• Summer native discoveries

    by  • July 6, 2011 • Garden, Plant Profiles • 12 Comments

    This spring and summer several plants native to California much to my delight. A couple were known, but have just been correctly identified. All will be added to my list of Existing native Plants, a list of those here before we. It’s a fascinating, educational journey to form this list and very enjoyable.

    Bush Beardtongue, Keckiella breviflora

    Bush Beardtongue, Keckiella breviflora shown here with Elegant Madia

    Bush Beardtongue, Keckiella breviflora
    There is a colony of this CA native penstemon like bush growing behind the mailboxes at the top of the street. it needed to bloom before it could be identified, but looked so much like penstemon that it wasn’t too hard to find. Also called Yawning Penstemon, the flowers are small, one half inch and slender, white or very pale pink with thin pink or purple lines running down them. The entire group is three feet by fifteen feet, has no water and good drainage on a slope. I’d like to try propagating this or transplanting it down closer.

    Bush Beardtongue, Keckiella breviflora

    Bush Beardtongue, Keckiella breviflora

     

    California larkspur, Delphinium californicum

    California larkspur, Delphinium californicum

    California larkspur, Delphinium californicum
    This tall meadow flower is a perennial that is native to California and is endemic (limited) to California alone. It was found in a natural dry slope below the goat shed here on our land. About six feet tall, I also had to wait to see what plant this was; the creamy white flowers look very much any other delphinium, but they have a bit of pink in them.

    California larkspur, Delphinium californicum

    California larkspur, Delphinium californicum with Elegant Brodiaea

     

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens before bloom

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens
    Before it blooms, this low CA native looks like clover when it has already gone to seed. The little ‘pincushions’ at the ends of the short stems each have 10-12 tiny blue star shaped flowers. This is native to California and other states in the West. Luckily, it has no smell, like its unfortunately named relative the skunkweed, Navarretia squarrosa.

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens bloom

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens bloom

     

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens flower

    Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens flower

     

    Four Spot, Clarkia purpurea ssp. Quadrivulnera

    Four Spot, Clarkia purpurea ssp. Quadrivulnera

    Four Spot, Clarkia purpurea ssp. Quadrivulnera
    This tall slender Clarkia, grows throughout the foothills around Oakhurst, North Fork and Auberry in the CA foothills and is called ‘Farewell to Spring’ locally. The delicate lavender cups each have a darker spot giving it its name.

    Indian Rice Grass, Achnatherum hymenoides

    Indian Rice Grass, Achnatherum hymenoides

    Indian Rice Grass, Achnatherum hymenoides
    The sage-colored, wiry foliage and incredibly fine ivory-colored seed heads give the grass an overall light, airy appearance that floats over the surface of the ground. This grass is native to a large portion of the US from the Mid-west to the western Coast of California.

     

    Chaparral Honeysuckle, Lonicera interrupta

    Chaparral Honeysuckle, Lonicera interrupta

    Chaparral Honeysuckle , Lonicera interrupta
    A while ago, I found this viney thing I previously thought was poison oak
    climbing up through the trees. Since starting the blog and trying to ID all the native plants here, I thought it was time to find the name of this one. Searching for vines in my county on Calflora, it was found to be a native honeysuckle, but I needed to again wait for the bloom to make sure.
    Chaparral honeysuckle is a round leaved, opposing leaved native vine with a delicate grey-green color. The leaves are the size of pennies or quarters. It grows under the oaks and pines and twines up into them, with a slender grapevine-like trunk that thickens if it’s cut to the ground. It grows bushier if that is done, of course. The fragrant flowers are a buttery yellow.

    Mariposa Lily, Calochortus superbus

    Mariposa Lily, Calochortus superbus

    Mariposa Lily, Calochortus superbus
    This Mariposa lily was here when we arrived and pointed out by the neighbors as a real prized bulb. After getting  Mark Egger’s name from Katie’s NatureID blog when reading a post on Owl’s clover, an expert in Castillejas and Calochortus, I contacted him and asked if he’d ID my Owl’s clovers and Mariposa lilies, he answered graciously and now I know!  And they weren’t what I thought!  So I am delighted!

    Mariposa Lily, Calochortus superbus

    Mariposa Lily, Calochortus superbus

     

    Speckled fairyfans, Clarkia cylindrica subsp. Clavicarpa

    Speckled fairyfans, Clarkia cylindrica subsp. Clavicarpa

    Speckled fairyfans, Clarkia cylindrica subsp. Clavicarpa
    This is another clarkia, also called Farewell to Spring in this area, distinctive by its height…almost 3 feet tall with a many branched form. Solid pale lavender-pink blooms about 1 inch wide are speckled with fine dots and have a lighter color on the petals at times. The flowers open and close with the light.

    Speckled fairyfans, Clarkia cylindrica subsp. Clavicarpa

    Speckled fairyfans, Clarkia cylindrica subsp. Clavicarpa

    Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii

    Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii

    Tomcat clover, Trifolium willdenovii
    Since this looks so much like clover, but with extra long (2”) leaves, it was easy to ID this Tomcat clover by looking up Trifolium. There is only a small patch here on the place, but it grows along the roadsides commonly.  It would be nice if it takes off here; I like the interesting flower and they are said to attract Buckeyes, orange sulfurs, and anise swallowtails.

    Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii

    Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii

     

    Two bad behavers were also found:

    Klamath weed Hypericum perforatum

    Klamath weed Hypericum perforatum

    Klamath weed, Hypericum perforatum
    I thought this was going to be something.  I thought it might be a penstemon of some kind, growing tall with buds forming up the slender stalk. When it flowered I looked once, then twice and decided tiny flowers looked a bit like St John’s Wort.  Just on chance, I looked up Hypericum in Calflora and sure enough, there it is under the dubious name of Klamath weed. Rats!  It’s a non-native weed, so out it will go. Now I notice it along the roadsides, wouldn’t you know…

    Napa star thistle flower

    Napa star thistle in flower

    Napa star thistle, Centaurea melitensis
    I first noticed this while at an outdoor event in northern California.  I looked down to see why my ankles were being torn to shreds. The star thistle has one of the most vicious set of spines on it that I’ve ever seen.

    Napa star thistle

    Napa star thistle with dogtail hedgehog grass flowering

    So this spring while weeding, I misidentified the seedling for this as Elegant Madia and let it live in my meadow. The filaree had all been eradicated which left a nice clean area for the star thistle to sneak up on me.

    Napa star thistle, Centaurea melitensis

    Napa star thistle, Centaurea melitensis seedling      Very innocent looking, eh?

     

    Napa star thistle

    Napa star thistle, very succulent and healthy

    I waited and watched as it wasn’t acting like Madia as a teenager and when it became a sprout of about twelve inches I became suspicious. This is NOT Madia. When the thistle started to form at the junctures of the branches, I could then look up Centaurea in Calflora and there it was…Star Thistle!  I told Tractor Man that it needs to be  expunged from our little world here.  He’s already a fierce French broom fighter and not all women can say that about their garden helpers.

    About

    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 Summer native discoveries

    1. July 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Fortunately, in my experience, Star Thistle doesn’t compete very well with almost any other plant. It loves bare ground, but seemed easy to crowd out with desirable plant species in our Central Valley garden. I agree though, it’s nasty stuff. Mr. CV discovered he had quite the contact allergy to it when we were eradicating it from our yard. He learned not to wear shorts during Star Thistle abatement 😉 I’m very envious of your Mariposa Lily, and the fact that your Navarretia species has no odor. We have the skunkweed variety here, Navarretia squarrosa, which always makes its presence known when you accidentally step on it!

    2. July 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      I think I have your “Downy Pincushionplant, Navarretia pubescens” here in Otago New Zealand. I think ours might be a little more contact but it’s hard to be sure of size from the images. Not surprising really as we do have masses of California Poppy (and other things) left over from the gold rush.

    3. July 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Clare, right after you mentioned the smelliness of the skunkweed, i went out to crush a leaf. Nothing. Interesting how a similar species of plants can be different. Nice to know that the Star thistle is possible to keep out of the garden. We’ll watch for it!
      Kerry, I’m glad you have some of the best of California, the poppies and a few quail. Nice!
      The Pincushion plant is low, about 3-4 inches high and wide, about 8 -12 inches, I was just relieved that it’s not a ‘weed’, in other words, not an ugly non-native. If something’s all over the place and relatively attractive, like our Dogtail-hedgehog grass, I don’t mind if it a non-native. Sorting these out is a fun challenge!

    4. July 8, 2011 at 10:54 am

      Eina (ouch)! Thistles are not welcome in anyone’s gardens. We have a dreaded thorn in SA known as a dubbeltjie (it’s an Afrikaans word) or Devil’s Thorn. It’s incredibly painful if you stand on one, but to see these low growing plants in flower, you’d never guess how vicious the thorns are.

    5. July 9, 2011 at 7:04 am

      I have an acre of that star thistle! We managed to eradicate it for one year by discing it in March before it went to seed, but it is back this year with a vengence. I just found your blog from the wonderful publication you girls put out, what a joy to read! I am in Northern California near Shasta and trying to make an orchard up here. Loving my life right now and plants are a big part of that!

      • July 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

        Desiree, I guess we each of us have our bad actors in the garden…

        Hi Ferne, Wow! An acre! That’s pretty daunting. We have poison oak that was that bad, and still is down on the lower….we have seven acres and are slowly grooming around the trees. I’m so glad to ‘meet’ you. I think we’ll have a lot of the same experience weather and growing condition-wise.

        Glad you like the FMG page…the people there make it fun! Next time you’re there, where it says page owners, ‘friend’ me, if you want.

    6. July 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

      Wonderful to be discovering all these riches! And identifying some nasties to work on. It’s an ongoing unfoldment for me too. I didn’t know the wavy rosettes are juvenile star thistle! That is good to know. Our local lonicera is pink – so fun to see your chaparral honeysuckle.

      • July 12, 2011 at 6:43 am

        Thanks, Mouse! You can bet I’m going to nip those star thisles in the seedling stage now! It’s been so interesting in the garden once I started to ID the seedlings and new-to-me species. Can anything be more fun? I’d like to see your pink lonicera sometime!

    7. July 12, 2011 at 7:20 am

      For sure – if you’re in the bay area or central coast area I hope you’ll get in touch 🙂

    8. dan
      June 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      the bad guy thistle you saw is normally called Malta starthistle or as i first learned it, tocalote. Where did you hear Napa Star Thistle? Great images.

    9. Sue Langley
      June 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Dan, thanks!
      They are the same thing, Centaurea melitensis…I have been able to identify many plants on Cal-Flora,…pretty neat site. This one I knew due to an unfortunate bicycle race I watched once and found myself standing in a clump of it. NOT fun!
      http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=1851

      ~~ Sue

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