Native shrubs for Alger County

If you read my article in June, I focused a bit on a few invasive species found on my property, some of which you may also have on your property. This month, I’d like to highlight a few native species of shrubs that can be used in place of invasive species. Autumn olive, some honeysuckle species, Japanese barberry, and multiflora rose are listed by the State of Michigan ( as invasive species.

Planting native shrub species in your landscape or on your property provides quality nectar, food, and nesting sources to wildlife including mammals, birds, pollinators and bees. Doug Tallamy, Entomology and Wildlife Professor at University of Delaware, author, speaker, and co-founder of the Home Grown National Park, encourages people to plant native plants in an effort to increase wildlife, especially pollinator and bird species. Dr. Tallamy developed the concept of “Keystone Species” to describe the native plants that support the greatest number of caterpillars (lepidoptera) which are eaten by baby birds. As you can see there is a direct relationship between native shrubs (plants), caterpillars (pollinators), and birds (and wildlife).

  • Beaked Hazelnut (corylus cornuta) – Provides nesting cover and nuts eaten by numerous animals
  • Grey or Stemmed Dogwood (cornus racemose) – Supports 100+ caterpillar species, fruit for animals
  • Black Hawthorne (crataegus douglasii) – Flower nectar for various bee species, fruit eaten by animals and birds

These are a few shrubs we can plant in most soil types in Alger County, in place of some of the invasive species that are seen in the landscape. If you are interested in increasing wildlife, bee, and pollinator habitat, shrubs offer a great food and early nectar source. Keep in mind, if you plant shrubs for wildlife, they will use them. The tender, young shoots of shrubs are an irresistible treat for many wildlife species, especially deer. You may need to protect them with a cage, fencing, or other tree protector in order for them to get established. And lastly, consider that many moth and butterfly larvae (caterpillars) are often quite unsightly. Unless you can positively identify a caterpillar as a problem species such as tent worms or spongy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth), it’s best to let the caterpillars live and do their thing; the birds and other wildlife will appreciate it and so will we when they transform into a beautiful butterfly or moth.

To learn more about native trees, shrubs, and pollinators or to set up a site visit, contact me at or call direct 906-251-3064.