California Figwort / Bee Plant

Scrophularia californica

California Figwort / Bee Plant

Scrophularia californica

Scrophularia californica is a native plant blooming during the winter and early spring as Monarchs migrate through the San Lorenzo Valley. The brownish-magenta flowers bloom on 2–4′ spikes with blue-green leaves. The blossoms can continue for a more extended period, although the blooms are less profuse. It is a strong bee attractant and is deer resistant.

California Figwort or Bee Plant is suitable for your hummingbird and butterfly gardens. It is also the host plant for Checkerspot and Common Buckeye butterfly larvae. Since the Checkerspot butterflies live on this species, it sequesters Iridoid glycosides from the plant, making the larva poisonous and adults unpalatable.

Occasionally found growing in sand, it comes into full glory in heavy clay in sun/part shade. It is not tolerant of the heat but will do fine if given some shade and a few sprinklings of water. Grows best at the bottom of a north-facing slope or near riparian wetlands.

The Figwort pairs well with California Fuchsia overlapping bloom times.

California Figwort / Bee Plant
ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native Plant

Plant Category   Perennial shrub, evergreen
Flowering Time   Spring, winter
Fruiting Time   
Planting Time   
Where to Plant   Slope bottoms, north facing slopes, places with higher than average moisture
Soil and Light   Clay, sand, silt, part shade
Companion Plants   Yellow Monkey Flower, Common Horsetail, Bentgrass, White Alder, Common Buttercup
Wildlife   Birds, butterflies (Common Buckeye), insects