Category Archives: Pollinators

Flowering Aster scaber

September is the month when several Asteraceae are in flower including one of my favourite perennial vegetables and edimentals Aster scaber (yes, I know it’s officially Doellingeria scabra) or chamchwi in Korea where it’s cultivated commercially for Korean markets around the world (often sold dried). It’s also popular with pollinating insects as can be seen in the gallery taken this week here.

….and a parasitic wasp on the flowers:

 

See this page for more links to articles about this plant on this blog: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6080
It’s also one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants.

Buddleja davidii

One of the few plants in my garden which isn’t edible is my large Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush / sommerfuglbusk), a wonderful entomental (loved by insects and an ornamental appreciated by Homo sapiens too!). It is strategically placed beneath the balcony so that I can look down from above. As chance has it, I had also planted old man’s beard / tysk klematis (Clematis vitalba) to climb up onto the balcony. The latter is equally popular with late summer pollinators, mainly hoverflies. So this is one of the best spots for watching and photographing the local insect life. However, after coming into flower 2-3 weeks ago there were no butterflies, but a rare 20C day brought them out and both painted lady (tistelsommerfugl; the first since the bumper year two years ago and only the second recorded this summer in Trøndelag county), red admiral (admiral) and comma / hvit C were out yesterday! But it’s at night that the butterfly bush is covered with pollinators, notably an estimated 200 large yellow underwing moths (hagebåndfly) 

Sweet Gigas stalks

Somebody asked me a few days ago if one could eat Angelica gigas (Korean Angelica) as you can Angelica archangelica (see my book Around the World in 80 plants for more about that). In my book, I do mention gigas as one of several other Angelica species used in other parts of the world, but until yesterday I hadn’t eaten it myself, partly as I¨’ve never had many plants and the flowering is wonderful!!


On the Korean wiki page, it simply states that “dangwi / dangquai’s petioles and tender stems are eaten raw or seasoned with herbs”. The root is also used medicinally along with Angelica acutiloba and Angelica sinensis.
You can find various instructional videos and recipes on Korean pages by searching
For example, the spring leaves and petioles are boiled and served with onions, garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
As my plants were close to flowering (they darken quickly to deep red at this stage), I decided to go for using the flower stems in salad:I first took one of the thicker flower stems…
….and sliced off a bit at the base for a taste! I was taken aback by how sweet it was (flower stems of Angelica archangelica were in the past considered to be candy by Norwegians). This reminded me of other plants that have surprisingly sweet flower stems: Scorzonera hispanica (scorzonera / scorsonnerot) and Arctium (burdock / borre). I assume that as plants like these approach flowering they produce less insect repellent chemicals and transfer their energy to producing flowers and seeds. For the salad, I peeled off the outer layer as it is fibrous and sliced it into the salad.  Young seed pods of sea kale / strandkål were also available as were Scorzonera flower stems and buds.



As with most Apiaceae, Angelica gigas is very popular with the pollinators, so this one definitely fits into the Edi-ento-mental category (delicious, ornamental and popular with the pollinators – what more could you wish of a plant!).
Unfortunately, like Angelica archangelica this species dies after flowering.

Cuckoo wasp in the garden!

I found the cuckoo wasp / rødgjøkveps in the garden today – Vespula austriaca. It parasitizes the red wasp / rødveps (Vespula rufa) by occupying its nest. V. rufa is uncommon in the garden, but I saw one today too. There are no workers of V. austriaca.



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.