Hybridization of plants to suit the whims of gardeners has resulted in the proliferation of plants that lack both the nectar and pollen necessary for bees and butterflies. Add to this the catastrophic impact of genetically modified crops, herbicides, and pesticides, and we are today faced with a global food crisis that, if not corrected, will not only result in widespread famine but also the loss of fruit, vegetable, and nuts for consumption by humans and others, leaving us to forage on grains.
What we can do to reverse recent trends is to plant flowers that are high in the nutrients needed by our pollinators and to plan this activity so that there is steady flowering and therefore constant availability of flowers from very early in the season until late into fall and even winter. To the extent possible, it is better to use heirloom varieties or native species because these would be favored by our hard working bees and gorgeous butterflies.
Be sure to put water near the plants so the pollinators have enough to drink and make sure the water is not too deep or treacherous so that the butterflies have safe places to land while drinking. Do not water the flowers themselves, but supply the water the plants need at the base of the plant, near the soil.
Bearsfoot is a Native American remedy, used sometimes as a hair tonic or ointment for swollen glands, including complications of malaria. The root can also be taken internally for mastitis and other non-malignant growths. The plants flower in September and are pollinated by insects. It is a good "seva" plant because butterflies love it and birds eat the seeds. Bearsfoot is a perennial and though usually smaller can grow to 8-9 feet in height.
Bloodflower is a milkweed that does especially well in the south, but it's showy enough to tempt people in other regions to grow them. They are slow starters but strong once established. The seeds can be sown directly into cold soil.
Butterfly Seed Collection, 8 packets
The Butterfly Seed Collection contains one packet of each of the following:
This edible persimmon is native to the Eastern U.S. and hardy to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Like most persimmons, the fruit is astringent until ripe and marvelous once ripe. It has beautiful bell-shaped flowers that are beloved by pollinators, especially honey bees. The trees can grow 50 feet tall but since they do not branch out, they can be planted 20 feet apart. The seeds should be planted one inch deep in gallon pots shortly after receiving them.
Original seeds were collected in the Appalachias. It"s a favorite for butterflies but I noticed hummingbirds on mine last year. It is the only food consumed by Monarch larvae.
She-chuang-zi, organic, 100 seedsCnidium monnieri
This plant is common in China and attracts lots of pollinators. It is a perennial. Plant the seed in spring in moist soil where there is full sun or partial shade. Barely tap the seeds into the ground. It flowers from May to July and the seeds ripen in July and August. The seeds have been used medicinally for thousands of years, both internally and externally, mainly for itchiness in the genitalia (of both men and women.) It can be used as a wash or lotion. It is a parasiticide and can be used in the treatment of trichonomas infections. It enhances libido by increasing blood flow to the sexual organs, and it is used to treat osteoporosis.
Sheep"s sorrel is the host for small copper butterly and it is also eaten by grazing animals. It can be found in quite bad soil but it prefers the same habitat as blueberries. Its leaves are high in beta carotene and have a number of uses including Essiac tea. It is a parasiticide, for intestinal parasites.