En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - May 29, 2010

From: Santee, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pollinators, Erosion Control
Title: California native plants for a steep slope
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are looking for California native plants for a steep south facing slope that do not attract bees. Can you please provide a list?

ANSWER:

You don't mention erosion control, but I wouldn't be surprised if that is one concern for your steep slope.  Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita specializes in plants native to California and they have an excellent web page with recommendations for native plants for many situations.  You might like to read one in particular, Simple erosion control for a hillside or garden slope, with lists of suggested plants for slopes at the very end of the article.  Unfortunately for you, I think most of their suggestions have blossoms that will attract bees.  Flowering plants need pollinators and many pollinators turn out to be bees of some sort. Bees are not normally agressive unless you disturb their hive.  However, if you are especially allergic to bee stings, I can understand your concern.  You can see a list of plants and the pollinators that they attract in Selecting Plants for Pollinators: A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers, and Gardeners in the California Coastal Chaparral Forest and Shrub Province.  Here are the two plants that appear on both lists and don't have bees listed as pollinators—Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) and Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat).  The "Selecting Plants..." article says that the pollinators are butterflies and moths for the buckwheat, but our Native Plant Database says it's a favorite of bees and butterflies—so you may be taking your chances with it.

Aesculus californica (California buckeye) occurs on the "Selecting Plants..." list without bee pollinators but it's not on the Las Pilitas list. It should work well, however.  Las Pilitas says that it is toxic to non-native bees, but native bees appear to like it—so, again, you may be taking your chances with it.

Juniperus communis (common juniper) on the Las Pilitas list would not attract bees and neither of the two small oaks on their list, Quercus dumosa (coastal sage scrub oak) and Quercus durata, would attract bees.

You can look through our California-Southern Recommended list for other likely candidates.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose criteria important to you.  For instance, you could choose 'Shrub' or "Grass/grass-like" from the GENERAL APPEARANCE category to narrow the list.  Grasses, in general, are wind pollinated and would not attract bees. Here are some attractive California grasses from the list:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Festuca californica (California fescue)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium

California buckeye
Aesculus californica

Common juniper
Juniperus communis

Coastal sage scrub oak
Quercus dumosa

Indian ricegrass
Achnatherum hymenoides

California fescue
Festuca californica

Prairie junegrass
Koeleria macrantha

Smallflower melic grass
Melica imperfecta

More Erosion Control Questions

Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
November 09, 2013 - I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of a...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
January 30, 2012 - What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.
view the full question and answer

Salt tolerant plants for shade on tidal inlet in NY
August 11, 2013 - Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding ...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for sides of retention pond in Willits CA
July 02, 2012 - I am looking for recommendations for ground cover for the outside of embankments which impound wastewater. This is to improve the aesthetics and deter weeds. The slopes are 1V:2H, so if we can avoid...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in West Mifflin PA
November 23, 2009 - I have recently had a retaining wall rebuilt in my back yard and an above the ground pool installed. My lawn is uneven with no grass and the hillside is very dry dirt with rocks. What type of plant ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center