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February 15, 2024

Fantastic Native Flora in San Diego to Support Pollinator Populations

Author: Zoë Bross
If you  find yourself in San Diego, you might stroll the streets appreciating the plants that populate its Mediterranean climate. You may even notice the insects buzzing around the flowers; bees and other pollinators collecting pollen and moving along to their next location. Pollination  involves transferring pollen from an anther of one flower to the stigma of another, and is essential for plant reproduction. Pollinators are the insects and animals that take this role; they are a keystone species, meaning that they are essential to the healthy functioning of our ecosystems.
Unfortunately,  pollinator populations are on the decline. Habitat loss is a major contributor, especially when considered alongside pesticide use, disease, and threat from non-native species—among other reasons. Since native pollinators are adapted to native plants, it is essential that humans support these pollinators by planting native plants. Great Ecology has worked on numerous  projects that support pollinator habitat, seen in Florham Park, First Creek, and Corktown Commons
Which native plants in San Diego are best for pollinators? The narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is best planted in dry climates, and is a necessary habitat for monarch butterflies. Note—not all milkweed is the same! If you want to support monarch butterflies, plant the milkweed native to where you live.
California goldenrod (Solidago velutina spp. californica) grows in grassy areas and produces bright yellow flowers that attract bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and birds. A shrub native to California, and a keystone species, black sage (Salvia mellifera),  draws in bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but prevents larger pollinators from pollinating it. The eye-catching red bush monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus var. punieceus) with its bright red trumpet-shaped flowers are pollinated mainly by hummingbirds and bees.
These are just a few plants native to southern California, which supply pollination stations for a wide range of pollinators that need native plant biodiversity for their survival. For more information on pollinators, check out the Xerces Society for some great resources. Explore some of our projects that have involved intentional expansion of native plant palettes here!