Food for flower-visiting insects: appreciating common native wild flowering plants.

Published online
19 Sep 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Wignall, V. R. & Balfour, N. J. & Gandy, S. & Ratnieks, F. L. W.
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Native wild flowering plants provide important season-round nectar and pollen resources for flower-visiting insects, but many are unappreciated or even disliked by members of the public; for example ivy (Hedera spp.), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.) and bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.). This antipathy has received little research attention despite a pressing need for a societal shift towards greater awareness of such plants and recognition of their ecological value. Engendering greater awareness and appreciation of common wild-growing plants could greatly improve floral resource availability for flower-visiting insects, enhance biodiversity and simultaneously benefit human physical and mental well-being. However, there are multiple challenges to changing public attitudes. Knowledge of common wild flowering plants among members of the public is limited and this phenomenon is symptomatic of a diminishing human connection to nature. While many species of wild flowering plants may be overlooked due to a lack of awareness or knowledge, it is evident that some 'weeds' are actively unpopular. Reframing societal perceptions towards ecological value could be achieved in several ways including through formal education, messaging by the media, businesses and environmental organisations, and by encouraging public participation in urban land management. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

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