Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The Snapdragon Family
One way to choose plants that will be effective attractors to the various species of pollinators is to select members of the important bee plant families. One of those families is the snapdragon or figwort family, Scrophulariaceae. This family is made of a number of colorful plants which make for beautiful natural plantings. Among the snapdragons are Gerardia, false foxglove, Indian paintbrush, blue toadflax, red penstemon, woolly mullein, and speedwell. This family also includes the foxgloves and snapdragons from which Digitalis is produced. The honey bee, through pollination of flowering plants, helps produce some of our important medicines. There is one woody member of the snapdragon family which can be found in old homesteads around the Arkansas Delta. It is the Empress tree shown in today’s photo: a large, spreading tree and a native of China, which was planted in the past and later escaped. Empress tree flowers in April and May. The flower buds are rusty tan husks that remain on the tree through the fall and winter.