Wildflowers in Hercules

by John Sherman Mills
& Donna Lou Petersen
for
Friends of Hercules

 

Wildflowers in Hercules

and the East Bay

 

FLOWERS WHITISH TO PALE

CREAM OR PALE PINK

 

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Bedstraw (Galium californicum)

Madder Family

 

Delicate trailing, perennial plant growing in moist, shady areas of redwood and mixed evergreen forests. Squared stems are encircled by whorls of leaves. Both are covered with rough, stiff hairs with backward “hooks” allowing it to climb easily. Clusters of tiny, white flowers show above foliage in May-July. This native plant found in the broadleaf, redwood and pond areas.

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Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Pink Family

 

Common annual found in moist, disturbed places-- pastures, cultivated fields, grasslands and gardens. The flower is small and inconspicuous with sepals distinct and longer than the petals which are deeply 2-parted. Chickweed reportedly is often used in salads and is even better cooked, like spinach. The succulent greens are a favorite with chickens. This pesky weed is found throughout the woodlands and in the fields from February-October.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)

Carrot Family

 

Perennial, 3-8 feet high with rounded leaf blades 4-20 inches broad. These are divided into three completely separate leaflets and these in turn are deeply cut into several toothed lobes. The base of the petioles is much inflated and clasp the stem. Flowers appear in flat-topped clusters called umbels with a modified leaf or bract below. Flowers April to June producing fruits 1/3-1/2 inch long. When bruised, the plant gives off a pungent and somewhat disagreeable odor remotely similar to that of its relatives, carrots and parsnips. Commonly occurs in colonies on moist slopes, wooded slopes and on coastal bluffs becoming weedy in pastures and along fences. In drier sites, it is restricted to ditches and borders of marshes. This native is common in the riparian area but is found in all communities.

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Wild Cucumber/Manroot (Marah fabaceus)

Gourd Family

 

Another of the native vines, Marah has an extensive root structure which is remarkable for lasting year to year and storing large amounts of water and starch. The above ground vine characterized by tight tendrils clambers over bushes almost smothering them. Each plant houses different genders of flowers, the female plant being identified by the large spiny fruits in June. Leaves are ivy-like 2-4 in. wide. Flowers appear in March-April and are rotate in small racemes about 1/2 in. wide. Philip Munz says the name Marah is an aboriginal name. This vine is found in the broadleaf and redwood forests.

 

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White Fairy Lantern/Globe Lily

(Calochortus albus) Lily Family

 

A dainty nodding flower cluster rises about 1-2 feet above a basal group of 2-6 long leaves. The petals turn together to form a globe and in some places are slightly tinged pink. Found in shaded moist woods flowering from April- June.

 

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Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Carrot Family
The single towering stem (2-10 ft.) is dotted with purple. Leaves are fernlike and very poisonous. Flowers grow in clusters/umbels which are not flattopped and appear in April-August. There is usually no bract at the base of the umbel. Socrates was allowed to drink the poison juice of hemlock to commit suicide. The purple blotching along stems is said to be his blood. Introduced weed common in fields, disturbed areas and along streams.

 

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Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)

Mint Family

 

This alien is characterized by the square stems and 2-lipped tubular flowers similar to all mints. The tiny flower clusters encircle the stem and appear March/June. The gray crinkled leaves appear in pairs along stem which is white and woolly, about 1-3 ft. tall. Widely distributed in disturbed areas, especially common along roadsides and compacted soils. Horehound is found in the broadleaf forest.

 

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Milkmaids (Cardmine californica)

Mustard Family

 

This plant is characterized by a fleshy leaf with a rounded outline that appears with the first fall rains and remains its only sign until the flower stem appears. The flowering stem has mostly pinnate leaves with 3 linear leaflets. The flowers often are tinged pink. The oddly shaped rootstocks are toothed ( Dentari) and used to be eaten raw as a peppery relish. One of the first to bloom, Milkmaids are found in shady places December-May.

 

 

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Miner’s Lettuce (Montia perfoliata)

Purslane Family

 

An annual that comes up each year from seed. Numerous, basal fleshy leaves are good nibbling. The insignificant flowers are held in a bouquet by a lovely green bowl-shaped leaf that encircles the stem. It is abundant in the shady, moist areas, sometimes forming a solid green carpet. Flowers April-July. The Miner’s Lettuce is found in the broadleaf and field communities.

