Lemonade Berry Bush is covered in Bees! Someone forgot to tell these guys that Valentine’s Day is over~ look at all the love these blooms are getting!
While most of the country is cold and full of snow, ice & sleet events, out here in SoCal the picture is very different. We have some nice temps, yes, but it is dry. Very dry. I set out to see what is in bloom this month in the Santa Monica Mtns. The grass is a crispy tan/gray color. The winds are warm. There has been NO rainfall, so how are these drought-tolerant chaparral plants faring?
Despite the Drought in California, which by some reports is the worst in 500 years, this chaparral plant Lemonade Berry Bush (Rhus integrifolia) is thriving with only 1-2” of rain this winter instead of our 15″ average. It is also blooming, lovely pink blossoms, which though small have not escaped notice of the bees. I am not good at IDg bees, so I can’t tell you which bees came to this bush, just that there were a LOT of them covering the bush and could care less about my presence.
Lemonade Berry is an evergreen shrub that is great for a bird garden. Yes, the berries are edible, and a sort of lemonade can be made from them. Native from Santa Barbara south to San Diego County, Lemonade Berry can grow near the ocean as well as inland, and even surviving in desert areas. Lemonberry is good for erosion control, important on coastal bluffs. The plants are mostly fire proof. In the case of a wildfire, they will be among the last plants to burn. (though some summer watering is suggested for fire areas.) Rhus integrifolia Communities include Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub.
What else is blooming in the Santa Monica Mtns in February? Last year, I was showing you Spring Blooms on California’s Central Coast. Despite this year’s severe drought in Southern California there were some blooms to surprise me. I spied the interesting Bladderpod plant, also known as California Cleome.
California Cleome (Bladder Pod) is a compact nicely shaped plant with yellow tubular flowers, just right for hummingbirds to sip from. The fruits, when dry, resemble paper lanterns with seeds that rattle inside!
California cleome is an evergreen shrub that can handle a variety of harsh conditions such as extreme dry. Isomeris arborea suffers in wet winters, as it does not like to be overwatered. (No problem this year!) Yet, California cleome still loves to grow on coastal bluffs with all the salt spray.
It is visited by pollinators such as Anna’s Hummingbirds and butterflies like the Brown Elfin or the Acmon Blue, though I did not see any pollinators on the bush this day.
Communities for Isomeris arborea include: Creosote Bush Scrub, Coastal Sage Scrub and Joshua Tree Woodland.
So when people ask: Why plant natives? This is one very good reason: What else could survive this year’s California Drought? No matter where you live and what type of weather you are having, you can feel confident that somehow nature will be resilient. Native plant gardens and trees will endure. And wildlife will make it back again despite all odds, soon~
© 2014, Kathy Vilim. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.