May. 15, 2018

Rocky Mountain beeplant, Peritoma serrulata

Beeplant because it is an excellent nectar source. This is a close relative of Cleome, the garden's spiderplant, and is often included in that genus. The foliage has a bitter flavor avoided by grazing animals. Rocky Mountain beeplant was nonetheless eaten as a green, as a dried winter food source, and the seeds were used in meal. Now it is grown in gardens, and has spread eastward from its original range. The flowering branches lengthen as they bloom, leaving an array of long narrow pods below the flowering heads. According to USDA, beeplant has been reported from AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY, AB, BC, MB, ON, QC, and SK. But CT, IA, ME, NY, and WI are not included in the range cited by Flora of North America, which notes that most central and eastern collections are short-lived garden waifs. Presumably, it is difficult to determine the status of such plants. Lake Co CO, 6/20/13.