Why do native plants matter?

Native plants provide food and shelter for 10-15 times more species of birds, butterflies and other local wildlife than non-native plants – yet more than half of the plants in our yards and neighborhoods are non-native species and cultivars (often times it is greater than 90%).

Learn more by listening to Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of "Bringing Nature Home"...

·         Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators. One out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insects.

·         If we think of insects as “bird food” we realize how important they are to the food chain. A clutch of chickadees, for example, will be fed about 6000 caterpillars before they fledge.

·         Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators. Research has shown that even small native flower gardens can provide important food and shelter for birds and pollinators. 

This is not to say that non-native plants have no habitat value or place in the local landscape. However; homeowners, landscapers, and local public official can benefit birds, pollinators and other wildlife by selecting native plants when making their landscaping decisions.

What plants are considered native in the Bemidji area?

Click on the image to the left for a list of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers benefiting birds and pollinators created for our local area. It includes pictures and links to information about each species available from: Minnesota Wildflowers, or MN DNR Native Plant Encyclopedia. Look through this list to help you decide what would work in your garden planter or landscape and then make a trip to your local nursery or garden center (see below for suggestions)



Additional resources on native plants in our area:


Audubon Native Plants Database Enter your zip code to use Audubon’s native plants database and view a list of the best plants for birds in your area, as well as local resources and links to more information. By entering your email address, you'll receive an emailed list of the native plants you've selected, get additional tips on creating your bird-friendly habitat.


MNTaxa: The State of Minnesota Vascular Plant Checklist : MNTaxa is the MNDNR's list of the vascular plant species that have been documented in Minnesota. For each taxon listed, MNTaxa provides full scientific name, including family, genus, species, and variety or subspecies (when applicable). Other attributes available include: whether the species is introduced to Minnesota; current status according to Minnesota's Endangered Species Statute and associated Rules; physiognomy; and the counties and subcounties.


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The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, crop information, automated tools, onward Web links, and references. The PLANTS Database in maintained by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


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The Biota of North America Program, North American Vascular Flora (Taxonomic Data Center). The TDC Query Page is an online application that provides access to BONAP’s floristic data. It features a fully synonymized listing of the plants of North American, incorporating the most current nomenclature and taxonomy in conjunction with scores of unique search and sort capabilities, thus enabling users to query on attributes of taxonomy, morphology and phytogeography to retrieve data through a random access process.



Help for creating bird and pollinator friendly landscapes


Where do I start? How do I plan, prepare, select plants, and maintain native plants in my garden, planter or landscape? Here are a number of resources that provide a lot of good advice…


Habitat Network : The heart of Habitat Network is a mapping tool that you use to draw the boundaries of your property, then fill in buildings and various trees and vegetation. The mapping tool can be used to plan and design your landscape to enhance the habitat for birds and other wildlife. Habitat Network is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to bring people together to explore the effects of new conservation practices in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. It includes extensive resources about planning your gardens, birds, pollinators, native plants and more


Living Landscapes in Minnesota : A guide to native plantscaping. USDA NRCS
The information in this publication will help you select and grow native plants that are naturally adapted and will thrive for years under extreme environmental conditions of Minnesota. This booklet provides an overview of native landscaping principles and practices. It integrates the principles of reduced water, energy, and chemical usage; wildlife habitat enhancement; and invasive weed management.


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Bee and Pollinator books by Heather Holm
A comprehensive guide illustrating the bees that occur in north-central and eastern United States and southern Canada. In-depth profiles of 27 bee genera covering the life cycles, habitats, diet, foraging behaviors, crops pollinated, nesting lifestyles, seasonality, and preferred native forage plants. Heather’s website also includes lists of pollinator plants for different soil types and amounts of sun .


Selecting Plants for Pollinators: A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers, and Gardeners in the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province :
This regional guide is just one in a series of plant selection tools designed to provide information on how individuals can influence pollinator populations through choices they make when they farm a plot of ground, manage large tracts of public land, or plant a garden


Recommended native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators in the Great Lakes Region such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces, and in farm field borders. The Xerces Society


Recommended native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators in the Midwest Region such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces, and in farm field borders. The Xerces Society


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Douglas Tallamy’s seminal book covers everything you need to know about the “why” and “how” of going native in your garden. Bursting with color photographs of “bird food” (i.e., insects) and helpful how-to’s, this book will make proponents of seed feeders rethink their means of provisioning birds. This book is full of real science (including specific regional guides to native plants and a table of butterfly/moth host plants), making even the most casual gardener feel like an ecologist


Where can I purchase native plants?


Start by asking our local nurseries or garden centers if they have these plants available. Several are participating in our Birds, Bees, Butterflies & Bemidji campaign to encourage Bemidji residents and businesses to add native plants to their landscapes and garden.


Hills Country Greenhouse , Nature’s Edge Garden Center , Deer Haven Greenhouse, Ace on the Lake , Cenex Country Store Greenhouse ,


If you don’t find what you are looking for at one of these garden centers, click on the map below and try one of these nurseries that specialize in native plants and seeds: