The empress tree is a large, spreading tree with large leaves. The tree is in bloom now with three-inch long, pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. Empress tree was imported to the United States from China. It was planted in homesites in the Mid-South and escaped to sometimes be found in clusters of trees. Empress tree is the only woody member of one of the important families of bee plants, the figworts or snapdragons, to be found in the Arkansas delta. Most of the snapdragons are wildflowers. Mullein is a snapdragon, as is the obedient plant.
If you click on the photo, you can see the egg case of the praying mantis, a beneficial insect. The egg case is the brown object with fine lines located on the plant’s stem below the closest flower. These egg cases are a welcomed find in our gardens. On this day the empress tree was visited by solitary bees, carpenter bees, and honey bees.