It is now cold in Michigan, with about 3-6 degrees C during the day. I am missing the flowers in the summer with bees humming over them.
But jade tree (Crassula ovata) blooms in our house. I can see nectar in some flowers…but of course, no bees!
I am not a botanist by training…but if I would guess, I would have guessed this plant be in the same genus as Sedum…which has basically identical flower shapes..but they are at least in the same family (Crassulaceae). Honey bees forage on Sedum regularly, I have seen bees foraging on the yellow, red (pink) and white types during summer.
1. Jade tree flowers. The trick to induce flowering is to let the plant stay outside during cool nights. They can do fine with the first frost, then move indoor. After a week also, you can see flower buds. These flowers were taken as photos today, and they have been bloomed for at least 3 weeks now (we came back from Taiwan Nov 27th and they were already blooming..they were not blooming Nov 12 when we left. Moved indoor around Oct 6th).
2• A closeup of flowers. you can see abundant nectar on the flower near the center. I tasted and it was sweet, proving it is nectar, not some other things (e.g. oil).
3. Some flowers are more pinkish…I am not sure which ones are older, the white one or pink ones.
4. The center one with much nectar on the base of every ovule (I assume).
5. I focused on the left one, with pink rings…
6. Now focused on the right one, which is white and has nectar. These two flowers suggest pink might be younger and white is older.
The above were written on Dec 5, 2012. Since then I have actually seen bees on this same flower! I was invited to visit University of California at San Diego by Prof. James Nieh January 25, 2014 to give a department seminar there. We also collaborated on Nosema study after that and obtained a joint USDA grant.
5. A bee visiting the same plant, might be a slightly different variety with petals more pale/yellow than our house one which is whiter.
6. On that day I saw many bees, so I must give it a relative high score for the ZBAS*: 7.
updated March 14, 2023.