California Wild Flowers

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Ample precipitation from last winter (2004-05) brought us a great season for wild flower watching. Some said the best in 50 years. Below are some great places for wild flower watching. Just check out this wonder spectrum of colors I collected! Hope I can be forgiven not being able to spit out the long impressive Latin names for these little guys, but I did try my best to find out what they are commonly known as. Note that most of these flowers are actually very small, measured by merely mms. If I made any mistake in their names, you're more than welcome to correct me via email or forum.


Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve. In Santa Clara County in the Bay Area, above Stanford University. 8 miles of trails, a good place for hiking. First row: Red Maid (Calandrinia ciliata, bright pink, 1 pic). California Golden Poppy (Eschscholzia californica, orange, 3 pix) and California Helianthella (Helianthella Californica, yellow, 1 pic). Oh, that sweet pollen! The next white flower is of Black Berry (Rubus fruticosus, white, 1 pic). The last one is Owl's Clover (Castilleja densiflora, pink, 1 pic).

Indian Warrior (Pedicularis densiflorus, blood-red, 2 pix). The Ohlone Indian romantically believe that each one of these red headdress represent a fallen Indian warrior killed in a battle. The next two are probably Snapdragon (genus Antirrhinum, white/pink, 2 pix). The splendid yellow flowers in the last 3 pix are Common Monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus, 2 pix). They love damp, humid spots.

This ice cream cone-like beauty is Columbine (genus Aquilegia, orange, 2 pix). A favorite stop for humming birds. The two pix are American Vetch of two different colors (Vicia americana, white and pink).

Death Camas (Zigadenus venenosus, white/yellow, 1 pic), the bulb of this plant is poisonous to livestock and human, which is probably how it is named. Next 2 are Larkspur (genus Consolida, purple, 2 pix. another beautiful, yet poisonous flower. It is the number one suspect for cattle lost in the wild wild west). The following 2 pix are Iris (large white flowers, 2 pix).



Golden Gate Park. The first two are California Golden Violet (Viola pedunculata, 2 pix), lovely yellow flower. California butter cup (Ranunculus californicus, yellow, 2 pix). The pedals are so shiny that they look like they have been glazed. Bush Monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus, orange yellow, 1 pic); Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis, yellowish pink, 1 pic, native of Europe); Forget me not (genus Myosotis, blue, 1 pic, what a lovely name).

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata, 1pix); Blue eyed-grass (geus Isyrinchium, 2 pix); Nasturtium of different colors (genus Tropaeolum, 2 pix); Fungus called Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolorm, 1 pic).


Richmond Marina. 1st row: Iceplant of different colors (Carpobrotus edulis, 2 pix, commonly considered an invasive plant). Poppies of various colors (two pix); Daisies (1 pic).

2nd row: Five-spot (Nemophila maculata, pink, 1 pic); Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae, yellow, 1 pic); in the last 3 pix, Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) is attracting Bumble Bees.


Point Reyes National Seashore. On the Pacific coast northwest of San Francisco. A great place for nature lovers: wild flowers, wild life, beautiful grassland, seashore, and beach.

Golden Poppy (Eschscholzia californica, yellow, 1 pic); Baby Blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii, white, 1 pic); Ground Iris (purple, 1 pic); Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora, pink pedals with white venation, 2 pix).

Seaside Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus, pale purple/yellow, 2 pix); Indian's Paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei, red, two pix); Pussy Ear (Calochortus tolmiei, white/purple, 2 pix)

Easter Flower (yellow, 2nd pic); Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa, yellow pedals with white tips, very cute, 2 pix)

California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, CA. Golden poppy is the state flower of California. Decorated by Poppy and Gold Field, the park is a land of gold. Believe it or not, the vegetation of this golden land is extremely fragile. In the last picture, the tire track of trucks driven to set up the wind turbine will be visible for decades. Many plants wouldn't grow back after being crushed. So when we are in a natural reserve, try not to step out of the trails.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica

) is also known as Copa de Ora (Cup of Gold). They do not open when it's rainy, windy, or at night. It was raining hard when we were there. What a pity!

Blue Dicks with colors from light to deep purple (Dichelostemma capitatum, 3 pix). Fiddleneck (genus Amsinckia, yellow, next two pix), although not bad-looking, is commonly considered a weed. Next two are Pygmy-Leaved Lupine and Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor).

Lancaster, CA. Guess where this is. If I tell you it's the Mojave desert, will you believe me? In spring, it's covered with little flowers known as Gold Field (Lasthenia californica). They do make a field of gold.


Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. Known for rocks of various shapes. Flowers in the next two pix look kinda like poppy, but they're called Gold Nuggets. Beautiful. Next one is Owl's Clover (Castilleja densiflora), not yet fully open; Dune Tansy (Tanacetum camphoratum, greenish yellow, 1 pic); the last one is flower of Wild cucumber (Marah fabaceus, pale yellow, 1 pic).


In Jepson Prairie Preserve, a perennial grassland, patches and patches of different colors thrive under the sun. First row: Yellow Carpet (Chrysactinia mexicana, 2 pix, yellow, the name is self-explanatory, our botanist friend call the patches of flowers "pools"); Butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris, 2 pix, yellow/white delicious name, lovely flowers, but not a friendly specie. Lacking of chlorophyll, they live near other grasses to suck carbohydrate from their root); Brass Buttons (Cotula coronopifolia, 1 pic, yellow, tiny but rather cute, a native of South Africa).

More: Fragrant Fritillary (Fritillaria liliacea, 1 pic, white. Fragrant? Thanks a lot! My advice: don't stick your nose too close); Gold Fields (2 pix). Sacramento Pogogyne (Pogogyne zizyphoroides, 1 pic, pink. Sounds local eh?); Lomatium or Indian's Celery (Heracleum maximum, 1 pic, yellow. Favorite food of Native American, who eat their root and make it into powder for cakes); Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba, 1 pic, white).


Napa the wine country. No grape vine in winter, but it was the season of mustard flowers (Brassica juncea).



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