The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is located in the Driftless Area, a 24,000 square mile area in southwest Wisconsin, northwest Illinois, northeast Iowa, and southwest Illinois that is untouched by glaciers.

Native Plant Landscape Beds

Our unique ecosystem is unlike any other in the world. To help raise awareness of our unique landscape, you will find landscape beds across campus planted in native plants that are pollinator-friendly. There are plant identification signs in several of these beds. You can learn more about the specific plants in our Plant Index below.

Plants were selected for several characteristics: drought-tolerant, long-lived, varied bloom times and color, and ease of care. All of the plants provide much needed food sources for our native pollinators. Many plants provide food needed by specific pollinators, such as Monarch butterflies who need milkweed to survive.

These gardens are a cross-campus collaboration. The Biology Department started the plants from seed, the Green Fund helped fund the sign posts, and campus grounds crews help deliver mulch and provide other maintenance.

Campus Native Plant Index

To both beautify our campus and be good stewards of our natural resources, UW-Platteville integrates many hardy native perennials (plants that return each year) into our landscaping.

These plants are not only attractive to look at, but they offer a host of additional benefits, including low maintenance, a source of food for a variety of insects, birds, and other wildlife, and, through their extra deep root structure, they help increase water absorption into our local water table. This reduces the risk of flooding during storm events.

The following native plants can be found across campus in landscaping beds. Plant descriptions and images are borrowed with permission from Prairie Moon Nursery.

  • golden alexanders

    Common Name: Golden Alexanders
    Latin Name: Zizia aurea
    Bloom Time: April-June
    Description: Zizia aurea is one of those natives that every garden should have. It is fairly easy to grow and, although short-lived, will self-seed and persist in many sun/soil situations. Zizia is an important plant to a number of short-tongued insects that are able to easily reach the nectar in the small yellow flowers. Black Swallowtail caterpillars will feed on its leaves. Golden Alexanders have a long bloom time, giving the garden/prairie some well-deserved early color for several weeks in late spring to early summer when many other plants have not yet flowered.  Also called Golden Zizia, Golden Alexanders will tolerate a lot of shade but prefer full sun or light shade.  Zizia is a member of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family with yellow umbel flowers. There are many species with similar blossoms, Zizia aurea can be distinguished from these by the heart-shaped leaves at the base of the plant. Heart-leaf Golden Alexanders can endure drier soils also. Zizia aurea should not be confused with the similar-looking Pastinaca sativa (Wild Parsnip), a highly invasive Eurasian biennial commonly found on roadsides and other disturbed sites.  Wild Parsnip is taller than zizia aurea, blooms later and can cause painful skin burns.

  • Showy Wild Garlic

    Common Name: Showy Wild Garlic
    Latin Name: Allium canadense var. lavendulare
    Bloom Time: April-June
    Description: Unlike other Wild Garlic, Showy Wild Garlic boasts a large cluster of white to pink flowers in late spring. While its flowers attract bees and butterflies, the sharp taste of its foliage makes it deer resistant. Showy Wild Garlic foliage and bulbs are edible, but they taste more like an onion than like commonly sold garlic cultivars. It is drought tolerant and prefers well-drained soils in full sun. Plants spread by bulb offshoots and seed.

  • Spider Milkweed

    Common Name: Spider Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepsias viridis
    Bloom Time: May, June
    Description: Spider Milkweed shares with other Asclepias species its milky, irritating sap and strong attractiveness to Monarch butterflies and a host of other insects. Very tolerant of dry conditions, it is also called Green Antelopehorn. Spider Milkweed features rose-white flowers surrounded by green that form in showy umbellated clusters, often one per plant.  Its beauty and tendency to spread slightly make it a good garden choice.

  • Blue False Indigo

    Common Name: Blue False Indigo
    Latin Name: Baptisia australis
    Bloom Time: May, June, July
    Description: Like most of its genus, Baptisia australis spends its first few years developing mostly below ground. The branching foliage and blossoms become showier and more developed with each subsequent growing season. Probably the most familiar and wide-ranging of Baptisias, Blue Wild Indigo can provide an early deep blue flare in spring in native plantings where its bushy structure complements summer bloomers. Their 4' height and branching habit make wide spacing advisable in-home landscaping.  If you have dry soils and want a smaller Blue Indigo, try Baptisia minor (Dwarf Blue Indigo). Another common name in use is Blue False Indigo. This is a legume species (member of the pea family).

