Plants in bloom

Mirrored from

Zachary Huang, 2016


I. This is this year’s (2016) flower report,  updated at 1-2 week intervals. [2015 was here flowering status]

July 9, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis, Rubiaceae) just started blooming. There is a large patch near Cornell and Hatch in Okemos (it likes swamp or wetlands). Being an excellent honey plant, both honey bees and bumble bees are feasting on the beautiful flowers. I expect the bloom to last 2-3 weeks.

July 5, the golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata, Sapindaceae) is blooming at MSU campus. There are 4-5 in front of Natural Science, but my photos were taken near Bogue and Shaw intersection.  Silver leafed bassword (Tilia tomentosa, Tiliaceae) are blooming on the same day. There are 6 trees in the MSU Horticulture Demonstration Garden.

July 3, I finally got some nice photos of honey bees foraging on the leaves of catalpa!

June 22, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Asclepiadaceae) starts to bloom. This is the host plant for the iconic monarch bufferflies but honey bees will forage on them also. Smells nice!

June 18, Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina, Anacardiaceae) started blooming and many honey bees foraging on them. I think the flowers I saw were all females, the species is diecious (male and female flowers on different trees). It seems to provide both nectar and pollen. Poison ivy was also blooming and I waited for 5-10 min each time I go there and saw honey bees, which is good news! I certainly do not want to come into contact with its pollen!

June 16, basswood (Tilia americana, Tilliaceae) is blooming! I noticed that different trees will bloom at very different times. This year we have harvested about 700 lbs of honey so far and they tasted like basswood (extracted July 7th-ish).

June 10th, I saw a tall catalpa tree has flowers already. Not sure how long it has been blooming. Some say it is an important honey plant. Leaves also have extra-floral nectaries but I have to yet find honey bees foraging on them.

June 9th, privet has been blooming for a while, saw many bees on it. Japanese lilac (very late blooming compared to regular lilac) should be blooming now (i took some photos on June 5th, they were just starting) — bees love it too. They smell wonderful.

May 27, black locusts starting to bloom. One of the major honey plants in Michigan and produces very light honey.

May 26, I heard wisteria were blooming at the MSU Hort garden. I have seen honey bees foraging on this flower, but perhaps not important as a honey plant.

May 24, Autumn olive is about 1-2 days before full bloom, i did not see bees on it (perhaps too early for flowers). Bees love it. It produces a lot of dark honey but the plant itself is invasive.  Seeds spread by birds eating the fruits. Fruits are edible and high in antioxidants.

May 16, Lily of the valley is blooming in my back yard. I have not seen bees foraging on this plant (yet). A species of columbine also started blooming, I saw many bees foraging on this flower 2 years back at NC, but did not bring my big camera. My UV camera had a manual focusing lens and it was impossible to catch them foraging on this type flowers (less than 5 seconds per flower). Tulips are almost done.

May 11.  Red buds are in full bloom, i saw many bees foraging on an Asian species, but have seen ONLY bumble bees here. Dogwood, viburnum are also in bloom — I have yet to see honey bees on the large, white-flowered dogwood. . Apples in full bloom (they are a bit behind crab-apples?).  Dandelions have been for a long time.

May 7. Jacob’s ladder blooming in my backyard. Honey bees forage on this flower (again I need to dig out my old photos!). Red bleeding hearts also started. I have seen bees foraging on the white variety in China. My Asian pears have been blooming for a while. Lunaria (money plant, silver dollar) also blooming in my back yard. Have not see bees on it. Forgetting me not also blooming. Have a photo of one bee foraging on it, in Australia. flowers seems to be larger there. Perhaps a different species.

May 6. Red bud and dogwood are blooming.

April 26. Quince blooming and Oregon grape, seen bees foraging on both. but a bit too cold this year.

April 24. Dandelion flowers everywhere!

April 18. Japanese cherry flowers are blooming in the campus.

