Category Archives: Pollinators

Burdock for goldfinches

I’ve written a series of articles in 3 parts “Fuglevennlige planter i hagen” (Bird friendly plants in the garden) for the magazine of our national bird society (NOF, now Birdlife Norge) called Vår Fuglefauna (Our Bird Fauna). The first part (6 pages) has already been published (the first two pages are shown below; deliberately blurred text (below). 
My most successful plant (genus) supplying bird food in winter has been various species of burdock / borre (Arctium spp.). The oil rich seeds are very popular with goldfinches (stillits) and greenfinches (grønnfink). This autumn I cut a few plants growing in a different part of the garden and moved them in full view of my kitchen window which allowed me to film a flock of 11 goldfinches yesterday (see below). In the summer, the same plants are popular with various pollinators and for that reason also provide food for other insectivorous birds in summer.



The article will also be published for members of Norwegian Seed Savers’ guild for “Insect and Bird Friendly Plants” in a few months from now. This guild works focuses on plants that are beneficial for maintaining a garden rich in a diversity of insects and birds, whilst still providing food for us!


Dystaenia heaven

Along with many members of the Apiaceae (carrot family / umbellifers) the flowers of Dystaenia takesimana (Giant Ulleung Celery) are heaven for pollinators like hoverflies (blomsterfluer).
These great edi-ento-mentals thrive both in sunny conditions and in the complete shade of this Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush / sommerfuglbusk).
For more on this great multi-purpose plant, see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=24998

Temnostoma vespiforme

Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to document as much as possible of the incredible diversity of insects and spiders that are living in The Edible Garden. For many years I’ve noted and reported the birds I see in the garden. COVID gave me the opportunity finally to have time to look at the other life forms that I live with and it’s been quite a journey. I have a separate blog post on the moths (approaching 170 species) and I often post pictures of various pollinators on my edible plants (notably bees, beetles, wasps and hoverflies); edible plants that attract pollinators I term edi-ento-mentals (the most valuable plants are those that both provide food for me and the pollinators, and are also good to look).
I initially thought that the latest hoverfly to be documented was a large wasp, but it turns out to be Temnostoma vespiforme (Ginger or wasp-like tigerfly / vepsetreblomsterflue). It was feeding on Heracleum sphondylium (common hogweed / bjørnekjeks). The first record for Malvik kommune and only scattered finds before in this area. Larva of this species feed in decaying wood of deciduous trees.



Bee beetle

One of my favourite insects is the bee beetle / humlebille (Trichius fasciatus). This morning I saw it on one of my favourite onions victory onion / seiersløk (this one is Allium ochotense; the East Asian species – recently separated out as a species). Later I filmed it also on a hogweed (Heracleum spp.).





First seed saved for 2021

You’ll find old man’s beard or tysk klematis in Norwegian (Clematis vitalba) in Italian foraging books as the young cooked shoots are popular there in spring (they shouldn’t be eaten raw). There’s a very narrow time window for harvesting this, so I seldom eat much of it. However, it doubles as being an exceptoionally popular plant for pollinating insects (hoverflies and drone flies in particular) when it is in flower for a long period from late summer to autumn when there are few other flowers out.  lt cilmbs up onto my balcony which makes photography easier!
I started this from seed collected on the chalk downs of Hampshire (in the area where I grew up) about 25 years ago. 

Keeled garlic, a useful winter Allium and edimental in summer

There are Allium species that can be harvested year round in the garden, notably nodding onion / Norw:prærieløk (Allium cernuum) which I’ve blogged about before. In autumn, new shoots of Allium carinatum subsp. pulchellum (keeled garlic / Norw: rosenløk) appear and with the mild weather we’ve been experiencing they’ve already reached about 20 cm high. They are hardy and can survive to at least -20C. It’s now in the autumn that this edimental Allium is most useful. I use the shoots in a similar way to chives (Allium schoenoprasum), which died back some time ago and won’t reappear until spring (unless I force them indoors), in salads, cut and sprinkled on sandwiches, in scrambled egg, quiches etc. I use them from October to April.

8. mars: Pizza greens, all harvested outside after most of the snow disappeared during the day. From the top and clockwise; Ficaria verna (lesser celandine / vårkål), Allium cernuum (nodding onion / prærieløk), Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde), Allium carinatum, Allium senescens (or hybrid), Primula veris (cowslip / marianøkleblom), Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard / løkurt) and Taraxacum spp. (dandelion / løvetann)

There are two colour forms, pink and white which are particularly valuable as they last such a long time and are popular with pollinators:

There are also forms with bulbils which can be a bit invasive:

You’ll see the flowers used as a tasty decoration in my multi-species salads (bottom right in the picture):

Allium carinatum is also popular with pollinators: