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Scrophularia californica

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

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By: E. Azinheira

The effort put into stewarding a native plant habitat in my San Francisco garden has seen the slow but steady transformation of an invasive wasteland into a backyard sanctuary of native plants that attract an entertaining variety of birds, butterflies, insects, spiders, and salamanders!

Over the years, the effort has seen too many losses to remember. Toyan, phacelia, horkelia, snowberry, native plantain varieties, and buckwheat are just a few of the many planting that have been shaded out by a towering Monterey Cyprus in a neighboring yard or out competed by the relentless invasion of oxalis varieties, pellitory of the wall, allium triquetrum and endless introduced grasses that are the stuff of naturalist nightmares.

But one of the earliest wins at the start of the transformation of our garden was California bee plant or California figwort, known by its scientific name as scrophularia californica.

My original small pot, purchased at a plant sale hosted by the San Francisco Chapter of California Native Plant Society, has grown into one of the most prolific plants in the garden.

A perennial herb native to the western United States, bee plant as I like to call it, is found mainly along the coast of California but its full range stretches from British Columbia to Baja California. However, as common as bee plant is along this stretch of land, it is a plant that can easy go completely unnotice