Sassafras for Polinators

Nov 9, 2017

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A plant usually seen as a large shrub that fits into a permanent native pollinator area is sassafras.   It can become a large tree, but is most often seen as on edges of fields and roadsides in a smaller size. Sassafras has male and female flowers on separate plants, female flowers yield carbohydrate rich nectar; pollen from male flowers is high in protein and fat. A large array of flies visit the flowers, we sometimes forget that flies also are important pollinators, but small bees feed on sassafras, too.  Butterflies and moths also serve as pollen transporters, and sassafras is a larval food source for two swallowtail butterflies species and several moths. While you’re walking your bee pasture, you can marvel at the three different shapes of leaves, called polymorphism that sassafras exhibits, and enjoy their beautiful fall color.