 

 

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Modesty/Yerba De Selva  

(Whipplea modesta) Saxifrage Family

 

Trailing stems with erect flower shoots that are rather coarsely hairy throughout. Leaves are semi deciduous and short petioled. Petals number 5-6 are twice as long as sepals and spreading. Stamens are as long as the petals. The cap separates into 3-5 leathery, l-seeded segments. March-June. The genus was named after A.W. Whipple who commanded a US railroad expedition in 1853-54. Common in the drier parts of the redwood-Douglas fir forest.

 

 

 

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Wavy-Leaf Soap Plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) Lily Family

 

Large basal rosette of wavy-margined linear leaves appear first before the singular stout flower stem appears in mid season. Linear petals are often curled and open in the early evening, closing in the morning. The bulb grows near the surface, and is heavily covered with fibers. Found in grasslands, on serpentine slopes and along woodland borders. Look for soap plant near the in the broadleaf community March-June.

 

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False Solomon’s Seal (Smilicena ssp.)

Lily Family

 

These species are common from Pacific to Atlantic. The perennial herb has thick creeping underground rootstocks with ascending stems that zigzag at each alternating leaf. Numerous star-like flowers appear in terminal clusters, March through June, which mature into red berries. Common in the broadleaf and redwood areas.

 

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Fremont’s Star Lily/Star Zigadene (Zigadenus Fremontii) Lily Family

 

Another plant with basal leaves and tall ascending flower stalk. It has small yellowish white flowers that bear yellowish-green glands near their centers. Each flower is a lovely 3/4 in. star shape with stamens shorter than the petals. Flowers occur March-June. Fruit is a three-parted capsule. Chaparral fires are said to favor their spread and vigor. Bulbs of related species, Z. venemosus, Death Camas, is very poisonous and the bulbs of all zigadenes are suspect. Locally found in the broadleaf and redwood communities.

 

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Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza chilensis)

Carrot Family

 

A fern-like woodland perennial common from South America to Alaska, Sweet Cicely is named for its anise-flavored roots. Stems are 1-3' tall, leaves with leaflets 1-2" long. Flowers are tiny, white with mature fruits, which are linear and beaked. Found April through July in the broadleaf forest.

 

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Hayfield Tarweed (Hemizonia lutzulefolia)

Sunflower Family

 

These annuals have sticky-haired, gray leaves and branches. Leaves are narrow on a 1-1 1/2 ft. plant. There are many heads made of 4-7 ray flowers and 7-10 disk flowers. Each ray flower is long, linear, and 3-toothed, the inner tooth narrower. Inner disk flower anthers are black, giving the flower a speckled appearance. Often entire fields in dry valleys and low hills are white from July to October with this flower. A related plant with the same name is Madia sativa which has white or yellow flowers and the seeds from which produce a nutritious oil. Tarweeds are common in the pasture area.

 

 

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Two-Eyed Violet (Viola ocellata)

Violet Family

 

Of the several violets in Hercules, this one is characterized by its two-eyed petal. It grows from a thick, fleshy underground root stock throughout the coastal mountains in the mixed forest communities. The plant reaches 5-10" with heart-shaped leaves which grow basally or along short branched stems. Of the five petals, the upper two are purple on the outside and white on the inside. The lower 3 petals are white with purple veins on the central petal and the other two each have a single purple spot. These spots give them their name. These purple veins and spots serve to attract bee pollinators to the nectar supply at the base of each flower. Found April through June in the forested areas.

 

 

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Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii)

 

Mint Family

 

This pretty trailing perennial with glossy evergreen leaves is usually smelled first before being noticed. When crushed, its strong mint aroma permeates the area. The small inconspicuous flowers grow singly from leaf axils May-August. It is well adapted to pollination by insects, as all mints are. The lower petals being fused to provide a landing platform. The insect crawls down past the stigmas causing them to fold together avoiding self-pollination. It also is quite common in the moist areas of the mixed forests, but sometimes can be found in open places.

 

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FLOWERS YELLOW TO ORANGE

 

Barberry/Mahonia/Oregon Grape

(Berberis ssp.) Barberry Family

 

This erect and branching shrub has yellow wood and inner bark. The leaves are 4-10" long with leaflets somewhat resembling holly. Leaves are leathery and have spiny margins. Drooping, yellow showy flower clusters appear March-May, maturing into large blue berries with a white blush. Oregon grape is common on wooded slopes of mixed evergreen and redwood forests. It is the Oregon state flower. The bark of Oregon grape was brewed as a laxative, a lotion for skin disorders and a tonic to aid digestion. Barberry occurs in the mixed evergreen forests.

 

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Buttercup (Ranunculus californica)

Buttercup Family

 

From February through June, this slender branching plant produces glossy blossoms, each at the end of a branch. There are an inconsistent number of petals ranging from 8-13 sometimes on the same plant. Bright green leaves are deeply divided and characteristic of this species, usually 1-3" long. Common in the field areas as well as in the broadleaf forest. The juice has been known to cause ulceration of the skin & if eaten, severe intestinal upset

See plant uses.

 

 

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Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Carrot Family

 

This introduced plant has tall waxy-blue cane-like stems 3-6 ft. tall. Leaves are deeply divided into thread-like divisions. Flowers appear throughout May and into October in terminal umbels (clusters). When handled, this perennial produces a sweet licorice odor. Stalks of leaves can be cooked or eaten raw.

  

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Golden Brodiaea/Pretty Face (Brodiaea lutea) Amaryllis Family

 

This plant is characterized by basal linear leaves and a simple stem (6-18") with an umbel of 16-40 flowers at the terminus. Each yellow petal and sepal has a black purple line on the outside. Stamens are yellow with 3 being tall and 3 being shorter. Flowers late spring May/June. Widely distributed in open dry ground, oak woodland, broadleaf forest.

 

 

 

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Mule Ears (Wyethia glabra)

Sunflower Family

 

Only a little imagination is required to see the large, erect, basal leaves as mules’ ears at attention. These perennials have stout woody roots, tufts of large oblong to oval green leaves with rounded basal portions and stems 1-2 ft. taller with smaller alternate leaves. They are only slightly hairy. The flower heads are 2"- 4" wide, yellow with both ray and disk flowers yellow and appear in March-May.

 

 

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Mustard (Brassica ssp.)

Mustard Family

 

It is easy to recognize these flowers as a family with their cross shape petal arrangement and their mustard-like odor and juice of the stem. Recognizing the genera however is difficult without the seeds. These plants fill fields and orchards signaling spring with their bright color. The flowers are scattered thickly along the branching stems, which may be 1-6 ft. tall. Flowering may start as early as January and continue into the summer in irrigated fields. As the flower fades the seed pods predominate the lower part of the stems. Leaves are clasping although some actually resemble Wild Radish in appearance. Many people gather the young leaves as greens. They are high in vitamin A, B and C. The seed, of course, is the source of mustard spice. The early missionaries used to spread the seeds to mark trails from one mission to another along the coast. Used by the forest service to control erosion on burns. Introduced, this annual is typically found in fields and disturbed areas.

 
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Pineapple Weed (Matricaria

matricariodes) Sunflower Family

 

The many tiny disk flowers grow in a cone-shaped head, shaped somewhat like a pineapple. They have a strong fruity odor. This tiny plant often carpets roadsides and fields with greenish-yellow from March- June. The leaves are strongly divided pinnately.

 

 

 

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California Poppy (Eschscholzia

californica) Poppy Family

 

The four petals are fan-shaped, large and brilliant orange, yellow and rarely white. Opening in bright light, they are often closed on a cloudy day. Leaves are divided finely and are gray-green with tinges of red in young plants. Blooms late spring and again in summer. Calyx shaped like a tall cap and falls off as the bud opens. The fruit is a long slender capsule with many tiny seeds subtended by a flange-like double rimmed disk called peduncle. Found in many communities throughout the woodlands.

 

 

 

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Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius)

Sunflower Family       

 

This perennial is tall and erect with fleshy tap root and entire clasping grasslike leaves. Commonly found with its purple counterpart this Salsify is yellow. It is commonly known for its large brown seed head about 3 in. across that looks like a huge dandelion head. Bracts around the flower head are much longer than the ray flowers. The plant was brought by early setters as the root makes a good vegetable tasting like parsnips and should be used before the stalk flowers. Indians used the milky juice by coagulating it and then chewing it like gum. Juice was considered a remedy for indigestion. Found in fields and riparian areas.

 

 

 

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Pacific Sanicle/Gamble Weed (Sanicula crassicaulis) Carrot Family

 

Small erect perennial with hollow ribbed stems that are smooth. Its few leaves are maple-shaped, 1-3" wide and as long, typically with spiny margins. Flowers are tiny, yellow and in clusters (umbels) subtended by leafy bracts. Common in shade of woods and brush and in many communities from February through May.

 

 

 

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Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)

Primrose Family

 

A sprawling well branched alien, Pimpernel is common everywhere and is readily recognized by its orangish colored petals about 1/3" across. The petals are barely joined at the base, often with a darker color band. The stamens occur opposite each petal. A blue variety is also found. Small leaves are opposite and entire. Found March through September in the field area as well as scattered throughout disturbed areas and refuse sites from the gardens.

