Rocky Mountain Beeplant

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Rocky Mountain beeplant is native to the valley, although I seem to rarely encounter one. They are annuals, but they can grow up to 5 feet in a season. They are in the cleome family (Cleome serrulata) and are often cultivated in gardens. They are one of the most visually striking wildflowers in the area, as you will see.

Rocky Mountain beeplant is known by many common names, among them stink plant, pink spiderflower, and Navajo spinach. They are super producers of nectar and therefore very popular with native bees and other pollinators. They bloom from mid-summer until the fall, blooming upwards on the plant head as you can see in the photo. All parts of the beeplant are edible by humans and are quite nutritious, including the tap root, leaves, and the flower itself. Indigenous people also used it to treat stomach aches and fever and as a source of dye.

(Photo by Skip Via)

This is not an exploding firework; it’s a Rocky Mountain beeplant in blooom.

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