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Shell Creek Road

Shell Creek Road

Here is another photograph from a favourite area of mine in California, taken on April 5, 2010 (the same day as this photograph). Instead of identifying the plants when photographing these areas, I tend to just spend my limited time behind the camera. Fortunately, others who have the opportunity to spend more time with the plants have added some documentation, so I think it is relatively reasonable to use resources like Nature Alley to assign some names.

The small yellow flower that dominates the image is certainly a Lasthenia, or goldfields, but I would feel very uncertain assigning it to species. The purple inflorescences belong to a Castilleja, probably Castilleja densiflora. Resources for the area suggest that the remaining white and yellow coloured blossom is almost certainly the broadly-distributed Layia platyglossa.


The purple is Owl's Clover or Castilleja exserta. Often found with Lasthenia and Layia on Serpentine outcroppings which I'm willing to bet this is. Gorgeous picture.

In a good year this can be an amazing display. It's called Shell Creek because there are fossilized seashells in the strata of the area.

You certainly made my day here in Sweden on this rather gloomy and halfwinter day with this gorgeous picture.

Nothing like a field of wildflowers to lift your spirits. Gloomy here in Michigan as well.
Thanks Daniel.

The little comp is almost certainly Lasthenia californica, California goldfields. This is the plant that dazzled John Muir as he gazed for the first time at California's Great Valley, "a vast shimmering sea of Compositae".

Lasthenia was a student of Plato, who was forced by the mores of the time to masquerade as a man in order to attend. She did well, even becoming a favored pupil. But the gig was up one day when all the guys decided to go down to the baths. Plato decided that she did not have to go to the baths, but she was to return in the morning, in a woman's clothes. What a barrier-breaker!

Well, it's 65 and clear-skied here in SoCal, but this still brightened my day. What an insanely dense display! I've grown Lasthenia and Layia in my yard before (on sandstone and clay), but never had any luck with Castilleja. This year will be mostly the usual suspects: Phacelia, Clarkia, and lots of Eschscholzia... can't wait for Spring!

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