The Beautiful Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, also known as Bee spiderflower, Stinking-clover, or Toothed spider-flower, is a captivating native flower that adds beauty to its surroundings. With its scientific name, Cleome serrulata Pursh, this annual plant is a remarkable sight in the Rocky Mountain region.

A Closer Look at the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant is a tall and erect annual that reaches an impressive height of about 3 feet. Its stunning flowers bloom from July to August and are perched atop long pedicels. These flowers boast four attractive petals, while the stamens extend beyond the petals, giving the spikes a fuzzy appearance.

Dozens of bright pink to purplish flowers are densely packed into rounded or elongated spikes, creating a visually stunning display. The narrow capsules of the plant produce ovoid seeds, making it an interesting feature to observe.

Discovering its Ecological Adaptations

This resilient plant thrives in various environments, including wastelands and lower mountain ranges. While it prefers sandy soil, the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant can grow well in both semi-shaded areas and those without any shade. Its adaptability enables it to survive in a wide range of soil pH levels.

The Medicinal and Culinary Uses of the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

Although the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant holds little value as forage for livestock and wildlife, its charm lies in its ability to attract bees with its beautiful flowers, making it a popular ornamental choice.

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Native Americans recognized the plant’s medicinal value and used it extensively. The seeds of the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant can be harvested and eaten raw or cooked. They can also be dried and ground into a meal, which can be used to make bread or added to other dishes. The plant’s seedpods are also edible when cooked.

Additionally, an infusion of the plant is used to treat fevers and stomach disorders. A poultice made from the soaked leaves is applied to sore eyes, while a decoction of the leaves serves as a body and shoe deodorant.

An Ancient Art: Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Dye

The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant has another surprising use—it can be transformed into a black dye. The entire plant is boiled down to produce a thick liquid that can be used as paint for decorating pottery. The dye from this plant is highly versatile and can even be used to create beautiful paintings.

The young plants of the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant are harvested in mid-summer and boiled to remove the woody parts. The resulting decoction is boiled again until it becomes thick and turns black. This thick liquid is then dried into cakes that can be stored indefinitely. When needed, these cakes are soaked in hot water to achieve the desired consistency for paint.

To further exploit the potential of this dyestuff, the hardened cakes can also be soaked in hot water and eaten fried, offering a unique culinary experience.

Rediscovering Nature’s Wonders

The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, with its distinct appearance and unique uses, is a testament to the wonders of nature. From its stunning flowers to its diverse medicinal and culinary applications, this plant continues to captivate and inspire. Embrace the beauty of the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant and unlock its hidden secrets.

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