I have been reading Doug Tallamy’s books. He suggests we determine the “keystone” native plants for our area that support 75% of insect life such as caterpillars that so many species depend on. What are the keystone plants for Toronto? I believe Goldenrod is one of them since it supports way more species than some of the other native plants. Thanks!
Thank you for writing, and for sharing your reading with Toronto Master Gardeners.
First, for more interesting research, TMG has published a detailed listing of Native Plant Suggestions
As well, Landscape Ontario has produced an informative Grow Me Instead guide to native alternatives to grow.
To your question: selecting 3 keystone native perennial plants could not be an easy task, but many would likely agree in nominating Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) as one of the most highly recognized plants, in Toronto, Ontario, as a food source for pollinators and insect life; also an informed vote could be the Asclepias (Common, Swamp and Orange Milkweeds). Another could possibly be Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida), or Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). In any event, regardless of differing inherent values among plants, it behooves every gardener, with their first-hand understanding of their own garden’s cultural conditions, to make best native planting selections that will work together as a team. Again, thank you for your thoughtful question.