 

 

 

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Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus/Diplacus aurantiacus) Figwort Family

 

This evergreen shrub has woody, branched stems with opposite narrow dark green leaves. These thick, sticky leaves give the plant its name. In the summer the entire plant is covered with bright orange tubular flowers. The flowers are funnel shaped with two lips, the upper one slightly longer than the lower. This flower is quite sticky and the stigma is two-lipped. The lips close when brushed against to stop self pollination. One of the commonest shrubs of the dry chaparral and coastal scrub communities. It occurs in the broadleaf forest, at the pond area and within the chaparral from May-September.

 

 

 

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Coast Suncup (Camissonia ovata)

Evening Primrose Family        

 

Notice the inferior ovary characteristic of this family. What looks like a stem holding the flower is actually the elongated flower tube, while the ovary is situated underground beneath the basal rosette. The leaves are wavy-margined, oval blades on long petioles. The stigma is capped. The flowers are 4-petalled and known to open in the direction of the sun and follow the sun’s track all day. Common in open fields throughout the region from March through June. Locally prominent along the meadow trails.

 

 

 

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Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis)

Sunflower Family

 

This introduced member of the Thistle Tribe of plants characteristically has long spines extending from the flowers head. As the plant dries the prickles remain and the winged bracts become hard. Leaves are linear and extending down the stem. The leaves are not spiny edged but are attached by their midrib along the stem for part of their length, giving the stem an angled appearance. The basal leaves are divided; leaves and stem are covered with gray cottony hairs. Well branched plants stand 1-2'. tall and occur in disturbed area from April through January. This terrible weed is spreading and ruining valuable agricultural and grazing land. This weed is found along and in the meadows and in places in the chaparral.

 

 

 

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Redwood Violet (Viola sempervirens)

Violet Family

 

This violet is a short-stemmed, creeping plant with heart-shaped leaves in a basal whorl. The tiny flowers are yellow with purple veins lining the lower 3 petals. This species is evergreen as the name implies. Found in deep forests, mostly under redwoods in March-July.

 

             

 

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                 FLOWERS PINK TO

ROSE TO RED

 

Bee Plant  (Scrophularia californica)

Figwort Family

 

Rank perennial 3-6' tall. Foliage attracts more attention than the many, tiny maroon flowers that bees like. Flowers have fused petals forming a cup with the 2 upper lips extending outward. Leaves are opposite, 2-4" long, toothed and grow along a square stem. Moist areas in brush and woods; many communities February-July.

 

 

 

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Clintonia (Clintonia andrewsiana)

Lily Family

 

Most of the year it can be identified by its large glossy green basal leaves. In late spring large clusters of trumpet shaped flowers top a tall stem which can reach 2ft. The flowers ripen into dark blue berries.

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Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Figwort Family

 

Widespread but not abundant, this pretty perennial plant has long been a garden favorite. Petals are a prominent feature, each formed into a tube (nectar spur) projecting backwards from the stamens. Stem rises 1-3 ft. and is leafy, the leaves with many rounded leaflets. Nodding scarlet flowers with the stamens and petal bases of golden yellow hang at the outermost tips of the branches. The name comes from Colombo, Dove, the flower like a cluster of 5 doves. Found in moist wooded slopes.

 

 

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Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa

var. villosa) Mint Family

 

Leaves are aromatic when crushed. This perennial has many small mint type flowers grouped into pink to lavender heads surrounded by bracts, with one head at the top of each 8-12"  stem. Bracts are usually darker than the flower color. Found in moist places in many communities.

 

 

 

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Red-stem  Filaree/Storksbill (Erodium circutarium) Geranium Family

 

Leaves of this alien are twice pinnately divided into narrow sharp-pointed lobes. Sepals have 1-2 bristles present at apex and the claws of the petals are fringed with tiny hairs. Recognized by its long beaked seeds (3/4 -2 in.) which coil when dry. They attach themselves to clothing and animal fur by which they get scattered widely. When the mature coil gets moist, it untwists , actually screwing itself into the ground. A good food for grazing animals and all species are useful for greens, cooked or raw. Common on Hercules’ hillsides, fields, and pasture lands.

 

 

 

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White-Stem Filaree (Erodium moschatum)

Geranium Family

 

Similar to the above species, except for the color of the stems. Its leaves are pinnate with oval leaflets in slightly unequal pairs and toothed. Seedpods are relatively short. Claws of the petals are glabrous and the sepals lack bristles. Flowers February-May occurring in field and riparian areas.

