The Pollen Files: Three-Leaf Sumac

28 Mar

Spring is a fickle vixen in the high desert of Albuquerque. Three weeks ago, the girls were feisty and fixin’ to swarm. Last night, the water in their bird bath was frozen.

Never you mind, though, because the pollen rush continues.

Gathering nectar and pollen from three-leaf sumac

Gathering nectar and pollen from three-leaf sumac

Walking past a nondescript bush this afternoon, I noticed it vibrating with activity like a bowling alley on league night. It’s three-leaf sumac (Rhus trilobata), a desert shrub whose glory days come each fall when the leaves turn bright, bright red.

But my honey bees love it now. As it blooms in early spring from tiny pale catkins, they swarm it like the high school wallflower turned ravishing beauty at their 10 year reunion. Rhus trilobata is in its prime.


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