Bee Loving Native Shrubs

June is a busy time for pollinators, and the garden offers many native shrubs for them.  These five shrubs are busy being pollinated in the upper garden. Enjoy the blooms, and watch for bees.

Botanic name: Gaultheria shallon
Common name: salal
Family: Ericaceae

In the upper garden you’ll find this shrub, which can get up to 16’ tall.  Look for dark green, leathery, egg-shaped, 2-3” long leaves, and then look for the tiny white or light pink bell shaped flowers along the stems of the shrub.  If you look closely you will notice the flower are also a bit hairy in appearance. You might also see a bee or two indulging in the sweet pollen. Later in the season salal will produce small reddish to blue, rough-surfaced, hairy, berries which have historically been part of native diets.  They are edible, and reportedly sweet.  

Botanic name: Holodiscus discolor
​Common name: oceanspray
Family:  Rosaceae

Cascading white flower clusters are the first thing you will notice about this shrub in the upper garden.  With its woody stems it can look a bit tree-like, and grows up to about 7’ tall. Outside of the garden, you’ll commonly find this shrub in the Pacific Northwest and California Coastal areas growing in both forested understory and open areas.  While oceanspray has been used for everything from medicinal to tool material for native peoples, it is especially favored by bees and other pollinators.

Botanic name:  Philadelphus lewisii
​Common name: mock orange
Family: Hydrangeaceae

In spring, tender young red branches appear, later turning more woody, and then sporting oval 1-2” long light green leaves.  This time of year you’ll see white flower clusters formed toward the ends of branches. Four white 1.5” petals surrounding yellow stamen form these slightly pineapple scented blossoms, much enjoyed by the bees.  Note the “lewisii” portion of the name – this native western plant was “discovered” by explorer Meriwether Lewis as the country expanded westward.

Botanic name:  Rosa nutkana
Common name: Nootka rose, wild rose
​Family: Rosaceae   

Bees often find this shrub growing near the edges of forested areas, and you’ll find one minding it’s own business at the upper edge of Leach Gardens. It is named for the place of its discovery, Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound.  It can get quite large – up to about 10’. It has light green paired leaflets with toothed edges and sharp prickles at the base, but that doesn’t deter the bees from enjoying the single or clustered 2-3” pink flowers. with their characteristically strong rose fragrance.  Later in the season the flowers will turn to rather bitter hips.

Botanic name:  Symphoricarpos albus
Common name: Snowberry
Family: Caprifoliaceae

Growing in shady, forested areas or along riverbanks, bees find this relative of the honeysuckle  in many areas of the garden. While this deciduous shrub is easily identified by its clusters of white berries later in the year, this time of year its dark leaves share the branch space with clusters of up to 16 bell-shaped flowers that bees hide inside of on their pollen collection rounds. Not only does it act as a food source for our pollinator friends, but is also enjoyed by bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, and bears.

Bee Loving Native Shrubs

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