Pollinator Plants of Virginia II
Welcome to another edition of the Plants of Virginia expeditions – Pollinator Plants of Virginia II. In this project, we have assembled a range of species from predominantly animal-pollinated plant families including the Sunflower, Mint, Tomato, Blueberry, Carrot, Coffee and Apple families, all of which provide food for humans, too. Pollinator populations and their overall health have declined in recent decades. While much current research is necessarily focused on the health of non-native, domesticated honey-bees and agricultural productivity, thousands of other invertebrate pollinators such as bumble-bees, small solitary bees, butterflies and moths are in need of help, too. In order for researchers to find these small creatures in the wild to monitor their population sizes or to test them for diseases, they must first locate the food plants that are preferred by each pollinator and wait for their research subjects to appear. Many native pollinator species will consume the pollen or nectar of very few plant species; this very choosy feeding behavior is called oligolecty. It also means that these species can die out if their food plants disappear. By transcribing these herbarium records, you help us develop very fine scale maps of the plants’ locations and flowering times, which can be used by pollinator researchers to find their quarry.
Andrea Weeks, Director, Ted R. Bradley Herbarium, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia