Rocky Mountain Bee Plant


Rocky Mountain Beeplant is native to the western, central, and northern U.S. as well as the
southern prairie provinces of Canada.   It is useful for providing pollinator habitat, as a xeriscape garden plant, and as forb component of reclamation mixes.  An annual with pink to purplish-pink flowers, it can grow up to 5 feet tall in optimum conditions with plenty of moisture.  However, it thrives in dry conditions due to its tap root that can access deep ground moisture.  In these conditions it usually attains a height of only 1 to 2 feet.  Rocky Mountain Beeplant is known by many other common names:  pink bee-plant, bee spiderflower, toothed spider-flower, skunk weed, stink weed, stinking-clover, and Navajo spinach.

The Navajo have many traditional uses for Rocky Mountain Beeplant, known as Waa in their language.  The seeds can be used as food, both intact and ground into flour.  The plant parts provide medicine for fevers and stomach ailments and to make poultices for sore eyes.  Deodorant for body and shoes can be  made from a decoction of leaves, and traditional Navajo weavers continue to use Rocky Mountain Beeplant to produce a yellow-green dye.

Its leaves have an unpleasant odor and taste which make it undesirable wildlife browse.  This attribute can be a boon to gardeners searching for deer-resistant, showy native wildflowers.  The plant readily reseeds itself, but the seeds can also be an important food source for small birds and doves.  The flowers attract bees, wasps, and butterflies.  In the garden Rocky Mountain Beeplant prefers full sun and sandy soil that drains well, but it can also be grown in light partial shade.  It tolerates a wide range of soil pH levels.



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