April 17. Red maple is blooming, I saw some bees (a few looked like honey bees!).   Crocuses are basically done. Pussy willows are in peak bloom, lots of honeybees and native bees.

April 15, Beal botanical gardens: Schilla, a type of aster are blooming.

March 27, Schilla (Siberian Squill), flowers with dark blue pollen was blooming, with bees foraging on them. Lantern rose was blooming also.

March 12, Winter aconite, Adonis, Birch, Christmas rose, skunk cabbage were blooming,  my 2014’s photos of bees visiting them are here.)

II. Here are links to my old posts about various flowers (approximately by their flowing time). I will slowly populate this page with bee plants (nectar or pollen) as time goes by.


  1. Winter-aconite, Eranthis
  2. Eastern skunk cabbage
  3. Crocus
  4. Maple flowers
  5. Japanese cherry blossoms part 1, part 2.
  6. Peach flowers
  7. Grape hyacinth (photos only)
  8. Magnolia
  9. Honeysuckle
  10. Tulip
  11. Redbud
  12. Lilac
  13. Autumn olive
  14. Peonies
  15. Iiris
  16. Smokey tree (Cotinus), photos only
  17. Sumac


  1. Tulip poplar
  2. Bees, on peas
  3. Goji berry
  4. Kentucky yellow wood and Kentucky coffee tree
  5. Corn (photos only)
  6. Beebee tree


  1. Goldenrod (and a tagged bee!)
  2. Misty flower (Eupatorium coelestinum), and a tagged bee foraging!
  3. Ragweed (photos only)
  4. Butter and eggs (Linaria)
  5. English Ivy

III. Flowers under ultraviolet light as a “formal publication” for references on

  1. Huang, Z.Y. (2014) Disocactus ackermannii (Haw.) Barthlott (Cactaceae) Orchid Cactus. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet and visible light.
  2. Huang, Z.Y. (2014) Hoya carnosa Thunb (Apocynaceae) Wax Plant. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet and visible light.
  3. Huang, Z.Y. (2014) Lonicera japonica Thunb (Caprifoliaceae) Japanese Honeysuckle. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet and visible light.
  4. Huang, Z.Y. (2014) Penstemon digitalis Nutt. ex Sims (Plantaginaceae) Foxglove Beardtongue. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet and visible light.
  5. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Luffa aegyptiaca Mill. (Cucurbitaceae) Luffa. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.
  6. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Helianthus maximiliani Schrad. (Asteraceae) Maximilian Sunflower. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.
  7. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Cucurbita pepo L. (Cucurbitataceae) Pumpkin. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.
  8. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Helianthus tuberosus L.(Asteraceae) Jerusalem Artichoke. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.
  9. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitaceae) Cucumber. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.
  10. Huang, Z.Y. (2015) Solanum tuberosum L. (Solanaceae) Potato. Flowers photographed in ultraviolet, visible light and simulated insect vision.

18 comments to Plants in bloom

  • June 3, 2010 – My bees are enthusiastically working the asparagus patch. Their pollen baskets are stuffed with a bright orange pollen. I tried taking a picture but have neither the equipment nor patience as Zach. Bumble bees are also working the asparagus blossoms.(Central Eaton County, Michigan)

  • Zachary Huang

    I was on my way to the MSUFCU today, and saw white privet (Ligustrum, Oleaceae) blooming…very strong smell which can be unpleasant…I have seen bees loving it. Today only saw one bumble bee working on it. Japanese spirea (Roseaceae) also blooming. again only one bumble bee working on it. I had these in my back yard and rarely see honey bees, but quite often bumble bees. Not sure if bumble bees are not as picky?

    I have proposals due June 10th, but flying to China on June 5th…

  • Zachary Huang

    I think I saw Catalpa blooming (Bignoniaceae) yesterday..I have seen bees foraging on these beautiful flowers.

