Native Plants and Pollinators

The “Currant” Situation

The “Currant” Situation

Some of the first early blooming native flowers in Colorado include shrubs in the Currant family. It is middle April as I write this, and strong wind whips with intensity across the San Luis Valley. As the soil continues to warm, the roots of perennial native plants...

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Mason Bees: Pollinator Heroes

Mason Bees: Pollinator Heroes

Mason bees, in the genus Osmia and the family Megachilidae, are extremely efficient pollinators. They are known to be one of the most important and effective pollinators for the genus Penstemon. The photo on the left below shows a mason bee on Penstemon scariosus var....

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The Bouncy Butterfly Proboscis!

The Bouncy Butterfly Proboscis!

Butterfly pollination and some amazing facts: About three decades ago, I sat in an ecology class while the professor, Dr. Cheesman, went on about the amazing elasticity of the proboscis on a butterfly. I sat wide-eyed and amazed as he explained the tissues that assist...

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Pollen Wasps

Pollen Wasps

Pollen Wasps will often rest in Penstemon flowers. These rested all night next to my tent. We all felt the sunrise together. Often mistaken for yellow jackets, but actually a non-stinging gatherer of pollen and nectar. You will not see a yellow jacket collecting...

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Bumble Bees Pollinating Boulder Raspberry

Bumble Bees Pollinating Boulder Raspberry

Bumblebees pollinating Boulder raspberry- Rubus deliciosus In Crestone, Colorado at 8,500' Just as we gather berries in a basket, bees gather pollen and nectar in their own specialized pollen baskets. On bumblebees these are called curbiculae. The curbiculae, or...

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Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and Moths

"Butterflies are very active during the day and visit a variety of wildflowers. Butterflies are less efficient than bees at moving pollen between plants. Highly perched on their long thin legs, they do not pick up much pollen on their bodies and lack specialized...

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Specialist Pollinators

Specialist Pollinators

Specialist Pollinators! One example of many specialists includes the squash bee. Colorado has a native squash called Buffalo Gourd- Cucurbita foetidissima. This native plant gets pollinated ONLY by squash bees in the genera Peponapis and Xenoglossa. I have never been...

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Ground Nesting Bees

Ground Nesting Bees

    While hiking near Bonanza, Colorado we found a large nest of ground nesting native bees. This is always a very exciting thing to observe. They fly so fast and dive into the holes they have dug. Some are still digging, some are stuffing pollen and nectar...

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Hummingbirds Love Penstemons!

Hummingbirds Love Penstemons!

Several species of hummingbirds migrate from Mexico and South America to Colorado in the spring each year. They are especially attracted to red flowers. Adding red penstemon to your garden such as Penstemon barbatus is essential for...

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Pollination Biology of the Yucca!

Pollination Biology of the Yucca!

Pollination Biology of the Yucca! An Amazing Story to learn about. Have you noticed? The Yucca plants are in bloom! In Colorado there are approximately six species of Yucca which occur in the Agave or Agavaceae Family. Each species of Yucca has its own species of...

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Native Gooseberry Brings in the Pollinators

Native Gooseberry Brings in the Pollinators

Early this week the native gooseberry began to bloom. Immediately the shrubs were filled with pollinators including native bees (Osmia spp., and Anthophora spp.), syrphid flies, flies, and butterflies (thicket hairstreak, Milbert's tortoiseshell, hoary comma). Also, I...

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