 

 

 

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Wood Mint (Stachys bullata)

Mint Family

 

Coarse weedy perennial along roadsides characterized by rough and hairy leaves and stems.  The mint flowers may be bright  pink to lavender, streaked and speckled with darker shades March-May. About 6 flowers appear in each whorl near the top of the square stem, occurring about 1/2-1 in. apart. Common in moist areas of the evergreen and broadleaf forests in Hercules.

 

 

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Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

Dogbane Family          

                                                                   

 

The erect stems have ascending pairs of long broad lance-like leaves. It is found occasionally in damp places, even where there are deserts. Small bell-shaped flowers occur in cymes scattered along the stem. Found in the field area, flowering June/July.

 

 

 

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Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)

Figwort Family

 

Leaves usually lobed, thin, rough-hairy. Corolla green with red margins, its upper lip to 1" long, its lower lip short, hidden within calyx. Small rather dense flower clusters appear along stem among brightly colored, usually scarlet, bracts. The leaf bracts are 4 or 6 lobed and long and narrow. Leaves are variable but narrow with 2-6 short lobes or simply linear. Many species are parasitic on roots of other plants. Common on dry brushy or wooded slopes of the broadleaf forest March-August.

 

 

 

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Indian Warrior(Pedicularis densiflora)

Figwort Family

 

This woodland plant is noted for its red-purplish flower spikes that frequent the shade of shrubs. Flowers are tubular in shape and have a stout straight upper beak and a lower lip of 3 small lobes halfway back from the tube. Leaves are pinnate, almost fernlike in appearance and mostly basal, although some smaller ones do occur along the erect stem. Common throughout the broadleaf forest.

 

 

 

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Pacific Pea (Lathyrus vestitus)

Pea Family

 

Variable, the stem is low or climbing by tendrils to 3 ft. Leaves in leaflets 6-12, 1/2-1" long, are gray-green and hairy. Each leaf has a stipule at the stem that is large and triangular with wavy margins. Flowers are many in racemes and irregular in shape. Banner petal is the upper half with wing petals at the side surrounding the keel petal which is actually 2 petals fused to one. Common in wooded and brushy hills throughout the area. Blooms February-June.

 

 

 

 

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Purple Owl’s Clover (Orthocarpus  densiflora ) Figwort Family

 

Annual with alternate leaves, usually lobed. Corolla has a short stubby upper lip and a large lower lip with 3 pouches. The upper lip is heavily bearded and hooked at the tip. Hidden beneath the showy flowers are the small leaves, each divided into several small segments. Owl’s clover is bee pollinated. Its purple color is due to anthocyanin which fades if picked. Locally found in open grasslands.

 

 

 

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Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

Oxalis Family 

 

Clover like leaves are sun sensitive. Solitary flowers grow on small stalks; 5-petalled with whitish center, petals turning white to deep rose with age. Blooms February-September.

 

 

 

 

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Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata)

Purslane Family

 

A rather inconspicuous plant until the sun comes out, this plant grows low and spreading. It is one of the first plants to flower starting in February. Its bright rose-red purple flowers open with the sun and several appear on each leafy branch. There are two sepals and five petals but the flower can be quite variable with respect to size. The typical variety is native to Peru. It can be considered a pot herb as its juicy herbage is tasty in salads or cooked. Indians ground the shiny black seeds to make pinole. Often found in cultivated fields and meadows;especially abundant in wet years.

 

 

 

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Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)

Primrose Family

 

A beautiful perennial arising from a fleshy root with leaves in a small flat rosette. The broadly oval leaves have abruptly tapering petioles. The flower stalk is single and leafless, 9-14" tall ending in a loose cluster of rose-purple flowers. The corolla is reflexed upon its tube with the long lobes projecting backwards. The stamens are erect around the style and purple. Found on open slopes and in woods with especially large concentrations occurring near small intermittent creeks. Found in the Broadleaf forest from early February through April.

 

 

 

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Pacific Starflower (Trientalis latifolia)

Primrose Family

 

Small whorl of leaves atop a slender stem. Star shaped flower, 1-4 tiny pink, appear growing at the center of the whorl. The Starflower resembles the Trillium although it is thinner with smaller leaves. Blooms March-June. Commonly found within the redwood and mixed evergreen forests. Often completely covers an area with pink flowers.

 

 

 

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Giant Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum)

Lily Family

 

Unusual member of the Lily Family, Trilliums have netted/veined leaves. Three large green leaves grow whorled around a stout unbranched stem just below the single three-petaled flower. As they mature, they darken to a deep red-purple. This maroon color is common only of the population in the central part of the Coastal Range. The more northern flowers are often tinged with green and are the reason the species is called chloropetalum, meaning “green petal”. It is usually found on brushy woody slopes from February through May.

