Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Seeds (Peritoma serrulata)
Formerly known as Cleome serrulata.
Don’t be fooled by the mountain range in the name, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant occurs across most of the West, including much of the inland Northwest
The other part of the name is accurate however -- this is possibly one of our best dryland plants for…well…attracting a ton of bees. We’ve long marveled at descriptions of this dazzling, gangly plant in old beekeeping books from the past century when it was praised for yielding more than a hundred pounds of honey per hive in under two weeks, building up 2 to 3 supers (surplus honey boxes) per hive over a 3-week period, and supplying nectar with sugar concentrations approaching an impressive 30%.
More than that however, this is simply a fascinating, useful, and joyful plant to have around. Valued by native people for centuries, beeplant or bee plant was noted by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, perhaps standing out for its outlandishly showy pink/white/purple flowers with their elongated stamens, which are nearly always covered in various pollinators.
Bee plant is an annual species that can reach a hearty 4 or 5 feet in height (often with multiple stems), and will tolerate dry, sandy soils, even some drought without much complaint, as well as a bit of shade from nearby scrub or pines at higher elevations. It also grows in harsh soils with concentrations of salts, metals, and minerals where other plants may be less than thrilled to grow.
Bee plant is storied for its many traditional uses including as a cooked vegetable, an edible seed that can be ground into meal or eaten directly. It’s been described as a medicinal plant, and noted for its properties as a dye plant.
In natural conditions Rocky Mountain bee plant might co-occur with blanketflower, blue bunch wheatgrass, plains coreopsis, Idaho fescue, and showy milkweed. Under the best of these conditions it can reseed itself nicely.
2 grams (Approximately 150-200 seeds).