As appealing to us as they are to pollinators, melliferous plant species are where pollinator insects reign as kings. These beautiful flowers are gorged with pollen and nectar offered up for pollinators to feed on, a trade-off that 80% of all flower-bearing species sign up for in order to reproduce.
Here is a list of 11 highly attractive melliferous shrubs and fruit trees that will appeal to pollinators.
Ornamental melliferous species
Melliferous plants are plant species that produce significant amounts of nectar and pollen which makes them appealing to pollinators. More often than not, these flowers are large or fragrant, and are thus excellent choices to decorate our gardens. They’ll do great in a flower bed, together with perennials and grasses, but are also remarkable as standalones, part of a hedge, on a balcony or in an orchard for fruit trees. Let it be said – you’ll easily find a spot for them and you’ll enjoy watching the avid bees lurch around getting drunk on pollen and nectar!
Goat willow (a type of pussy willow):
- Height: 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters)
- Foliage: narrow, lance-shaped deciduous pale green leaves that have a grayish underside.
- Blooming: from February to April, silvery catkin inflorescence covered with fuzz opens to reveal tiny yellow flowers.
- Location: as a standalone or at the back of a shrub bed.
- Learn more about the willow tree
Black locust tree or false acacia:
- Height: 45 feet (15 m).
- Foliage: deciduous leaves, each having about fifteen individual oval leaflets that are a tender green color.
- Flowering: Great flowering clusters of fragrant white flowers, the nectar of which attracts bees and other pollinators.
- Location: as a standalone, paired with other small trees, in large garden boxes on a terrace or balcony.
- Learn more about black locust
Japanese pagoda tree:
- Height: 60 to 75 feet (20-25 m).
- Foliage: similar to that of the false acacia described above, except that leaflets of the Sophora tree are pointed. In Fall, leaves shift from green to yellow.
- Blooming: creamy white clusters of flowers about a foot long (30 cm), extremely melliferous, in July-August.
- Location: standalone, in a shrub bed.
- Learn more about the Japanese pagoda tree
- Height: 45 to 120 feet (15 to 40m) depending on the variety.
- Foliage: deciduous, roundish leaves with a pointed tip, lightly serrated around the edges. Green in Spring, turn to yellow in Autumn.
- Blooming: small yellow or white cymes, very fragrant, appearing in June-July, a favored source of nectar for pollinating insects. Watch out! One species, silver lime (“silver linden” is another name), has toxic nectar: don’t choose this one!
- Location: standalone, in a row or alignment.
- Learn more about lime tree (or basswood)
Prunus cerasifera (ornamental cherry tree):
- Height: 6 to 30 feet (2 to 10 meters)
- Foliage: deciduous, oval and finely serrated leaves that are a shiny green.
- Blooming: pink or white flowers at the beginning of Spring that offer both nectar and pollen as soon as the weather improves.
- Location: standalone, in an orchard or shrub bed.
- Learn more about prunus, the ornamental cherry tree
Melliferous fruit trees
- Height: 18 to 24 feet (6 to 8 meters)
- Foliage: deciduous leaves that are bright green, elongated with a pointy tip, placed on alternate sides of the branch.
- Blooming: early flowers that appear in February-March in abundant numbers, white or pink. Also exists as ornamental almond tree, with little fruiting.
- Location: as a standalone, in an orchard, in large containers on a terrace or balcony.
- Learn more about the almond tree
- Height: 6 to 30 feet (2 to 5 meters)
- Foliage: deciduous, serrated, bland green leaves with clearly marked veins.
- Blooming: male flowers form catkins that have incredible amounts of pollen, female flowers form small clusters and have bright red stamens. Blooming from January to March
- Location: standalone, hedge, orchard.
- Learn more about the hazelnut tree
- Height: 2 to 6½ feet (0.60 m to 2 m)
- Foliage: composite leaf with 5 to 7 tooth-edged leaves, with visible veining. Light green on the topside, nearly white on the underside.
- Blooming: small clusters of white flowers in April-May and again in July-August, very appealing for pollinators.
- Location: mixed hedge, orchard, back of a flower bed, standalone.
- Learn more about raspberry bushes
- Height: 2 to 15 feet (0.60 m to 5 m)
- Foliage: alternate leaves, spiky and thick, similar to those of holly. Also evergreen.
- Flowering: bright yellow flower clusters that welcome pollinators from October to May. Fragrance is similar to that of the lily-of-the-nile.
- Location: hedge, backdrop in a flower bed, standalone, in large garden boxes on a terrace or balcony.
- Learn more about the mahonia shrub
- Height: 3 to 15 feet (1 to 5 meters)
- Foliage: evergreen oblong deep green leaves, shiny-leathery on the topside.
- Blooming: small, white but bland blooming from November to April. A very early source of food for pollinator insects.
- Location: hedge, standalone, backdrop in flower beds, in garden boxes on a terrace or balcony.
- Learn more about laurestine
- Height: 6 to 30 feet (2 to 10 meters)
- Foliage: evergreen, serrated, deep green leaves, a bit thick and shiny.
- Blooming: blooms repeatedly even as fruits are forming and maturing. Flowers look a lot like those of heather. They’re either pink or white and honeybees find them very inviting.
- Location: hedge, as a standalone, in a shrub bed, in large containers on a terrace or balcony.
- Learn more about the strawberry tree