 

 

 

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FLOWERS BLUE TO

VIOLET

 

Blue Dicks/Wild Hyacinth (Brodiaea pulchella)

Lily Family

 

Flower stalk is 1/2-2 ft. tall and naked with tight cluster of violet-blue flowers at the ends surrounded at the base by small purple bracts. Basal leaves are about a foot long. Stamens appear in 2 unlike rows totalling 6. (Dichelostema pulchellum is another taxonomic name this species may be found under.) Common on grassy slopes and in brushy places or wooded areas February-May.

 

 

 

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Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

lris Family

 

This is not a grass at all, but an Iris. It is also similar to the Lily Family with its flower parts patterned in threes. The important difference is that the Lily has a superior ovary and in the Iris, it is inferior. Also, Iris have only 3 stamens while the Lily has 6. The flower is actually dark purple with yellow “eyes” in the center. Flowers appear singly on short stalks in February through May. The petals (3) stand up, while the sepals (3) stand outwards or down. Long slender leaves clasp the stem and disappear in the grasses surrounding it. Common in open meadow areas, often associated with oak woodlands.

 

 

 

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Blue Witch (Solanum umbelliferum)

Nightshade Family

 

Common, somewhat shrubby, erect native with slight pubescence on stems and leaves. Leaves are slightly oval and pointed, 1-3" long. Flowers blooming January-September. Flowers are 1/2-1" wide, saucer-shaped with shallow lobes. Pairs of greenish glands are near the base opposite each of the lobes. 5 erect yellow stamens are in the center. Found on dry, rocky slopes in chaparral or in open areas of oak woodland.

 

 

 

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Douglas’ Iris (Iris douglasiana)

Iris Family

                                                                       

A wide variety occurs in this species. The petals and sepals may be lavender or blue, cream or pinkish white, sometimes striped with yellow or veined with purple. The plant itself grows to 2', forming large colonies on open coastal hills. This Iris also frequents the woods and forests, usually appearing in the creamy colors. Flowering February-May.

 

 

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 Hound’s Tongue (Cynoglossum grande)

Forget-Me-Not Family

 

Stem 1-3' tall is not hairy. Leaves are lance-shaped, 3-8" long with long stalks, and hairy beneath. The flowers appear in loose coils February-May. The five blue petals are united and the throat of the tube shades to pink lavender and is ringed with white crests. The bud appears pink changing blue with age. The fruit contain 4 nutlets covered with barbed prickles, forming a bur which is easily dispersed by animals. Common in moist woods of the broadleaf and redwood habitat.

 

 

 

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Ithuriel’s Spear (Brodiaea laxa)

Lily Family

 

Largest and best known of the Brodiaeas. The flowers grow in  loose umbels from April-June. There are many flowers each growing on a short bent peduncle facing upwards.  Usually 8-30 flowers in each umbel. The petals and sepals are blue-violet, the ovary on a long stem. Common to the broadleaf forests.

 

 

 

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Lupine (Lupinus ssp.)

Pea Family

                                                                        

Lupines are common and best known of the state’s wildflowers. They grow in colorful masses with many other wildflowers depending on the area. It is usually difficult to determine species. All have palmately compound leaves with five to many leaflets. Flowers grow in whorls on the stem. Both annuals and perennials occur. The shape of the petals is very characteristic.The upper one is called the “standard” or “banner”, and covers the other in the bud. Two side petals are called “wings” and the bottom petal, “keel”, is actually two fused petals. Hiding inside the keel are 10 stamens. The ovary is superior and one-celled. The pod is two-sided with many seeds and is called “legume”. Common members of this group include peas and beans as well as clover, vetch, alfalfa, etc.

 

 

 

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Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Sunflower Family

Thistles are the most common of the Composite, or Sunflower, family. Many are lovely and showy, but are considered pests because they are so prolific. Prickles are prominent on the leaves and involucres. Very common, erect stout plant, 3-7', having pinkish purple flower heads 2 in. across, with spines on the bracts 1-1 1/2" long appearing May-July. Flower head made up of tube-shaped disk flowers only. The shiny, notched green leaves are large, 12-18" long by 6-12" wide, veined with white and prickly. Many airborne seeds are produced and carried by the hairy tip of fluff at the end of each seed, as in Dandelion. This introduced weed takes over along roadsides, old fields and hillsides.

forest.