  • Wild Lupine

    Common Name: Wild Lupine
    Latin Name: Lupinus perennis
    Bloom Time: May, June, July
    Description: Wild Lupine blooms profusely in spikes that make it a popular choice for gardens or restorations with dry to sandy soils. This legume is essential to the life cycle of the Karner Blue butterfly, a federally-endangered species native to the Great Lakes region. Native Lupine is a spring ephemeral; it will grow and bloom in the spring and then go dormant by mid-summer so plan for summer and fall-blooming plants nearby in a garden to fill in where the Lupine is asleep. This is a legume species (member of the pea family).

  • Early Figwort

    Common Name: Early Figwort
    Latin Name: Scrophularia lanceolata
    Bloom Time: May, June, July
    Description: Figworts are nectar-rich plants.  Perhaps they are not known for their beauty but are abundant in nectar!  One of the best species for attracting butterflies, bees, other insects and birds - especially the Ruby-throated Hummingbird!  A close inspection of the flowers is needed to tell Early Figwort from Late Figwort, though, as their common names suggest, their flowering times rarely overlap. Early Figwort blooms from May until July whereas Late Figwort blooms from July until October. Each can obtain heights of well over 5 feet and will readily reseed in the right conditions. Their beauty is hard to capture in photos. These are definitely plants best enjoyed close up and in person. The tissues of these plants contain many acrid compounds and thus they are rarely browsed upon by herbivores. Rarely available from most nurseries, planting these strange figworts will surely bring joy and novelty to any native landscape.

  • Dogbane

    Common Name: Dogbane
    Latin Name: Apacynum Cannabinum
    Bloom Time: May, June, July, August
    Description: Dogbane is also called Indianhemp. The plant has opposing leaves and dense heads of small greenish-white flowers, which are popular with small insect pollinators; mostly bees and moths.  The USDA-NRCA lists Dogbane as "very high" in its importance to pollinators. The species may spread in colonies as horizontal roots form from an initial taproot and can be considered aggressive. Flowers are followed by long (4") narrow pods that contain many silk-tufted seeds.  Dogbane's botanical name refers to its believed toxicity to dogs and its similarity to hemp.  The plant's strong fibers have made it prized for cordage and threads for centuries. Visually, younger plants are often mistaken for Milkweeds, but as the plant matures and flowers, there are many noticeable differences.

  • Lance-Leaf Coreopsis

    Common Name: Lance-leaf Coreopsis
    Latin Name: Coreopsis lanceolata
    Bloom Time: May, June, July, August
    Description: Lance-leaf Coreopsis waves brightly in late spring and early summer on sunny sites with dry or sandy soil. The bright yellow, daisy-like flowers are about 1 1/2" in diameter and bloom singly on long stems. The ray petals have four deep lobes on their margins. This species also is commonly called Sand Coreopsis.

  • Scurfy Pea

    Common Name: Scurfy Pea
    Latin Name: Pediomelum tenuiflorum
    Bloom Time: June, July
    Description: A plant of many names: Latin -  Pediomelum tenuiflorum, Psoralea tenuiflora, Psoralidium tenuiflorum; and common - Slender Scurfy Pea, Slimflower Scurfpea, Scurfy Pea, and Wild Alfalfa, this palmately-leaved legume is said to repel mosquitos when burned. Scurfy Pea is considered a plant of special value to native bees by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. This is a legume species (member of the pea family).  Most legumes harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots.

  • Foxglove Beardtongue

    Common Name: Foxglove Beardtongue
    Latin Name: Penstemon digitalis
    Bloom Time: June, July
    Description: Penstemon digitalis (Foxglove Beardtongue) matures to 3' in height and has white to pink flowers. It prefers medium to dry medium soils but can adapt to many light conditions: full sun to part shade such as clearings within forests, woods' edges, and savannas. It is very easy to grow from seed. The tubular flowers of this plant attract long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, Miner bees, Mason bees, and hummingbirds.  Penstemons are called 'Beard Tongues' because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs.  You may choose to pair Penstemon with some of these other native plants: Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Spiderworts (Tradescantia ohiensis), and Prairie Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium campestre).  Other common names include Mississippi Penstemon, Smooth White Beardtongue, Talus Slope Penstemon, and simply, Beardtongue.

