Wednesday, May 30, 2012


One of the distinctive wildflowers blooming now is beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis). Native to eastern North America, these plants can grow up to about waist height and have clusters of tubular white flowers. The plant is named for the long, bristled stamen that protrudes from the opening of each flower, which has the appearance of a hairy tongue.

Beardtongue is one of several Penstemon species recommended for pollinator-friendly gardens by the Xerces Society. (I reviewed their book, Attracting Native Pollinators, last summer.) When I was photographing these flowers, I noticed that several where visited by small insects that would crawl deep inside the flowers to get at the nectar. I think this may be a sweat bee since it is not very hairy and it has a glossy bluish-green body, but a few other groups could fit that description. I any case it is probably one of the many native bee species.