 

 

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Periwinkle (Vinca major)

 Dogbane Family

 

Herbaceous, perennial that is native to Europe. It is commonly grown in the garden where it is a wonderful ground cover. It has escaped to moist, shady areas, growing under redwoods. Leaves are dark green and oval in shape and grow opposite along stem. Habit is vinelike, growing from central cluster. Purple flowers are 5-lobed and joined into tube at base. The petals are almost pinwheel-like in their arrangement. They are attached by long, slender petioles. Flowers appear in March-July. When cut or bruised, there is a milky sap that is exuded. Ancient Greeks used periwinkle for tonic and astringent medicine. In Middle Ages, it was sought after for the spiritual powers it was believed to have held against devils.

 

 

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Purple Star Thistle (Centarea calcitrapa)

Sunflower Family

 

The terminal spine on involucrel bract is about 1/2" long. Leaf bases not curved downwards or fused to the stem. Flowers are blue. See Star Thistle for more details.May-July. Found throughout the

woodlands in all habitats.

 

 

 

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Salsify/Oyster Plant (Tragopogan

porrifolius) Sunflower Family

 

Known for its large tan to brown seed head that measures 3 in. or more across. It looks like a huge Dandelion head, each seed having a fine pappus of hairs attached to it. The flower heads are flat and composed of ray flowers, deep purple to rose, that appear at the tip of a 1-4 ft. hollow stem. The outer rays are larger than those in the center. Each is five-toothed at the tip and has both stamens and pistils. Slender bracts surround the head in one row, and extend beyond the rays. Flowers appear May-July. Also see Yellow Salsify. Found in Riparian and Broad-leaf habitats.

 

 

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          FLOWERS GREENISH TO

                        BROWNISH

                       

Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)

Buckwheat Family

 

Perennial herb with tuberous roots, with stems being somewhat reddish. Leaves are fleshy and mostly basal, with wavy margins. Fruit is a triangular nutlet in pinkish clusters at the top of the main stem. Flowers through May. This urban weed’s leaves make excellent potherbs and stuffings. Its stems, when young and tender, may also be used for pies and sauces as one would use its relative R.hymenosepalus or Wild Rhubarb. Curly Dock is native to Eurasia. Common along streams, drainage ditches, wet fields, and along edges of ponds.

 

 

 

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Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Cattail Family

 

Tall, perennial herb with creeping rhizomes. Unbranched stems are usually submerged at base.The plant stands 3-6 ft. high with long strap-shaped leaves that are nearly flat. The familiar flower spike is divided into male and female halves. The former produces pollen at the top, while the latter produces the tufts of feathery seeds that make up the lower brown half of the spike. Pollen and spikes mature in early summer. Common in fresh to slightly brackish waters along streams and marshes, and along the edges of lakes and ponds.

 

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Horsetails (Equisetum telmateia)

Horsetail Family

                                                                      

An unusual looking plant has flowers occurring at the stem’s tip called a strobilus. This branching plant is rushlike, with creeping, perennial branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The aerial stems may be perennial or annual. They are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The surface of the stems is covered with silica. Probably the most common horsetail growing along streams in moist soil, often in the redwood forest.

 

 

 

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Mission Bells/Checker Lily

(Fritillaria lanceolata) Lily Family

 

Hanging, bell-shaped flowers characterize this common lily. Both petals and sepals are dark purple dotted with greenish yellow, with a dark green line extending through the length of each. 3/4-1 1/2" long.; stem 1-2' tall. On this stem in the upper part there are several whorls of 3-5 lance shaped leaves, most distinct from the large basal leaf at the ground. The plant grows from subterranean bulbs which may be edible but it is recommended against consuming large quantities. Usually found in the shade.

 

 

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Slink Pod/Fetid Adder’s Tongue

 (Scoliopus bigelovii) Lily Family

 

This early bloomer is often missed because of its camouflage. The large oval leaves are pointed at the tip  and have purple blotches on the glossy green surface. Plants usually bear only 2 leaves, but occassionally 3.The flower stalks, each ending in a single flower, becomes sinuous and drooping as the 3-angled fruit matures. The flower is composed of sepals which have distinct dark purple veins and erect, dark purple, horn like petals. The flower has a foul odor which probably attracts flies as pollinators. Found in moist redwood valleys, especially along streams.

 

 

 

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Wood Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)

Rose Family

Grows in shady areas of redwood and mixed ever-

green forests.  A small shrub 2’- 4’ high with slender

stems and fine straight prickles.

Light pink flowers are about 1 inch wide.  In Autumn

these flowers are replaced with red urn-shaped rose hips (Seed cases) May, June, July

 

 

 

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California Rose (Rosa Californica)

Rose Family

This rose is found in the same environment as the Wood Rose, but the California Rose has fuller, brighter rose-colored flower, hairy leaf undersides and decurved prickles.  April, May June

 

 

 

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Cut-leaved Geranium (Geranium dissectum)

Geranium Family

Varies in height from a few inches to nearly a foot.

Has attractive circular deeply cut leaves, and small pale pink flowers followed by beak-like fruits.  Sees spread by wind.  March – July.

 

 

 

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GLOSSARY

 

Annual - A plant that completes the life cycle in one growing season.

 

Banner - The upper, usually larger, petal in a ‘pea type” flower.

 

Basal - Arising from the base of the plant.

 

Blade - The expanded usually flat portion of a leaf or petal.

 

Calyx - A collective item for the sepals, the outermost whorl.

 

Capsule - A fruit that contains two or more seeds and that dries and splits open.

 

Claw - The narrowed base or stalk to some petals. The expanded part would be the blade.

 

Compound - A leaf composed of two or more leaflets which look like leaves.

 

Corolla - A collective term for the petals, the innermost whorl.

 

Deciduous - Falling away, not persistent or evergreen.

 

Disk - An enlargement or prolongation of the receptacle of the flower around the pistil. In the Sunflower Family, it is the central part of the head bearing the regular tubular flowers.

 

Glabrous - No hairs present at all; also used for smooth.

Herb - A plant with no persistent woody stem above the ground.

 

Inferior ovary - One that appears to be sunken in the stem, the flower parts appearing to come off from above it.

 

Keel - In the ‘pea type’, it is the name for the 2 anterior united petals.

 

Lobe - A flower or leaf part that is rounded.

 

Ovary - The part of the pistil that contains the ovule (seeds).

 

Pedicle - The stalk of a single flower or inflorescence.

 

Peduncle - Any of several small stalks bearing a single flower, in an inflorescence.

 

Perennial - A plant that lives from year to year, including those that die back to bulbs in winter.

 

Petal - Usually the showy portion of the flower parts; inside the whorl of sepals.

 

Petiole - The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf.

Pinnate - A compound leaf composed of leaflets arranged along a central stalk; featherlike.

 

Pistil - The seed-producing organ consisting of ovary, style and stigma.

 

Raceme - An inflorescence with pedicelled flowers borne along more or less elongated axis with the younger flowers nearest the axis.

 

Ray - In the Sunflower Family, strap-shaped flower especially in the marginal flowers differing from the central ones.

 

Rhizome - A fleshy, underground stem; often called a rootstalk.

 

Sepal - The outermost whorl of flower parts, usually green.

 

Shrub - A woody perennial plant smaller than a tree and usually with several stems.

 

Stamen - One of the pollen bearing organs of a flower. Made up of filament and anther.

 

Superior Ovary - An ovary that is situated above the sepals, petals, and stamens.

 

Umbel - A convex or flat-topped inflorescence, the flowers all arising from 1 point, the younger in the center.

 

Whorl - Leaves or flower parts that grow from a single location on the stem.

 

Wing - The lateral petal in a ‘pea type’ flower.

 

Illustrations scanned from:

 

Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States: California Oregon,Washington, Leroy Abrams, Stanford University Press, California, 1940

 

How to Identify Plants, H.D.Harrington &L.W.Durrell, Swallow Press, Chicago, 1957

 

 

 

Sources for Flower Guide

 

Edible and Useful Plants of California, Charlotte Bringle Clarke, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, 1977

 

Early Uses of California Plants, Edward K. Balls, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, Caifornia 1962

 

A Sampler of Wayside Herbs, Barbara Pond, Chatham Press, Connecticut, 1974

 

Wild Edible Plants of the Western United States, Donald R. Kirk, Naturegraph Publishers, Healdsburg, California 1970

 

Peterson Field Guides Pacific States Wildflowers, Theodore F. Niehaus, Houghton Mifflin Boston, Mass, 1976

 

Wildflowers of the West, Mabel Crittenden and Dorothy Telfer, Celestial Arts, Millbrae, CA. 1975

 

Spring Wildflowers of the San Francisco Bay Region, Helen K. Sharsmith, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA 1965

 

Plants of the Coast Redwood Region, Kathleen Lyons and Mary Beth Cooney-Lazaneo, Looking Press, Boulder Creek, CA 1988

 

California Spring Wildflowers, Philip A. Munz, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA 1972

 

Flora of Santa Cruz Mountains of California,John Hunter Thomas, Stanford Press, Stanford, CA 1961

 

                 Parts of Flowers