Whether your garden is large or small, you can increase the numbers of pollinators in your area by adding plants that provide essential habitat for bees, birds, butterflies, moths, beetles and other critters that transport pollen. To determine which plants will work best for you, visit the Pollinator Partnership and use your five-digit zip code to access a planting guide specific to your region of the United States. Each guide provides twenty-four pages of native planting information.
Favorite or New Plant
Though we had another hot and dry summer, the native but exotic-looking maypop (Passiflora incarnata) flourished along roadsides and in gardens. Sometimes called passion flower, this indigenous vine blooms with intricate 2 to 3-inch lavender flowers comprised of sepals and petals topped with a fringe of crimped filaments (called the corona) and a tri-forked stigma surrounded by five stamens. The name passion flower is derived from the crucifixion story, with the ten petal-like parts representing the disciples (excluding Peter and Judas), the five stamens the wounds Jesus received, the three segments of stigma the nails, and the fringe the crown of thorns.
The more common name, maypop, comes from the sound made by the lemon-sized fruits when crushed. Though said to have been a favorite snack of colonial settlers and Native Americans, the fruits are a seedy and inferior substitute for those of the related species, Passiflora edulis, that gives Hawaiian Punch its distinctive taste. The fruits are a worthy resource for many critters, however, and the foliage is a valuable larval food for both the Zebra Longwing and the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.