  • Zachary Huang

    just found a cool site…it lists bee plants by state:
    for MI:

  • Blaine Johnston

    I am in Mount Pleasant (CMU) we have: Yellow blossem sweet clover (just started), red clover, alsike clover, ladino clover,raspberries and autumn olive, seems to be a great year for the bees! 06-06-2010

  • June 12, 2010. The Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)has started to bloom in central Eaton County (south central Michigan). They probably started blooming around June 9 or 10, but I first noticed them yesterday. A very showy tree with blossoms that remind one of orchids. References state this tree is a good nectar source with a nectary located in the flower and at the base of the leaf stem where it attaches to the branch. I have been unable to locate a more rigorous statement of its honey potential in my home references. Easily identifed by its large (8″ to 12″) heart-shaped leaf (smooth edge). Probably the largest leaf of any trees found in Michigan. When in bloom, the tree from a short distance looks like it is covered in popcorn.

  • I was gone to China (June 5-26), and missed most of the basswood here. Still a few flowers though, although most are seeds already.

  • Doug Krepps

    Spotted knapweed (centaurea maculosa) almost finished blooming.
    Field thistle (cirsium discolor) will start any day now.
    Queen anne’s lace (daucus carota) just started bloom.

  • Pietrantonio

    Hi I am Pietrantonio Costrini, typing from Italy. I am pashionated in beekeeping in Italy. For the nex six months I will be in East Lansing at Michigan State University and I would Practince beekeeping during weekends. Is there anybody needing help? I don’t need salary I come for free.

  • Zachary Huang

    Sophora japonica (they call it Chinese locust in China) almost past peak bloom here. usually lots of bees on it. It is a large tree in the legume family.

  • Hygrangea paniculata is in full bloom…lots of honey bees, wasps, bumble bees on it. Saw a similar species in NC at EAS, but slight different (all fertile flowers are hidden inside with sterile ones covering them, so bees have to go inside making it difficult to photograph).

    Mountain mint has blooming for a while.

    bees also working on a hibiscus in my garden.

    the beebee tree at MSU should be blooming soon (if not already so, I have not checked it for a while). A couple of years ago, it was blooming August 21st. It would be humming with honey bees when in bloom. the tree is to the west side of the MSU Art Museum Entrance. ** When I checked August 20th, there are already seeds! they must bloomed 3 weeks early this year…(like very thing else).

  • Doug Krepps

    Goldenrod (solidago canadensis) looks like we are at about 30-40% blooming right now in Saint Johns area. Some of the younger/smaller plants are wilted from the lack of moisture.

  • Nice to see all the flowers from downstate. For a much delayed blooming schedule check out my website for what is happening in my part of the Upper Peninsula

  • In mid June, here in Genesee County, I am seeing my entire lawn filled with white clove. The bees are loving them.

  • Gladys Chandler

    I have an evergreen tree that is infested with some type of black worm, encased with a tree like cocoon. The bees are feasting on them. What is this and how do I get rid of them? They have killed my beautiful tree. HELP

  • Stephen Tilmann

    We doubt that honey bees are feeding on the cocoons. Honey bees feed on nectar and pollen. It could be yellow jackets, wasps or some other type of wasp. You might want to take a sample of the worm to your local extension office and see if they can identify the critter.
    Steve Tilmann, Treasurer
    Michigan Beekeepers’ Association

  • Ben Brown

    In one of my beeyards they were covering the stonecrop bloom in the latter half of the afternoon last week. This has been going on almost two weeks that we noticed. They weren’t bringing in pollen I could see, so I’m guessing they were getting nectar. I’m hoping the cool weather doesn’t end this.

    I just noticed this area on the website. I’ve been trying to take photos and chart the bloom coverage and time since late July here in Kalamazoo.. I wish I had started doing this sooner. Next year…

  • Elena

    Until a few days ago I noticed MANY bees in my garden, collecting nectar. A rare sight in the past few years. But all of a sudden they appeared this year. I left my 6 acres natural specially for them and life in general. I can’t wait to keep bees. I plant many flowers for wildlife.
    Right now, even with colder weather, many flowers are blooming and I see insects daily.

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