Posts Tagged: Echium candicans
The purplish-blue spiked flowers attract honey bees, bumble bees and syrphid flies.
And visitors. And photographers.
The honey bees were buzzing all over the Echium last Sunday, Feb. 16, as were syrphid flies, aka hover flies or flower flies. But a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, preferred to hide beneath the leaf of a passionflower vine (Passiflora). Next time!
The towering Pride of Maderia, which can easily reach a height of six feet or more, is the pride of the Portuguese island of Madeira, where it's endemic. It's an evergreen bush planted as a drought-tolerant ornamental, particularly in coastal communities. It even gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Wikipedia informs us that the genus name is derived from the Greek "echion," and that the root word "echis" means "viper." Think snake. Apparently the shape of the seed resembles that of a viper's head. Another interpretation: there's an age-old belief that another Echium species, Echium vulgare, aka "Viper's Bugloss," is a remedy for the adder's bite.
However, Echium candicans is not so popular in the state of Victoria, Australia, where it is considered "a high weed risk" and its very presence prompts the Department of Primary Industries to send in the troops...er...alerts.
The first blooms of the year in Bodega, though, are cause for celebration.
And speaking of bees and blooms, you'll want to sign up for the "Pollinator Gardening Workshop, Your Sustainable Backyard,"set Saturday, March 15 at UC Davis. Hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCHU), it will take place at Giedt Hall, UC Davis campus, with a side trip to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden, just west of the campus, on Bee Biology Road.
Registration is underway at on the CCHU website.
CCHU program manager Anne Schellman says that this will be an informative workshop where participants will learn:
- How to identify common bee pollinators
- How to make a landscape pollinator-friendly
- Which plants pollinators prefer
- The latest research about honey bee health and pollinator habitat
- How UC Davis helps honey bees at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden
Honey bee and native pollinator specialists with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will be among the speakers. (See previous Bug Squad blog.)
Honey bees foraging on the Pride of Madeira at Bodega Bay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee targeting an Echium. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The yellow-faced bumble bees are back!
And amid the throes of winter and the promise of spring.
On a trip Feb. 27 to Bodega Bay, we spotted two yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) about two miles apart.
They were both foraging on "The Pride of Madeira" (Echium candicans) on a sunny, but wind-whipped day in this Sonoma County coastal town.
The camera lens, the strong wind and the erratic flight of the bumble bees didn't allow us to get close, but the purple spiked flowers made a delightful sight.
See more images of this bumble bee, found throughout western North America, on Bug Guide.
Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) foraging on the Pride of Maderia at Bodega Bay on Feb. 27. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Covered in pollen, a yellow-faced bumble bee forages on a seaside daisy at Bodega Bay on June 10, 2010. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)