  • Canada Milk Vetch

    Common Name: Canada Milk Vetch
    Latin Name: Astragalus canadensis
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Canada Milk Vetch is a common plant found throughout the US and Canada. This adaptable species can thrive in a variety of environments including prairies, woodlands, and stream banks. As a garden plant, Canada Milk Vetch provides great leaf texture. The green flowers make an interesting addition to cut flower arrangements. Canada Milk Vetch is a common nectar source for bumblebees and honeybees, and for food for animals including deer, wild turkey, groundhogs, rabbits, and livestock. Also called Canadian Milk Vetch, or Rattle Weed, it attracts hummingbirds, song birds, and butterflies, including the Western Tailed Blue Butterfly larvae. Although generally not considered poisonous, caution is advised with any member of the Astragalus genus as they are known to contain at least some level of toxic glycosides. Take special care grazing livestock in pastures with Canada Milk Vetch; cattle fatalities have been reported after grazing in fields containing this plant. This is a legume species (member of the pea family).  Most legumes harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots.

  • Butterflyweed

    Common Name: Butterflyweed
    Latin Name: Asclepias tuberosa
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed, is most often a distinctive bright orange but there is some variation in flower color, from deep red-orange to yellow. This distinctive color and the absence of the typical milky sap make identification easy. Butterfly Weed needs a drier, well-drained location to successfully seed into and grow well. In older mature plants the long tap root can extend down a foot or more. They can be transplanted if dug carefully during dormancy but if enough root material is left behind, they will regrow. The leaves are somewhat narrow, up to 1” and tapered, with no stem. This is a great Milkweed for a sunny location in a dry area. Mature plants in ideal locations can make as many as 20 stems at an average height of 2’. The vivid orange color, low mounded profile, and ability to attract and sustain butterflies make this plant a well-known favorite for all types of gardens.

  • Common Milkweed

    Common Name: Common Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepcias speciosa
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: The large flower can vary in color from nearly white to deep pink-purple. The fragrance is very delicate and pleasing and numerous native pollinators will benefit during its long bloom time.  Common Milkweed looks similar to Prairie Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) and Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).  Monarch butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on Milkweed plants, making them the sole food source for their larvae.  Once found in abundance in nearly every farm field, ditch, and disturbed site, Common Milkweed numbers have been in dramatic decline in recent years, due in part to suburban development and the increased efficiency of herbicides used in conjunction with herbicide-tolerant, genetically modified row crops. It spreads readily by seed and underground rhizomes and its taproot can withstand drought. Common Milkweed is one of the easiest and fastest to establish of the Milkweeds and planting more, even in small urban pockets, can provide personal satisfaction while helping to counter increasing threats to our Monarch butterfly population.

  • Rose Milkweed

    Common Name: Rose Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepcias incarnata
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Asclepias incarnata, Rose Milkweed, is also commonly called Red Milkweed, Marsh Milkweed, or Swamp Milkweed.  That lovely vanilla fragrance you detect coming from large rosy pink flowers possibly hosting several Monarch or Swallowtail butterflies is Rose Milkweed.  This deer-resistant plant grows in moist to average soils, and blooms in July and August.  Later, large pods form which will break open to reveal seeds that will float away in the wind. If growing Rose Milkweed from seed, try fall planting - or if planting in spring be sure to first moist-cold stratify the seeds for a month.  Large numbers of Rose Milkweed can often be seen growing in wetland settings.

  • Prairie Milkweed

    Common Name: Prairie Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepsias sullivantii
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Prairie Milkweed is also called Sullivant's Milkweed, named for William Starling Sullivant, an American botanist of the mid-1800's.  This Milkweed appears generally similar to Common Milkweed but is less aggressive, has slightly smaller flowers, and an overall smooth appearance on the stem, leaves and seed pods.  Visited by hummingbirds and a wide variety of bees and butterflies (including, of course, Monarchs), Prairie Milkweed is one of the plants favored by the larvae of the Milkweed Leaf-Miner fly, which bore holes in the leaves. Easily grown from seed and bearing a very fragrant flower, Prairie Milkweed makes a nice addition to any sunny medium to medium-moist garden.  After just a few years the taproot will extend very deep, protecting the plant in times of drought, but also making it difficult to move so choose your spot wisely.

  • Showy Milkweed

    Common Name: Showy Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepcias speciosa
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description:Asclepias speciosa is similar to Common Milkweed, but its pinkish-purple flowers have longer petals that taper more and are covered with fine hairs. Asclepias are excellent nectar sources and are food for the larval stages of Monarch and Queen butterflies.

  • Tall Green Milkweed

    Common Name: Tall Green Milkweed
    Latin Name: Asclepsias hirtella
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed) matures to 4' in height and has white-green flowers that tend to be the most prolific of the upland Milkweeds.  Each umbel has up to 100 flowers.  Another characteristic is its narrow, alternate leaves; most Milkweeds have opposite leaves.  Similar in appearance in flower color and narrow leaves is Whorled Milkweed; but it is shorter and has thinner leaves.   Tall Green MIlkweed prefers medium-wet through dry soil conditions and grows best in full sun to partial shade.  It will reproduce by seed rather than by its central taproot which makes the plant very drought-tolerant.  Like most Milkweeds, it blooms mid-summer: June, July, and August.  It is attractive to butterflies and bees mostly notably honeybees, bumblebees, and leaf-cutting bees.

  • Prairie Coreposis

    Common Name: Prairie Coreposis
    Latin Name: Coreopsis palmata
    Bloom Time: June, July, August
    Description: Prairie Coreopsis matures to a height of just 2'. It prefers medium to dry soil conditions and sets striking yellow flowers for 3-4 weeks, usually in June and July. Beekeepers consider all Coreopsis species to be good honey sources. In the past, some American Indian tribes applied boiled Coreopsis seeds to painful areas of their bodies in order to relieve ailments such as rheumatism.   Other common names in use include Tickseed, Stiff Tickseed, and Stiff Coreopsis.

  • Anise Hyssop

    Common Name: Anise Hyssop
    Latin Name: Agastache foeniculum
    Bloom Time: June, July, August, September
    Description: Anise Hyssop has very showy flowers, fragrant foliage and seems to be of little interest to deer. It self-seeds readily and often blooms the first year. New seedlings are hardy and can be transplanted easily. It's a bee, hummingbird, and butterfly magnet and makes an excellent addition to herb gardens, borders, perennial gardens, and prairies. When the leaves of the Anise Hyssop are crushed, they smell like licorice and have been used to make tea and cold remedies.  Other common names in use: Lavender Hyssop or Blue Giant Hyssop.

  • Mountain Mint

    Common Name: Mountain Mint
    Latin Name: Pycnanthemum virginianum
    Bloom Time: June, July, August, September
    Description: Mountain Mint attracts many insects to its flowers, including various bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies, and beetles. The leaves are very fragrant; when crushed they have a strong minty odor. The flowers will be white to shades of light purple, some with purple spots.  Pycnanthemum means "densely flowered," an attribute that enables Mountain Mint to accommodate many pollinators at once.  The long bloom time, a month or more in July and August, is another reason Mountain Mint is a great choice for those interested in feeding pollinators.  The light green foliage of all Mountain Mint species is visually pleasing, too, making it a nice garden choice even when not flowering. For a shorter species, in medium soils, try Slender Mountain Mint.  Other common names are Mountain Thyme, Pennyroyal, and Prairie Hyssop.

  • Black Eyed Susan

    Common Name: Black eyed susan
    Latin Name: Rudbeckia hirta
    Bloom Time: June, July, August, September, October
    Description: Black-eyed Susan is an opportunist that thrives easily in disturbed areas.  It has naturalized through most of the continent. A biennial, it blooms and completes its life cycle in its second year but will re-seed.  We include it as an early marker in almost all of our prairie and savanna seed mixes. For a long-lived perennial Black-eyed Susan, choose Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa).

  • Common Evening Primrose

    Common Name: Common Evening Primrose
    Latin Name: Oenothera biennis
    Bloom Time: June, July, August, September, October, November
    Description: Common Evening Primrose grows in recently disturbed soils of prairies, old fields, roadsides and other sunny medium to dry sites. It is a biennial; it grows vegetatively during the first year and completes its life cycle during the second but will reseed. It can reach heights of 6' in the right conditions but is often shorter.  Although labeled as a weed by some, it is a very important native plant with a long bloom time benefiting nectaring moths, butterflies, caterpillars and many kinds of bees. Common Evening Primrose is one of the last natives blooming late into fall.

  • Purple Love Grass

    Common Name: Purple Love Grass
    Latin Name: Eragrostis spectabilis
    Bloom Time: July- August
    Description: Purple Love Grass is a perennial, warm season grass that grows actively during the summer when soil temperatures are warm. It reaches heights of 1-2 feet even in the driest, poorest of soils. It thrives in full sun and sandy sites - even roadsides that receive winter road salt. Purple Love Grass can also grow under Black Walnut trees where other plants fail.  The seed heads (or florets) bloom mid-summer in shades of light to bright purple, giving an overall purple haze to the landscape. This tough ornamental grass is an absolutely stunning addition to any rock garden or drier landscape.

  • Hairy Mountain Mint

    Common Name: Hairy Mountain Mint
    Latin Name: Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. pillosum
    Bloom Time: July- August
    Description: Hairy Mountain Mint is easy to grow from seed and easy to care for once established.  It is clump-forming and can spread by rhizomes readily so is not the best native plant for small areas, but roots can be easily cut back once a year to prevent spreading. The maximum height of 3' will be in average soils and full sun.  1-2' is more likely in drier soils and part shade.  The small white to lavender flowers have subtle purple spots and are packed with nectar inviting all kinds of bees, wasps, flies, beetles, moths and butterflies. It indeed is one of THE natives to have to attract pollinators.  Mammals, small and large, will not bother this plant due to its strong mint smell.  A simple walk-by and brush up against this plant will yield that familar mint fragrance. The leaves and stems are more hairy than other Pycnanthemum species, giving it its Common Name, Hairy Mountain Mint.  It is also referred to as Whorled Mountain Mint.

  • Great St. John's Wort

    Common Name: Great St. John's Wort
    Latin Name: Hypericum pyramidatum
    Bloom Time: July- August
    Description: Hypericum plants are favorites for all kinds of pollinating insects.  Also called Hypericum ascyron.

  • Nodding Onion

    Common Name: Nodding Onion
    Latin Name: Allium cernuum
    Bloom Time: July-August
    Description: Nodding Onion is stunning to have in gardens because of its unique flowers. A ball of star-like flowers forms on each stem, tending to bend downward; hence the name "nodding" onion.  The nodding habit may also protect the nectar from rain. Native American tribes used the bulbs of Nodding Onion as a treatment for croup, colic, colds and fevers.  Allium cernuum blooms in midsummer, and the flowers are pollinated by small short-tongued bees, such as Halictid bees.  Nodding Onion, like all the Allium species, is deer-resistant. Allium cernuum grows best in full or partial sun, and moist to medium conditions.  It tends to spread by seed and bulb offshoots.  The flowers are almost white to shades of purple in color and mature plants can reach up to 18" in height.  This plant is easy to grow and will spread gradually under suitable conditions.

  • Orange Coneflower

    Common Name: Orange Coneflower
    Latin Name: Rudbeckia fulgida
    Bloom Time: July, August, September
    Description: Orange Coneflower is a butterfly favorite with a mid-summer-to-fall bloom time that can be prolonged by removing spent blossoms. The large, daisy-like flowers have yellow-orange rays and purple-brown centers. Plants reach 3' and can form colonies in large plantings on sunny sites with medium-dry to medium-wet soil.

  • Wild Bergamot

    Common Name: Wild Bergamot
    Latin Name: Mondara fistulosa
    Bloom Time: July, August, September
    Description: Wild Bergamot can be planted in spring, on bare soil, and will germinate without overwintering; it does not need stratification. Monarda fistulosa, also commonly called Bee Balm or Horse-Mint, has a lovely violet blossom and distinctively aromatic foliage. It is a familiar component of prairie and savanna communities on all but the wettest of soils. Native to most of North America, it often is cited for its historical medicinal applications among indigenous peoples. These include poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds and flu. Wild Bergamot is a favorite of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Its species name, fistulosa, refers to the tube-like structure of its blossoms, which appear from July through September, nicely complementing nearby yellow composite flowers, like Rudbeckia, Silphium, and Helianthus.

  • Shrubby St. John's Wort

    Common Name: Shrubby St. John’s Wort
    Latin Name: Hypericum prolificum
    Bloom Time: July, August, September
    Description: This shrub will naturally form a round-bush appearance but can be pruned early spring for a more mounded shape.  An absolute bee magnet that will take almost any soil type. It is rare that you get such beauty out of something so hardy. Able to grow under just about any soil condition you could throw at it, this lovely shrub is also quite resistant to deer and rabbits. Its secret lies in the toxic substances within its tissues that irritate the gastrointestinal tracts of mammals. It is a host plant for a variety of caterpillars and very attractive to a wide array of pollinators.  Bumblebees are especially fond of the bright yellow flowers.   On the decline in some parts of its range, this species is actually considered threatened in New York and endangered in New Jersey. In the wild it can be found growing everywhere from stream banks to barren, rocky outcrops. This is a great addition to a native garden as it provides aesthetic appeal as well as ecosystem function.

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