North Coast Gardening | ‘Mattole Select’ is must-have for the pollinator garden – Times-Standard

The term “native” plant is often relative these days, but Epilobium Septentrionale ‘Mattole Select’ is a true native plant of Humboldt County.

Discovered and collected by Ray Collett and Brett Hall of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum in 1982, this hardy yet beautiful perennial is ideal for local gardens, especially those with limited space.

Every year around this time, ‘Mattole Select’ features a mass of brilliant vermilion tubular flowers that hummingbirds simply cannot resist. The foliage is low, mounding, and averages 6 to 8 inches tall. It has a round and compact shape and can extend up to 3 feet or more. It hugs the ground tightly and thickly, making it an ideal filler or native ground cover for small spaces. Since it spreads quickly via stolons, it can be an effective groundcover to control erosion. The foliage is soft and grey/silver. It contrasts nicely with the bright flowers that hummingbirds love.

The best environment for ‘Mattole Select’ is full sun on the coast and partial shade inland. Once established, it requires very little water during the dry months. Indoor gardeners can give it a little water every two to three weeks to keep plants full and fresh.

‘Mattole Select’ is a must for any pollinator garden worth its salt. It feeds birds and bees with an abundance of nectar. It provides shelter and food for many insects.

Another Epilobium is E. canum. It is also a local native plant that behaves similarly to ‘Mattole Select’. It grows up to 3 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide. The gray leaf variety is hardy and sturdier than the green one. Hummingbirds love this one too.

Terry Kramer is the site manager of the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has written a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at

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