Bees on searocket

In December, I took Alex, my postdoc to Modesto for the Almond Board meeting. Because they funded my research on varroa RNAi, I was asked to be there to report our findings. We took a few days off to visit the Berkeley Botanic Gardens, the Stanford campus and the 17 Mile Drive. On the way to 17 Mile, I spotted Sand City and had a stop to take a look at the pretty ocean.

Right away I saw some strange flowers on the beach (never seem flowers before on a beach!) and wondered if there would be bees…Yes! I got lucky. The flowers looked like in the family of Brassicaceae (old name was Crucifera), but leaves were waxy and succulent, apparently adaptations for drought resistance. I tasted a seed pod and indeed it has a hint of mustard, so I was 90% sure it was a a member in Brassicaceae.

I came home and googled for something like “brassica on beach” and did find the name.

Wiki says:
“The European searocket Cakile maritima in Europe, and the American searocket C. edentula in North America. The genus is native to Europe, Asia and North America, but the European searocket has been introduced into North America and has spread widely on both east and west coasts; in many places it is replacing the native C. edentula, and is regarded as an undesirable invasive species.:

I am not sure if this one is the European or the American species. I suspect it is the latter.
(updated Jan 9. 2012: according to this page, my species should be the European one, C. maritima).
It seems many pretty things are invasive! (the ice plant everywhere there with pretty flowers, is also invasive).

The bright blue sky reminded me a poem by a Chinese poet, Haizi. (He killed himself some years ago, perhaps due to depression). The English was a translation by myself

面朝大海,春暖花开 Facing the ocean,  where spring’s warm and flowers bloom
海子 Haizi (son of sea)
从明天起, 做一个幸福的人 tomorrow on, I be a joyful man
喂马, 劈柴, 周游世界 feeding horses, chopping firewood, and touring the world
从明天起, 关心粮食和蔬菜 tomorrow on, mind grain and veggies
我有一所房子, 面朝大海, 春暖花开 have a house, facing the ocean,
where spring’s warm and flowers bloom
从明天起, 和每一个亲人通信 tomorrow on, write to every kin
告诉他们我的幸福 tell them my joy
那幸福的闪电告诉我的 what that joyful lightening told me
我将告诉每一个人  I will tell every man
给每一条河每一座山取一个温暖的名字 give warm names to every river and hill
陌生人, 我也为你祝福 strangers, I bless you too
愿你有一个灿烂的前程 to have a bright future
愿你有情人终成眷属 to wed the one you love
愿你在尘世获得幸福 to get worldly happiness
我只愿面朝大海, 春暖花开 as to me, I only want to face the ocean,
where spring’s warm and flowers bloom

Translated by Zach 3/13/2011, revised 3/22/2011

1. Facing the ocean

2. Alex misses his family and started drawing on the beach :)

3. Searocket on the beach

4. Closeup of a honey bee on searocket (D700+60mm+internal flash)

5. In flight and with proboscis sticking looks like she was flying and cleaning her tongue at the same time.

6. Foraging for nectar.

7. And apparently also for pollen, a bit darker compared to pollen from canola (the same family).

8. A closeup showing the seed pods and leaves..and my fingers.

Author: Zachary Huang

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