• A profusion of Pretty Face

    by  • May 19, 2011 • Garden, Plant Profiles, Sierra Foothills, Spring • 12 Comments

    Pretty face, Triteleia ixioides

    Pretty face, Triteleia ixioides

    Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides

    Sunny starry yellow, Pretty Face is sometimes called Golden brodiaea or Golden Stars, and is native to California, appearing only slightly beyond the borders, according to CalFlora. This variety, found on our place and all through the Oakhurst Yosemite area, may be Triteleia ixioides ssp. scabra or Foothill Pretty Face. This pretty bulb first shows up as tall thin stems, early in February.  It blooms in May, one stalk per bulb with an umbrel of 10 or more 1/2 inch wide flowers, up-facing  with a pale green stripe on the outside of each petal that turns rosy burgundy when mature.

    Ephemeral sprouts appear as early as middle of February

    Ephemeral sprouts appear as early as middle of February

    I categorize Pretty face in with the term ephemerals, because they appear seemingly from nowhere, so low-key before they bloom, but when they do, they bloom for the entire month of May. The sprouts appear back in February, you’ll notice when you learn to identify them. I emailed Judith Larner Lowry and Erica Glasner and asked their definitions of ephemerals. Each had her own.  I like the word as a description of our native Spring bulbs no matter how long they bloom or whether they are considered annual, perennial or whatever.

    I hope you enjoy these photos…I was down on my stomach trying to get them…

    The purpley veins cause me to think these are the ssp T. ixioides ssp. scabra. Other varieties are green.

    In early May, they start to bloom in the fields

    In early May, they start to bloom in the fields

    Field of Pretty face, Triteleia ixioides ssp. scabra

    Field of Pretty face, Triteleia ixioides ssp. scabra

    Every year the pretty face bloom all over our land, but this is the first time I’ve photographed them so thoroughly. It has been fun writing this blog– it’s an opportunity to learn a lot more about the plants in our area.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    12 Responses to A profusion of Pretty Face

    1. May 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      What a lovely native! With such a sweet common name. Even though it’s not native to Washington, I wonder if it will grow here…Thanks for the great photos.

    2. May 21, 2011 at 7:05 am

      I remember when we first came to the foothills I was amazed at the profusion of “wildflowers”. I had a Peterson Field Guide and started to I.D. what I though we’re native flowers, only to find out that most of the flowers we see blooming on our hillsides we’re imported from Europe on the hooves of cattle. When you do come upon true native’s, like you have, it’s a joy. People want to plant native wildflowers, but they come into the nursery in spring looking for seed. The better time to plant is in fall, so the winter rains will water your new plants. That’s our challenge here in the dry, foothills. Convince people that fall is in many way’s a much better time to plant wildflowers around here. Thank’s for crawling on your belly for these shot’s. It was worth it.

      • May 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

        Thanks, Trey. Coming to the foothills to garden was a whole new ball game from suburban SoCal cottage gardening. I embraced it, with help from a fine nursery, Intermountain Nursery in Prather and am learning about all the natives we have here on our plot. I’ve been logging them in the 45 Existing Natives tab, and realizing how fortunate we are to have them, especially these Pretty Face. Geeky fun. The next natives to bloom will be the Elegant Brodiaea. I’ve also enjoyed planting a CA native meadow (last fall) which involves a lot of weeding, but so worthwhile now that it’s blooming.

    3. May 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Sue I don’t know which I love more the buds or the blooms..what a lucky person you are to have this as a native growing so profusely…

    4. May 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm

      Alison, thanks! Maybe if they had good drainage, you could grow them. These nearly grow in gravel, decomposed granite.

      Donna, aren’t they beautiful? I spent the day weeding around them….getting rid of the non native weeds to allow more natives to grow.

    5. May 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Oh, I must first compliment you on your wonderful eyeball to eyeball pictures, Sue…and say how much I appreciate knowing you went all out (flat on your tummy!) to get these beautiful pics…such a pretty flower and to see a whole field of them, how lovely!

      • May 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

        Thanks, Desiree! I *do* appreciate them, actually as I weed more and more, I’m *thrilled* to have them prosper and thrive against the non-native weeds being removed! Fun!

    6. May 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      Soooo beautiful, Sue! How lucky you are to have such a profusion of these natives growing on your property! I bought one from Annies Annuals a couple years ago, and it has bloomed reliably every spring so far, but it’s pint-sized compared to all of yours!

      • May 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm

        Thanks, Arleen! I guess this must be their home territory. It’s been so fun to catlog the natives here and this year, because of the blog, I’m paying so much more attention….and taking more photos. I think you’re in an area where you could have fun doing this, too!

    7. May 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      I purchased a few bulbs of one of the subspecies of this plant many years ago and the little yellow blooms in unlikely places always come as a surprise. I haven’t seen any yet this year. Either they’re late or…the gophers got the last of them. Thanks for the photos. I’ll have to scan the parts of the garden where I remembered seeing these plants and hope that a couple were spared.

      • May 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm

        James, I’ve had good luck transplanting these when they pop up in a path. I’d like to learn to lift, dry and pot up some to share and also for winter-early spring patio pots. Fun! Anyone who’d like to try some, can email me. (on the about page)

    8. Pingback: Light reflected by elegant brodiaea | Sierra Foothill Garden

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