And Then There Were Three!


Two penstemons met on a SoCal crest

Scarlet and Purple, each knew they were best

A bee sipped one, flew dust to the other

Scarlet as father, Purple as mother

Bred Violet, classy best in the West.

Scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and

purple or showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis)

are short-lived perennials flaunting exhuberantly flowering

stalks, attracting many pollinators – hummingbirds,

bees (Anthidium illustre is one), Syrphid flies, et al.

Violet is a well-known hybrid (Penstemon x parishii).

These penstemons are great for classrooms and public

events as colorfully clear examples of what happens

when natural hybridization takes place.

The ability of these penstemons to attract pollinators makes

them a beautiful and useful addition to your water-conserving

southern California inland garden.

In the photo: scarlet bugler is on the left, purple or showy

penstemon is at the top, and their violet hybrid,

Penstemon x parishii is center right.

I Said It Was Not A Bee!


Hours searching, red-eyed and teary

Scanning late near midnight weary

Endless screens listing fakey bees

None sporting thick gold thighs and knees

I turned away from wasps and flies

To swarms of bees, with many sighs.

California links not far away

Pointed to a Megachilidae

Bug guide dot net had good clear frame

No doubt now I knew insect’s name

Anthidium illustre bee

Sipping penstemon nectar tea.

Now to bed, satisfied to see

My garden has a native bee.

Good night!

Anthidium illustre on Penstemon spectabilisA. illustre (Megachilidae) on Penstemon spectabilis. The length of this bee is about one centimeter.  Anthidium illustre  (Callanthidium illustre) is a western bee, found throughout California, north to Oregon, Idaho, and east to New Mexico & Colorado. Have you seen A. illustre visiting your garden’s native flowers?