Summer 2019 Field Season Recap
- Summer 2018 Field Season Recap
- Summer 2017 Field Season Recap
- Summer 2017 Field Season Recap, #2
For additional updates and photos from this study, follow along at: http://pollinatorblog.weebly.com/