The native yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) foraging on western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) in a moist meadow on Mt. Ashland.
In honor of Oregon Native Bee Conservation Awareness Day I would like to feature a few late-blooming native coneflowers that our native bees love!
Klamath-Siskiyou native plants have coevolved alongside its native bees, creating a mutualism we should protect and support through land conservation and land stewardship. Native plants provide native bees with more nutritious food and better overall habitat than highly bred cultivated plants do.
Did you know that we have native coneflowers in the Klamath-Siskiyou? Most people are familiar with the midwestern prairie coneflower: Echinacea. Echinacea is a great medicinal plant that pollinators love in the backyard garden setting; however, it is our native coneflowers that provide the best habitat for pollinators along local mountain streams and in intact mountain meadows.
Coneflowers are part of the sunflower family!
Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) is a common plant in moist high elevation meadows in the Klamath-Siskiyou. This species is well-loved by native bees despite the lack of ray flowers (petals). It may be less showy to the human eye, but to native bees it is a forager’s paradise!
Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) in a moist meadow on Mt. Ashland.
Our native Rudbeckias are related to black eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), a native to Eastern and Central North America and a commonly cultivated plant in the horticultural nursery industry.
Waxy coneflower (Rudbeckia glaucescens) is found in wetlands in the western half of the Klamath-Siskiyou — from the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in Oregon, to northern California’s Smith River.
Waxy coneflower (Rudbeckia glaucescens) at Little Vulcan Lake in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
California coneflower (Rudbeckia californica) grows in moist locations in the Klamath Mountains in northwestern California, down through the eastern Sierras. This species is not recognized as occurring in Oregon by the Oregon Flora Project, but it occurs just over the border in California. (I don’t have a photo for this species)
Bigelow’s sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) brightens up meadows with its cheery yellow flowers. Native bees and butterflies are often found foraging and nectaring on sneezeweed flowers. The name sneezeweed comes from an historic use of the dried flowers and leaves as a snuff — not because the flower is an allergen!
Bigelow’s sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) in the Red Buttes Wilderness.
Bigelow’s sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)
Native coneflowers make excellent native plant additions to your pollinator garden. The late-season blooms will provide much needed nectar and pollen as other native flowers start to wane. Forget all the highly manipulated, latest, gimmicky echinacea cultivars in the garden catalogs, and plant native coneflowers for the benefit of native bees and other pollinators! You may even be visited by a male bumble bee sleeping underneath a coneflower in your garden at night like pictured below! 🙂
Male black-tailed bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus) sleeping underneath a sneezeweed flower in our garden.
Picking beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) seed in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Right now is crunch time for seed collecting in the Klamath-Siskiyou. Late blooming, low elevation plants are setting seed as collecting in the low country winds down. Mid-elevation plant seeds are ripening up in abundance as the summer heat sets in. Early flowering, high elevation plants are beginning to set seed as well, beginning the high elevation seed collecting season which lasts until October. We have been out in the field as much as we can collecting native plant seeds for fall and winter planting.
While Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds collects a wide variety of native plant seeds that we feel will be of interest for retail sales, we also offer contract seed collecting services. This service gives landowners, gardeners, nurseries, and botanical gardens the peace of mind that the specific species they need will be collected in a specified quantity. Rates for seed collection services vary, so email us today with your project needs: email@example.com
High elevation wildflower season is at its peak. Take a hike in the mountains to beat the summer heat and get out and experience the high elevation wildflowers in bloom while you can!
Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax)