1606 N 600 Rd, Baldwin City, 66006

Fall/Winter Songbird Fruit & Seed Plants

Following is a shortlist of perennials, shrubs, and trees to feed fruit and seed-eating birds in fall and winter. Leave dried plant stalks in place until spring.

purple coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

A prairie native featuring showy purple flowers in July and August on plants that grow to 2-3'. Like its cousins, flowers make great cuts, butterflies are attracted to the flowers and birds appreciate the seed when cones are left to dry. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP

purple love grass

Eragrostis spectabilis

Masses of reddish-purple panicle blooms are beautiful in large sweeps. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE US. [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="medium" ids="6089"]

oxeye daisy, false sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides

Bright yellow daisies open in late summer thru fall on tall native plants. Tolerates some light shade, but plants are less vigorous and stems need support. Remove spent flowers to extend bloom season, but allow some seed to fall to encourage seedlings to grow and replace the short-lived perennial parents. Plant stems may be cut back by 1/3 to 1/2 in late May to reduce overall plant height while preserving fall bloom. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP

black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

Huge 3-4″ deep yellow blooms with dark brown eye cover this black-eyed Susan from late spring until frost in an exuberant show. A rampant self-seeder, one plant will quickly become many in the garden. We leave ours to dry and provide birdseed in winter. Plants grow 30-36″ tall and tolerate a small amount of shade. NATIVE TO MOST OF THE U.S.

‘York’ elderberry

Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis

'York' offers the largest berries of any cultivated variety. Great source of vitamin C. Fruit makes wonderful pie, juice, jelly and wine. Vigorous and hardy plants produce showy white flowers in summer and colorful fall foliage. One of the easiest berries to grow, plants grow large—allow for 6 feet of width and a height of 8'. Excellent for the wildlife garden as well. NATIVE TO NORTH AMERICA.

black chokeberry

Aronia melancarpa var. 'Elata’

An open, upright, deciduous shrub that typically grows 3-6’ tall. Autumn berries and purple-red foliage color. Native to swamps and low woodlands from Newfoundland to Minnesota south to Tennessee and South Carolina. Var. elata is more vigorous, slightly larger but less suckering, with longer leaves, larger flowers and larger fruit, and is thusly considered to be a superior landscaping shrub in comparison to the species.


Allegheny serviceberry

Amelanchier laevis

A small, deciduous, usually multi-trunked understory tree or tall shrub which is native to thickets and open woods in Eastern North America where it typically grows 15-25’. Showy, 5-petaled, slightly fragrant, white flowers in drooping clusters which appear in early spring followed by edible berries loved by birds.

Larval host for the Striped Hairstreak butterfly.


‘Red Sprite’ deciduous holly

Ilex verticilata

A profusion of striking bright red berries will stop you in your tracks on your winter hike and provide food for overwintering birds. Use as foundation color, for a natural hedge, or in a shrub border for a showstopping display. An early-flowering male pollenizer such as Jim Dandy Winterberry is required for berry set. In addition to their striking ornamental value, deciduous holly berries provide food for at least 48 bird species. While the berries are low in fat content, they provide a valuable source of food in the winter, when other sources of food are scarce. We also grow the straight native. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP


Malus hybrids

A genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs from Europe, Asia and North America. Adaptable to a wide variety of soil and light, good resistance to the main diseases of crabapples including apple scab, fire blight, rusts, leaf spot and powdery mildew. Insect pests are of lesser concern. Blooms in spring. Hardy to zone 4. ‘Indian Summer’ (pink/orange berries) 15-20’ tall and wide ‘Prairiefire’ (dark pink) 15-20’  tall and wide ‘Sargent’s Tina’ (white) 5’ tall and 6’ wide ‘Sugar Tyme’ (white) 14-18’ tall and 11’–15’ wide

black walnut

Juglans nigra

When grown in the open, the black walnut reaches 75' tall with a round, low branching, open crown that spreads nearly as wide as it is tall. It develops a deep taproot and is difficult to transplant. The hard to crack shell encases a nut, and shells can stain fingers, clothing, and concrete. The trees bear in 12-15 years. Partially self-fertile, plant multiple trees to ensure pollination. Alleopathy is the term given to the suppression of growth of one plant species by another due to the release of toxic substances. Black walnut tree roots contain juglone, a toxic substance released when the roots of juglone-sensitive species come in contact with walnut roots. The black walnut's poison does not work on all species and some even seem to thrive on it. Black walnut trees provide valuable winter food to birds and small mammals. It's a larval host plant for the Banded Hairstreak butterfly. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN TWO-THIRDS OF THE U.S.

black cherry

Prunus serotina

This native ranges from southeastern Canada through the eastern US, and west to Texas. White flowers open after the glossy leaves have emerged, and dark red fruit changes to black from August through October. Fall foliage is yellow. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the fruit of the black cherry tree is eaten by 33 species of birds and many mammals, and is a larval host to Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cherry Gall Azure, Viceroy, Columbia Silkmoth, Promethea Moth, Small-eyed Sphinx Moth, Wild Cherry Sphinx Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, Band-edged Prominent, Spotted Apatelodes. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. AND WESTERN CANADA.


Quercus species

Oaks are without doubt one of the most important trees of the Northern Hemisphere. Historically, oaks have been an important source of fuel, fodder, and building materials throughout their range. Acorns provide an important wildlife food source.

Quercus alba (white)  Occurs in dry upland slopes and lowland valleys. Grows to 50-80’ tall in cultivation and up 100’ in the wild. Pyramidal when young, but matures into a substantial tree with a wide-spreading, rounded crown. Variable fall color ranges from uninteresting browns to quality shades of dark red. White oak grows over much of eastern North America and is an important hardwood timber tree. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

Quercus bicolor (swamp white) Height and spread of 50–60’. Indigenous to north, central and eastern Missouri in moist to swampy locations in bottomlands and lowlands, such as along streams and lakes, and floodplains. Also has surprisingly good drought resistance. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus imbricaria (shingle) A medium-sized red oak that grows in a conical form to 40-60’ tall, with the crown broadening and rounding with age. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus macrocarpa (bur) Height of 70–80’ and a spread of around 80’ at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12” per year. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN TWO THIRDS OF THE U.S. Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinkapin) Height of 40–50’ and a spread of 50–60’ at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12” to 24” per year. Simple, oblong to oblong-lanceolate coarsely toothed leaves. Fall color varies from yellow to orangish-brown. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus palustris (pin) Height of 60–70’ and a spread of 25–40’ at a fast rate of more than 24” per year. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus phellos (willow) Height of 40–60’ and a spread of 30–40’ at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24” per year. Foliage is thin and strappy. Tolerates poorly drained soil. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus rubra (northern red) Height of 60–75’ and a spread of around 45’ at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24” per year. Fall foliage is striking red. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus shumardii (Shumard) Height of 40–60’ and a spread of 40–60’ at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24” per year. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Quercus robur (English) Native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, has been introduced to Canada and the Northeast U.S.. Under landscape conditions in urban environments, it may reach 50’ tall and wide at a medium growth rate. Quercus texana (Nuttall) The champion Texas red Oak of Kansas made its debut on the list of American Forests Champion Trees in 2017, as it is the largest known tree of its species in the country. It can be found in Crestview Park, in Topeka, KS! Nuttall oaks are easy to establish, and grow like a weed as a young tree. Even better, Nuttalls can tolerate poorly drained sites more so than any other red oak. Nuttalls don’t drop acorns until December, which means they're an important winter food source for many mammals. CLICK FOR NATIVE RANGE.