POST UPDATE: There has been a great response from the original post! Many people have contacted me with their monarch experiences. The following nine new photos have been submitted! Thanks for sharing your photos everyone!
Back to the original post:
Information on the specific species of native plants that the western population of monarch butterflies uses for nectar is not well known. There are individual observations, photos, and generalized butterfly plant lists, but so far there isn’t a compilation of specific information on the use of monarch nectar plants. The Xerces Society is working on compiling a list of observed/documented monarch nectar plants for fourteen regions throughout the continental U.S. At the moment, Xeces says their most complete lists are for the eastern part of the country, but they have now started reaching out to folks on the west coast to get similar data for the western monarch population.
Due to the current dearth in information, Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds has made an initial attempt at compiling observed/documented monarch nectar plants native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. This effort has been created through personal observation, observations by folks involved with Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, extensive research to find photos, and correspondence with the Xerces Society, naturalists, botanists, native plant gardeners and fellow monarch enthusiasts.
All plant species included in this blog post are native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. Many observations of monarchs using these plants have occurred outside the region, but it is a safe assumption, that if a monarch uses these species in a different part of the Western U.S., that it will also use the same species in the Klamath-Siskiyou as well. For this reason, we are including observations from outside this region as long as the plant is native here.
Please let Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) know if you have observed an adult monarch butterfly using a native plant as a nectar source. Help us expand this list and expand our understanding of the monarch’s habitat. Email me at email@example.com, or Tom Landis from SOMA, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to give us your observations. We are compiling this list to help citizen science inform land managers regarding the conservation and restoration of monarch nectar sources. The list will also be used by backyard gardeners, schools, parks and other community groups to identify the best species to use for monarch butterfly plantings and “waystations.” Together we can help advocate for ecologically appropriate plantings with the most useful and beneficial native plants for monarch butterfly habitat restoration and waystations.
If you have a photo of a monarch nectaring on a native plant, please share, as that is the best way to document use.
Below are photos taken by Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds. These plants are all native to this bioregion, and have all been observed as monarch nectar plants, but unfortunately, we just don’t have a monarch in all the photos…yet! Observations of monarchs using the native plant species below are included in the photo captions.
Milkweeds are shown at the end. It appears to me, that even when a monarch is presented with multiple choices for nectar plants, if there is milkweed growing in the area, it prefers to nectar on the milkweed. Milkweed is not only the exclusive larval host plant for the monarch, it is also a preferred nectar plant for the adult butterfly.