Three natives

A brief visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto on Monday (brief in part because my joints weren’t up to much walking), with Juan Gomez. Some things we could admire from afar, as lush spreads of gorgeous blooms, including annual sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), in an extraordinary range of colors, trained on wooden teepees. We tarried mostly in the California native plant section, which had lots of wonderful things, three of which I’ll report on here: two species in genera I’ve reported on, and one brand-new genus (in a recently created plant family).

Sisyrinchium californicum.


From Wikipedia:

Sisyrinchium californicum is a species of flowering plant in the iris family known by the common names: golden blue-eyed grass, yellow-eyed-grass, and golden-eyed-grass. It is native to the west coast of North America from British Columbia to central California, where it grows in moist habitat, often in coastal areas.

The head noun grass is in all of these common names because the narrow strap-like iris leaves look like blades of grass. Then there’s the name golden blue-eyed grass, which looks oxymoronic, but is less so when you realize that blue-eyed grass has simply become a conventionalized name for Sisyrinchium; compare plastic glasses.

Previously on this blog, on 4/15/14, on “Blue-eyed grass” (from Wikipedia):

Of the species in the United States, the Western Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum, is sometimes found with white flowers, while the California Golden-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium californicum, has yellow flowers.

Salvia leucophylla. There are on the order of a thousand species in the genus Salvia (sages), several of which I’ve posted about, but S. leucophylla is a new one:


Very handsome plant. From Wikipedia:

Salvia leucophylla, the San Luis purple sage, purple sage, or gray sage, is an aromatic sage native to the southern coastal mountain ranges of California and Baja California. The plant’s specific epithet, leucophylla, describes the light grayish leaves [Greek leukos ‘white’]. The type specimen was collected near Santa Barbara, California by Scottish botanist David Douglas and named by Edward Lee Greene in 1892. The common names refer to the pale purple flowers (Purple sage) or to the grayish leaves (Gray sage).

Mimulus aurantiacus. The genus is long familiar to me. Immensely cheering flowers, in about 150 species. A widely grown California native species, for which there are many cultivars:


From Wikipedia:

Mimulus aurantiacus, the sticky monkey-flower or orange bush monkey-flower, is a flowering plant that grows in a subshrub form, native to southwestern North America from southwestern Oregon south through most of California. It is a member of the lopseed family, Phrymaceae [which will be family #56], or, alternately, the Scrophulariaceae [the plantain family].

… The flowers are tubular at the base and about 2 centimeters long with five broad lobes; they occur in a variety of shades from white to red, the most common color being a light orange. They are honey plants pollinated by bees and hummingbirds.

Called monkey-flowers because their flowers are seen (by some) to resemble a monkey’s face. On the Latin name, from NOAD2:

ORIGIN modern Latin, apparently a diminutive of Latin mimus ‘mime’, perhaps with reference to its mask-like flowers

The plant is drought-resistant and tolerates a wide variety of soils.



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  1. [BLOG] Some Wednesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky shares photos of three native flowering plants of […]

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