Central Sierra
University of California
Central Sierra

Yule'll Like This One

Tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're growing a tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) in your yard, you won't need a stop sign or a traffic light to encourage vehicles to slow down--they will automatically when they see this spectacular plant.

it's a traffic stopper.

The plant, reminiscent of a Christmas tree, attracts not only vehicular and foot traffic, but honey bees, bumble bees and hummingbirds. It's basically a tower of bees when it blooms. 

The one in our yard is about eight feet tall. Honey bees, eager for the nectar and pollen, keep creating traffic jams. If you sit and watch them, you'll see them constantly bumping into one another as they forage for food.

No wonder it's a favorite of beekeepers.

The species, a biennial, is native to the Canary Islands. It's endemic to the island of Tenerife. 

Last year several towers of jewels bloomed near Storer Hall on the University of California, Davis campus, and a couple of others graced the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, about a mile west of the central campus.

The UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery sells these at their plant sales, but they go fast, says Ellen Zagory, the arboretum's director of horticulture. "We don't have any left," she said. 

No wonder. 

Honey bee foraging in a tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging in a tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging in a tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee gets down to business.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee gets down to business. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee gets down to business.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Upside down honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Upside down honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Upside down honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:17 PM

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