Scrophularia californica

Scrophularia californica (California Bee Plant)

Bee Plant

Perennial 3' to 6' high with tiny dark red flowers that are usually being visited by a bee. Larval food plants for checkerspot butterfly. Good for chaparral and coastal areas. Stalks with seed pods are effective in dried-flower arrangements. Makes quick-growing herbaceous hedge.

Today (September 4), we collected the fine black seed of California figwort, or California bee plant, Scrophularia californica. In the class of large perennials that go dormant in the late summer/early fall, California bee plant astounds me with its ability to rise up through the most trying circumstances, such as a smothering cover of cape ivy, that nasty vine considered the kudzu of the west, which easily eliminated shrubs and trees in the vacant lot next to our Demonstratiion Garden. The only other plant in sight was Calif. bee plant.

When bee plant turned up in my courtyard garden, it was so attractive, with its large fresh green leaves and small but beautiful deep red flowers that I allowed a mass to flow around an old stump. I cut it to the ground every fall and enjoy its return with the winter rains. It spreads through underground rhizomes as well as seeds, but is easily contained by simply pulling unwanted plants straight out of the ground. They give up in a mannerly fashion.

The flowers backlit glow ruby-red, and though not usually considered for the native plant garden, it should be. Maybe the seeds are edible, as the seed of so many native species are. (Ill let you know). Easy to grow, and the bees will thank you.

Bee Plant - packet $6.00

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