These plants are listed in order of value for nesting birds (Source, Tallamy and Shropshire 2017, National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder).  The list is much shorter than the list of woody plants for birds since woody plants are hosts for a much greater number of lepidoptera.

With the perennials, there is little alignment between perennials hosting lepidoptera and perennials providing good or excellent food for adult birds.  Example – some of the composites host few lepidoptera, but are excellent sources of food for adult birds.  Pale purple coneflower, for instance, is not a high-ranking host plant, but a very good source of food for seed-eating birds.

Genus (Common name) Genus (Latin name)  No. of Lepidopteran species hosted
Goldenrods Solidago 57 *
Sunflowers Helianthus 52 *
Strawberry Frageria 45 *
Bluegrass (native sps. Poa 35 *
Joe Pye Weed, Boneset Eupatorium 33 *
Violets Viola 27 *
Trefoil, Deer Vetch Lotus 25 *
Leadplant, False Indigo, etc. Amorpha 22 *

Examples of perennials with low host value but high food value:

Genus (Common name) Genus (Latin name)  No. of Lepidopteran species hosted
Columbine Aquilegia 9 *
Bee Balm Monarda 8 *
Cardinal Flower Lobelia 3 *

*Provide good food source for adult birds