A native perennial endemic to California, grand lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus) is found in dry, open, disturbed sites in association with chaparral and ponderosa pine forests below 5,400 feet.
The former scientific name for grand lotus, Acmispon grandiflorus, was Lotus grandiflorus, a name still common in the literature. Other colloquial names for A. grandiflorus include large-flowered lotus, chaparral lotus and chaparral bird’s foot trefoil.
Grand lotus stems are decumbent to erect. The pinnately compound leaves have 5 to 9 leaflets and a short petiole (stalk). Both the leaves and stems are hairy.
The inflorescence is an umbel (flowers arise from one point) containing three or more flowers. Yellow when young, grand lotus flowers age reddish. Characteristic of pea family members, each flower has five fused sepals and five petals fused into the typical “pea flower” shape. The banner petal (upper petal) is much larger than the other petals.
Grand lotus fruits are dark reddish brown pods containing up to 20 seeds.
These grand lotus flowers were photographed along a trail to Crystal Lake (Shasta County CA).