If you’re familiar with California flora then you’re likely to know of the Great Valley gumweed (AKA gumplant): the small plant with daisy-like flowers that seems to grow everywhere in the central valley. This hardy perennial makes up for its less-than-appealing looks with many other fascinating characteristics. Who needs good looks when you’re a pollinator hotspot and can grow just about anywhere you please?
During the hot California summer months, pollen and nectar can be hard to come by for our native pollinator species. Most flowering plants have already bloomed and withered by the time summer is in full effect, so what are the pollinators to do? This is where gumweed comes in to save the day! The flowers of gumweed are open for the entirety of summer, providing a pollen and nectar haven for the weary bees and butterflies.
The gumweed isn’t just a provider, it's a survivor. Very little can stop the gumweed from putting its roots down somewhere, as they find a way to make things work in just about any habitat. This plant loves soils of all varieties, whether they are acidic, neutral or basic! It also can grow in nutrient poor soils that almost no other plants can tolerate. The gumweed doesn’t even break a sweat in the hot summer days. In fact, it’s one of very few plants that actively grows in California during the hottest months of the year. Another impressive capability of the gumweed is its ability to grow in shallow soils, sometimes only needing two inches in order to survive! Every superhero, or superplant in this case, has a weakness.The gumweed can survive in most conditions, but shade is a big nono. If you’re looking to grow your own gumweeds then be sure they get ample sunlight to grow big and strong!
Want to see some gumweed for yourself? You’re in luck, it’s just about everywhere! Throughout the central valley and across California’s coast this rugged little plant grows abundantly. Some individuals might still be in bloom, as they have the potential to bloom year round. Most are likely to not be blooming, however, but can still be identified by their characteristic seed pods.