Tuesday, July 25, 2017

1887 - Turkey Tangle Frogfruit!: #9 of Root's Bee Plants

OK, I'll confess, A. I. Root's seed list called it lipia nodelfolia. 

But when I read its alternative common names I could not resist Turkey Tangle Frogfruit! Sawtooth fogfruit (yes, fog...that is not a typo) and plain frogfruit aren't bad for interesting common names, but you have to admit Turkey Tangle Frogfruit wins :-)

I really like the looks of the plant.  The ring of white flowers climbing the bract are fun and look absolutely yummy from a honeybee's point of view, while the low foliage is a good ground cover or edging for a casual garden.  It is really for warmer zones, but I was wondering if I could treat it as an annual.  It is becoming the ground cover of choice in warmer places, working really well in urban areas as it does not need mowing and supports pollinators.   The blog, The Illustrated Plant Nut posted a nice piece on it focusing on how people deal with names.

Back to past opinions, my reading showed that the plant was heralded in 1891 as a ground cover of choice as well.  I wonder why it didn't become more common.  The University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station in 1891 was very enthusiastic reporting the plants did great in Tucson with only 2 inches of rain over 8 months!!  
Sibthrop, J., Smith, JE, Flora Graeca, Vol. 6: p. 43, t. 553 (1826)

I did not find any mention of it for bees before 1900, however.

The next report I read mentions it being fond in moist soils  (?? ) but also dry places. 

The Western Honey Bee: Devoted to the Interests of the Beekeepers, 1918, ...

Lippia (nodiflora), commonly called carpet grass or mat grass, is becoming a prominent honey plant along rivers and in low, overflowed land.
It is a low creeping plant, covering the ground with a dense mass of foliage, smothering out other weeds and grasses and gradually taking entire possession of the ground. When desired it can he destroyed by cultivation. It is being used along the river fronts to protect levees against erosion and is spreading slowly over much of the overflow country in these counties.
Lippia blooms from May until October, yielding a large amount of honey of good quality. It favors moist soil, but may be found growing on dry roadsides throughout the summer. Starts readily from cuttings except during cold weather.

Lippia nodiflora, mat grass or fog fruit, is native to California, and, according to Richter, is the principal source of surplus honey in the vicinity of Sacramento. Three-fourths of the surplus honey from Sutter County he reports as from this source. There it begins to bloom in May and lasts till frost. ... The honey is said to be light in color, mild in flavor, and to granulate readily.

American Honey Plants

Frank Chapman Pellett