Bedtime for Bumble Bees on Mule’s Ears

Bumble bees blowing in an evening breeze on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia).

Male bumble bees do not have pollen baskets because they don’t help provision the nest as female queens and female worker bees do. Male bumble bees are only responsible for feeding themselves, pollinating flowers as they go. Male bumble bees do not return to the nest at all after the larval stage. Instead, male bumble bees sleep in, on, or under the flowers that they forage on for food. In the early evening, as the sun is beginning to wane and the day cools down, male bumble bees will pick a flower to sleep on, then they will forage on the flower until dark, positioning themselves in a protected place for the night.

Bumble bees on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) in the early morning, after spending the night on and underneath the flower, before beginning their day of pollination services for many native plants.

When morning comes and the temperature is still cool, male bumble bees can immediately drink nectar to increase their metabolism and warm up before the sun comes out and they begin foraging.

Mule’s ears is a widespread plant in the Klamath-Siskiyou. It is flowering now in many plant communities, including ponderosa pine forest, foothill woodland, chaparral, and valley grassland. You will often find a diversity of pollinator species enjoying the floral resources that mule’s ears provides.

 

 

White rushlily (Hastingsia alba)

white rushlily (Hastingsia alba)

white rushlily (Hastingsia alba)

The pale and unassuming beauty of white rushlily (Hastingsia alba) is often overlooked. Found only in northern California and southern Oregon, white rushlily is a common site for botany enthusiasts who hike around the region, but in general, is a little known plant.

White rushlily grows in many different habitat types but is most often found in moist areas in forest, brush, meadow, riparian, wetland and rocky places. Depending on the soil type it can grow up to 3′ tall, but if the soils are particularly harsh it will be much smaller, especially on serpentine soil.

Hastingsia is a small genus in the plant family Asparagaceae, the asparagus family, and the subfamily Agavoideae, the agave subfamily. The genus Hastingsia used to be classified in the lily family, hence the name white rushlily, but this has changed in recent years. Now Hastingsia is classified in the same subfamily as California native plants such as desert agave (Agave deserti) and Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). Seem strange to you? Plants are great teachers about the interconnectedness of species. There are two other plant genera in the Klamath-Siskiyou that are also in the agave subfamily: Camas (Camassia) and Soaproot (Chlorogalum).

Other related and endemic rushlilies in the Klamath-Siskiyou are also worth searching out. In the northern part of the Illinois Valley of southern Oregon grows the large-flowered rush lily (Hastingsia bracteosa var. bracteosa). In the southern part of the Illinois valley of southern Oregon grows the purple flowered rushlily (Hastingsia bracteosa var. atropurpurea). In northern California grows the Klamath rushlily (Hastingsia serpentinicola). For more information on the taxonomy of Hastingsia species in the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion, please check out: Species boundary quandaries in Hastingsia (Agavoideae, Asparagaceae).

Although white rushlily grows in wet meadows, bogs and rocky seeps in the wild, it is easily adapted to the irrigated garden environment; it is happy to dry out in the late summer, as it does in many seasonal seeps and springs in the wild. Flowering occurs between May and June at lower elevations and June to July at higher elevations. Growing white rushlily from seed is easy to do but will take some patience. From seed it will be several years until the bulb develops enough stored energy to flower. Propagation by seed requires three months of cold stratification.

Many pollinator species use white rushlily in the garden, including many different bumble bees. I recently stopped to check a patch of showy milkweed for use by monarch butterflies and realized the milkweed was growing in a natural rocky seep on a roadside in combination with white rushlily, right in the valley bottom. It is a highly adaptable plant.

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Range map for white rushlily (Hastingsia alba)

The following is from the Jepson Herbarium’s Jepson eFlora:

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Hastingsia alba (Durand) S. Watson
NATIVE
Habit: Bulb 26–56 mm, 17–31 mm wide. Inflorescence: dense; branches generally 2–3. Flower: 6–8 mm; perianth parts elongating as anthers mature, equal, white to +- yellow, outer +- 1 mm wide, linear, blunt, inner +- 2 mm wide, ovate, acute. Fruit: 6–9 mm, oblong. Chromosomes: n=26.
Ecology: Wet meadows, bogs, rocky seeps; Elevation: 500–2300 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaR, n SNH; Distribution Outside California: southwestern Oregon. Flowering Time: Jun–Jul
Synonyms: Schoenolirion album Durand

 

Pre-orders and Contract Seed Collecting

 

Pre-orders and Contract Seed Collecting

Seed collecting season has begun! As the warm and sunny days of summer approach, early blooming native plants are starting to set seed. It’s a good time to think ahead and plan for seed planting this fall and winter.

What native plant species will you need seed for this year?

Habitat Restoration: Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds encourages those currently planning a habitat restoration project to take advantage of our contract seed collecting services to make sure you get the seeds you will need in time for implementation of your project. Contact us about your project and for more information regarding our contract seed collecting services. Source-identified seeds adapted to the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion will establish better than seed sourced from outside the ecoregion, and they provide local genetic stock for regional pant conservation.

Garden use: Perhaps you need seed for a particular plant species? For a pollinator garden, rock garden, native specimen plant, bird habitat, native medicinals, native edibles, or for your backyard botanical garden? For specific requests we recommend that you make a pre-order to let us know what you are looking for. Pre-orders make it more likely we will search out the particular species you want as we collect larger amounts from common and more popular species.

Now is the time to let us know what native seed you are looking for!

Contact us at klamathsiskiyou@gmail.com

 

Talking Natives at the Spring Garden Fair

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Luke talking about native seeds and native plants of the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion with customers at the Master Gardener’s Spring Garden Fair.

 

This past weekend Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds had a booth at the Master Gardener’s Spring Garden Fair at the Jackson County Expo. This two-day event near Medford, Oregon is the largest garden fair in between San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. This year saw record attendance at the Fair and our booth was very busy!

The enthusiasm we encountered for native plants was very encouraging. There is a growing interest in planting natives for wildlife habitat, birds, pollinators, native plant conservation, water conservation, wild food, plant medicine, and beauty! Folks that stopped by our booth bought native seeds and plants for backyard gardens, as well as for habitat restoration and biodiversity on their land.

It is always a joy to engage the public about the benefits of planting natives. Direct contact with our customers at events allows for detailed discussions about native seed and plant propagation techniques, as well as choosing appropriate plant species for various geographic locations and site-specific conditions.

Thanks to everyone for a very successful and fun event!