A Banner Year for Gumweed
With a thermos of coffee and a truckload of buckets, we woke up bleary eyed and much too early this morning, heading out to the gumweed field for our annual harvest, only to discover... it's still in full bloom.
While the more water stressed plants along the road are starting to set seed, our plot is still going strong, humming with the last of the season's bumble bees (mostly Bombus bifarius), and a few big leafcutter bees of various species that we always see hanging out with gumweed along the coast. (Someday we'll do an entire blog post on gumweed pollinators).
For whatever reason, 2019 has turned out to be a sort of epic year for humble and handsome Puget gumweed (Grindelia integrifolia). It's looked great at many restoration sites we've seen this past year, and along the beaches. The extra cold winter and extended snow days probably had something to do with it.
This beautiful plant thrives where no plant rightfully should, poking out of driftwood in nearly pure sand and shell substrates. It's indifferent to salt spray, it's washed away by winter king tides, only to somehow leave enough seed to perpetually revegetate shorelines, creating sublime mornings, like this one was.