March Showers, Spring Flowers: The Blues

Mar 26 2011 Published by under Biology & Environment

I love spring rain.  It makes the air fresh, the weather cool and after a day of sunshine brings a profusion of yellow and blue and purple flowers.

Admittedly I consider most of those flowers weeds when they appear in my garden. But they look lovely on the local hillsides and add color to the less-well-tended bits of pavement around town.

Yesterday evening I walked the nearest hillside trail and took pictures of some of the flowers underfoot. I've done my best to identify them, but I wouldn't be surprised if some are mis-identified. Corrections are welcome!

(Click images for a larger view.)

I have a special fondness for tiny blossoms that are only visible when looking carefully at your feet. One such flower is blue Creeping Speedwell (Veronica umbrosa, but often identified as Veronica peduncularis).

Creeping speedwell is not a Southern California native.  It's commonly sold as a fast-growing ground cover, so those plants growing local hillsides (or as weeds in my garden) are probably escapees from someone's garden.  For a really close-up view of creeping speedwell, check out Brian Johnston's microscopy images.

Another weedy plant with tiny colorful flowers is Redstem Filaree (Erodium cicutarium).

Another non-native, it was apparently introduced to California in the early 18th century by "passing Spanish explorers", making it one of the first invasive exotic plants to arrive in North America with the Europeans.  Of course after 300 years it's more a native of the state than most of us who live here.  (Thanks to local blog Cannundrums, whose photos of Redstem Filaree helped me identify them.)

Also growing low to the ground were these pretty purple flowers that I haven't been able to identify:

But not all the blues and purples were underfoot.

There were lupines in several shades growing along the street and along the trail.

There are a number of native lupines, including Lupinus sparsiflorus (Coulter's Lupine or Mojave Lupine), Lupinus odoratus (also called the Mojave Lupine), and Lupinus arizonicus (Arizona Lupine).  There are more photos of local varieties on the Cannundrums blog.

Also spotted were these native Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum):


and California Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia or a close relative):

And there were also these clusters of small blue flowers I haven't yet identified:

So the blues were scattered along the trail, providing a bit of color.

But what brought brightness were the yellows . . .  (more tomorrow)

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