August 15th is Oregon Native Bee Conservation Awareness Day!

 
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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.

Plant natives for Oregon Native Bee Conservation Awareness Day!

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!

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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.

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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!

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Bigelow’s sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) in the Red Buttes Wilderness.
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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! 🙂

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Male black-tailed bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus) sleeping underneath a sneezeweed flower in our garden.

It’s Seed Collecting Time!

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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: klamathsiskiyou@gmail.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! Happy Botanizing!
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Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax)

July 4th Wildflower Show in Ashland

California spikenard (Aralia calfornica) flowering in the forest.
Western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) in the Klamath-Siskiyou.
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)
Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea)
pollinating fly on elegant tarweed (Madia elegans)
Oregon checkermallow (Sidalcea oregana ssp. spicata)
Narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)
Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

Irene Hollenbeck Memorial Wildflower Show

July 4, 10 am-4 pm

This Wildflower Show in Ashland features over 300 species of native flowers from the volcanic Cascades, the much older Siskiyous, and the valleys in between. Free admission. Location: Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way (across from Lithia Park in Ashland). Coordinated by the Siskiyou Chapter, Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO). Come meet some of our beautiful mountain flowers!

I helped collect wildflowers for the show today, and helped with the setup at the community center. It’s going to be a great show with lots of amazing flowers from throughout southern Oregon. Check it out! -Suzie

Native Bees of the Siskiyous

Get to know native flora and fauna! Take a field course with the Siskiyou Field Institute!

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SFI’s Native Bees of the Siskiyous class netting native bees for observation at Page Mountain. We found different species of bees on flowering plants such as snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus) and whipplevine (Whipplea modesta).
Have you ever wanted to learn more about native bees and native plant pollination? I highly recommend taking Siskiyou Field Institute’s (SFI) Native Bees of the Siskiyous course, taught by native bee expert, Robbin Thorp. Last weekend I attended this course and was really glad I did. SFI’s field courses are always so good. Being a lover of native plants and natural ecosystems, it’s only natural to want to understand as much as possible about the native pollinators these plants depend on for their reproduction, and vice versa — the mutualism between bees and flowering plants is fascinating! World-renowned native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, was the recipient of the 2015 UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Award for his outstanding scholarly work and service accomplished since his retirement in 1994. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of California: An Identification Guide (2014, Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (2014, Heyday Books). The Siskiyou Field Institute is an amazing resource for getting in-depth, field-based knowledge about the amazing Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion. Check out their courses! Below are some photos from the course:
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Course instructor, Robbin Thorp holding and observing a male Fernald cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus flavidus). Cuckoo bumble bees are social parasites. Females infiltrate a host colony, kill the queen and usurp the nest in order to have the host colonies’ workers feed her and her young. Native bee nesting and reproduction strategies are complex. 
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Robbin Thorp holding a male Fernald cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus flavidus). Because male bumble bees do not have a stinger you can gently hold one to feel it “buzz!” 
 
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Vosnesensky bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) queen foraging on pussy paws (Calyptridium umbellatum) on serpentine soil along the road to Bolan Lake.
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Vosnesensky bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) queen in a vial for observation in the field. She was collected on June 11th and was estimated to be about a month old. She will be inseminated by a male, fatten up, and soon go into a hibernation that will last until early spring. This queen was larger than any other bee we collected during the class. She was a beauty!
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Bees are hard to ID when they are flying around and foraging. Using vials is a good way to temporarily get a good look at them. We collected three different black tail bumble bees (Bombus melanopygus) in vials for observation. Males and females have different characteristics, and in the Klamath-Siskiyou this species has two different color patterns: red form and black form. These different characteristics and color patterns within a single species can make bumble bee ID difficult.
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Bee specimens collected for this same course at SFI’s Deer Creek Center in 2015. The bees are grouped according to species.
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Robbin Thorp’s collection of the rare western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) and the possibly extinct Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklinii). Note the size variations between queens, males and females. The queens are the largest.

Bedtime for Bumble Bees on Mule’s Ears

[wpvideo LI8YgJXl] 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. [wpvideo QYImWyoU] 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

 
Siskiyou bitterroot (Lewisia cotyledon)
leopard lily (Lilium pardalinum spp. wigginsii)
Hooker’s silene (Silene hookeri)

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

 
Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds