Blue Fiestaflower

The foliage of blue fiestaflowers (Pholistoma auritum) is covered in curved and hooked hairs or bristles. At the time of the Spanish ranchos, senoritas would adorn their fiesta (party) dresses with sprigs of these flowers, the bristles of which would stick to fabric like Velcro. Hence the common name.

Blue fiestaflower is a weak vine that branches profusely forming a tangle. The stems are brittle and fleshy.

The leaves of this native annual are deeply lobed and toothed with winged petioles that clasp the stem. The lower leaves are opposite while the upper are alternate.

The terminal blue fiestaflowers occur in singly or in cymes of 2 to 6 flowers. The hair-lined flowers are bell shaped and drooping. The 5 fused petals are blue to purple with darker markings in the center. There are 5 sepals.

The fruits of this Borage Family (Boraginaceae) member are capsules containing 1 to 4 brown seeds. The sepals enclose the fruits.

Blue fiestaflowers are found in varied habitats (coastal bluffs, mountain slopes, desert scrubland, streambanks and woodlands) below 6,000 feet in California, Southern Nevada and Arizona.

The genus designation derives from Greek (pholis/scale and stoma/mouth) and refers to scales in the throat of the flower: In Latin the specific epithet means “eared” like the winged leaf petioles.

These blue fiestaflowers were photographed in May along Bear Gulch Trail in Pinnacles National Park CA.

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California Maidenhair

California maidenhair (Adiantum jordanii) is a delicate fern arising from a slender, creeping rhizome. Ferns have their own descriptive terminology. Although they photosynthesize like flowering plants, the life cycle of a fern is different with gametophyte and sporophyte stages and the production of spores rather than seeds.

The several fronds (much divided leaves) of California maidenhair have dark brown to black stipes (stems) that are about as long as the blades. The blades (expanded portion of the frond) are pinnate (branching on both sides of the axis) with the ultimate segments broadly fan shaped. The sori (clusters of sporangium or sacs in which the spores are formed) occur in a band along the distal leaf margin and a false indusia (epidermal outgrowth) is formed by the recurved leaf margin. The sori of California maidenhair are linear and there is a shallow incision along the leaf margin between two successive sori.

A native perennial, California maidenhair grows in seasonally moist, shaded, rocky banks, canyons and ravines below 3,500 feet. It can be found in California and Southeastern Oregon. It is a member of the Brake Family (Pteridaceae).

California maidenhair is a carrier of the fungus-like organism Phytophthora ramorum which causes sudden oak death.

The genus Adiantum is from the Greek “adiantos” meaning “unwetted or unwetable” and refers to the way the fronds repel water. Rudolph Jordan Sr (1818 – 1910) was a German-born businessman and entrepreneur. He took specimens from his travels to the University of Halle in Germany to be studied. One specimen, which honors him with its specific epithet, was A jordanii.

These California maidenhair ferns were growing along Bear Gulch Trail in Pinnacles National Park (CA) and were photographed in May.

Another species of maidenhair fern, five-finger maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum) was discussed in one of my previous posts on 01-27-12.

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Hairy Pink

Hairy pink (Petrorhagia dubia) is native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It has been introduced and has spread throughout South America, Australia and Africa. In North America this annual was brought to California in the 1920s and was first observed in Southern Oregon in 1991. It is also found in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. It grows in disturbed areas and woodlands below about 6,000 feet. Often hairy pink is considered an invasive weed.

The simple or branched stem rises from a taproot. The stems of hairy pink are usually deeply furrowed. The middle internodes are often glandular. Hairy pink leaves are opposite and linear with finely toothed margins and pointed tips and are sheathed at the base.

The inflorescence of this member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae) is a head-like cluster of flowers. The base of the flower cluster is enclosed in a large mass of wide, claw-tipped, brownish bracts. Only one flower opens at a time. The flower is enclosed in a tubular calyx of sepals. The five bright pink to purplish petals have darker veins and are divided into two lobes at the tip. Ten stamens and a superior ovary complete the flower.

Hairy pink fruits are capsules with many tiny, helmet-shaped seeds.

Pinkgrass, wilding pink and windmill pink are other common names for P dubia. The genus name comes from Greek (petros/rock and rhagas/a chink or break) and translates as a rock fissure referring to the habitat of some species in this genus. In Latin the specific epithet means doubtful in the sense of not conforming to a pattern.

Leonard and I discovered these hairy pink flowers at the entrance to the boardwalk at Eight Dollar Mountain Natural Area north of Cave Junction OR.

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Elegant Clarkia

Primarily pollinated by bees, elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) is endemic to the southern two-thirds of California. A slender, spindly plant with simple or branched stems, elegant clarkia grows below 5,000 feet on dry slopes, often shaded, where soil is disturbed. These specimens were photographed along Bench Trail in Pinnacles National Park CA.

The plant has a few lanceolate leaves along the stem. The leaves are opposite and petioled. A member of the Evening Primrose Family (Onagraceae), the elegant clarkia inflorescence is an erect raceme. The flower buds are nodding. The four distinctive petals have a circular, diamond-shaped or broadly triangular outer edge and a threadlike base. The petal color can range from lavender pink to salmon or purplish with a darker red spot on each. The four reddish sepals are joined at the base and turn to one side after the flower opens. There are eight anthers. The outer anthers are red orange to dull red while the inner anthers are lighter to whitish. The stigma protrudes from the flower. Elegant clarkia fruits are eight-ribbed and contain brown, minutely crested seeds.

Another common name for C unguiculata is mountain garland. Lewis Clark (1770 – 1838), of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame, is honored by the genus name. In Latin the species designation means “little red claw or nail” and refers to the base of the petals.

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Lance-leaved Dudleya

Lance-leaved dudleya (Dudleya lanceolata) is a succulent belonging to the Sedum Family (Crassulaceae). Another common name for this perennial native is lanceleaf liveforever. W.R. Dudley (1849 – 1911), the first head of the Stanford University Botany Department, is honored by the genus designation. The specific epithet, lanceolata, means “lance like” and refers to the shape of the leaves.

Lance-leaved dudleya is a variable plant that often hybridizes with other Dudleya species. A basal rosette of lance-like leaves with acute tips emerges from a caudex or rootstock. Typically there are 10 to 25 green to purplish red basal leaves. The flower stem, on which there are several triangular to ovate bracts, rises from the side of the basal rosette.

The inflorescence is branched two or three times. Lance-leaved dudleya flowers can be orange to red and less often are yellow or even rarely green. The flower has 5 sepals fused below, five petals fused at the base and spreading above, ten stamens and five carples (female structures). The fruits are follicles containing many brown, ovoid seeds.

Found in California and Baja, lance-leaved dudleya grows on rocky slopes up to about 4,300 feet. These plants were photographed along the Bear Gulch Trail in Pinnacles National Park CA.

Lance-leaved dudleya is valued as an ornamental and house plant. Numbers are decreasing because of collectors who sell native specimens internationally and in the United States. A recent California law provides protection for Dudleya species against these poachers.

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