Yellow sand verbena (Abronia latifolia) grows on sandy coastal beaches and dunes along the Pacific Coast. Fine, glandular hairs cover the entire plant making it sticky. As a result it is impossible to brush all the sand off of the yellow sand verbena specimens, as can be seen in the photographs which were taken on the beach at Dry Lagoon at Humboldt Lagoons State Park in Humboldt County CA. A member of the Four O’Clock Family, yellow sand verbena tolerates salt spray.
The yellow sand verbena stem arises from a thick, heavy taproot which is edible. The trailing, prostrate stems readily branch, but the main stem is the longest. With its vine-like growth form, yellow sand verbena can form large mats. The long-stalked leaves are opposite, thickly succulent and are round to kidney shaped.
The yellow sand verbena inflorescence is a spherical head located on a terminal stalk or on stalks (peduncles) in the leaf axils. Each head, containing 17 to 35 bright yellow flowers, is surrounded by ovate bracts. The five petals are united into slender tubes. Each petal lobe is notched, occasionally giving the impression that the flower has ten petals.
The fruit of yellow sand verbena (also colloquially called coastal sand verbena) is a glandular, hairy achene with 3 to 5 keel-like wings containing an elliptical seed.
The genus, Abronia, from the Greek “abros” means graceful or delicate. Derived from Latin, the species name, latifolia, signifies “having wide leaves”.