Creating Pollinator Friendly Landscapes in Your Backyard

Although my yard isn't the most manicured it attracts plenty of pollinators because I have large areas dedicated to natural landscapes. I also don't use pesticides which can affect the groundwater and cause potential harm to our health. 

Pollinators are dying because of pesticides and this is why I'm encouraged to create a pollinator-friendly yard. Many pesticides are toxic to bees and other beneficial organisms. The long-term effects of exposing yourself, your family, pets, and wildlife to toxic chemicals are the risk of disrupting the natural ecosystem and your health. 

I find joy in the color and life that these beautiful flowers and weeds bring to my yard. Throughout the years I've taken images of plants to later research and learn more about them. We are all learning as we go and below are a few things I learned while creating a pollinator-friendly landscape in my backyard.

New River Bougainvillea

These purple flowers have a long bloom season and rapidly grow to provide shade. A great plant for hiding chain-link fences because they will grow in and out of the gaps while providing lots of beautiful colors. Did you know that this plant has been used as a fertility control among tribal people in many countries? 

Studies showed a decrease in both sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen. 

Turnera ulmifolia (yellow butter cups, yellow alder, sage rose and cuban buttercup)

This flower popped up in some shrub in my backyard and reached about 2 1/2 feet in height. It has dark green leaves and the flowers are bright yellow. It is often found as a weed growing on roadsides and attracts butterflies. This flower has also been tested for antimicrobial activity and a study found that it increased the antibiotic activity against MRSA.

Spiderwort is native to Florida and blooms in spring with three petals that come in either white, pink, blue, or violet. This flower is not only attractive, but it is also edible. Stems and leaves can be eaten raw and leaves can also be cooked. The leaves juice can be used to soothe insect bites in the same way that aloe does. The most interesting part about this flower is that it can detect radiation. A 1979 study found that low-level radiation exposure will turn the bluish filament hairs on the stamen pink.

Emilia Fosbergii (Florida tassel flower, flora's paintbrush, cupid's shaving brush and Florida tassel flower)

This tassel flower is a common lawn weed that blooms in tropical parts of the world. They can reach 2-3 feet tall and produce many flowers. When ripe they produce many dandelion type seeds and if you allow them to go to seed you will get many more each season. These draw pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

In a 2019 study analysis revealed that E. fosbergii showed the highest antioxidant capacity and exhibited promising bioactive compounds that were capable of neutralizing free radicals.

White Oldfield Aster (frost aster, symphyotrichum pilosum and hairy white oldfield aster)

These beautiful wildflowers form in open fields and blooming occurs in late fall. Hundreds of flowers open at one time and is a magnet for pollinating insects.

Sword Fern (nephrolepis, tuberous sword fern and nephrolepis cordifolia). Nephrolepis (nef-roh-LEF-iss) is Greek and means kidney shaped scales, referring to the shape of the spoor packets on the back of the fern's leaf

Sword Fern is the only fern of about 100 to make the state's invasive list. It almost looks exactly like a Florida native fern. 

A 2008 journal tested the Nephrolepis Cordifolia for nutrition content and reported that children in Nepal eat the tubers raw. You can gently pull the fern-root out and look for the tuber. 

A 2019 research article says that Nephrolepis exaltation can be used as a herbal mask and was previously studies by NASA because it can absorb formaldehyde, xylene, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide from the air. 

The young japonica (oriental false hawksbeard) is a tasty plant that has garnered a lot of interest from medical researchers because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is considered a non-native herb and to some as an invasive plant.

A 2004 study showed that young japonica inhibited cell growth in all cancer cell lines to various extent. It also exhibited significant anti-RSV showing that the antiviral ingredient was likely to contain phenolic compounds including tannins by chemical tests. 

It may look pretty but Latana plants are invasive in warm climates. They are classified as shrubs and the fruit is a delicacy for many birds. Known for their rounded clusters of small, brightly-colored flowers (often colors are mixed within the same cluster, creating a bio-colored effect) their foliage qualifies them as fragrant plants.

Besides being invasive, katana plants are toxic and present a danger to children and pets. The leaves can cause a rash and eating the unripe berries can be fatal.

The plant thrives disturbed areas, nutrient-poor soil, is toxic to herbivores, produces chemicals to deter other plants from growing too close to it, entices birds to spread its seed, and will often re-grow despite attempts at removal.

These creamy white flowers have a strong and sweet scent that is commonly used in essential oils. The blossoms on Gardenias have a wax-like appearance and yellow tint.

Some chemicals in gardenia might reduce insulin resistance and help prevent glucose intolerance. Gardenia extract might reduce swelling, lower blood fats and cholesterol, protect the liver, and help treat viral infections. 

The Beauty Berry (Callicarpa Americana) is a Florida native plant with purple fruits that attract birds and squirrels. It's a small shrub with pale lavender flowers that mature into clusters of shiny purple fruits by September. 

These berries are edible but not the best-tasting. However, you can make good jelly with them by boiling and straining them, and adding sugar. 

There are chemicals in the leaves that scientists are trying to replicate for mosquito replant that may be as effective as DEET, according to researcher with the USDA. 

The Wand Goldenrod (Solidago Stricta) produces small clusters of bright yellow flowers that attract butterflies and native bees. 

Goldenrods are wrongly accused of causing hay fever. They bloom at the same time as the real culprits such as ragweed.

A 2019 study demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties while a 2009 study on plant extracts showed antibacterial activity. There are multiple older studies suggesting other medicinal benefits of goldenrod too. 

Gaillardia is a Florida native blanket flower with bright colorful petals that bloom throughout the summer and into the fall. These flowers do good in extreme heat, sun, sandy soils, and salt. 

The seed is edible and can be grounded into a powder than kneaded into seed butter. This wildflower has also been used as a tea for gastroenteritis and applied to skin disorders.

Side Acuta also is known as common fireweed, fan petals southern sida, side ulmifolia and is in the mallow family, Malvaceae  

Sida Acuta is called wireweed because if you ever tried to pull one out of the ground it's strong. 

This weed has powerful medicinal uses according to a research article done in 2011 and a study in 2016 investigated the antimicrobial activity of alkaloids of S. acute. 

Bird of Paradise also known as strelitzia reginae or crane flower

The Bird of Paradise flower resembles brightly colored birds in flight. This plant produces multiple large leaves sometimes 3ft or more in length. These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept from pets and children. 

Erigeron Vernus is a flowering plant in the daisy family. The outer white ray petals are thin and delicate and surround by a central yellow disc. This flower attracts the attention of small pollinators and is easily grown from seed in late spring. 

Honey production would hurt without Bidens Alba (Spanish Needles) weeds and is the second most common nectar producer in Florida. It's also an edible flower often used in salads. 

The beautiful White Orchid Tree has orchid blooms that appear in abundance in spring. This tree fits in with mixed shrubbery with full sun. 

The Hibiscus is a flowering plant that's native to tropical regions and attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. However, this flower does attract harmful insects and left unintended can cause infestations. One way we were able to combat aphids is with ladybugs. 

The medicinal uses described is based on information found in literature. The author may not have first hand experience with the medicinal uses they describe, and it's strongly recommended you check references and perform your own research before using this plant for the purposes listed above. Do your research and consult your doctor before using any of the remedies listed on this website.

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