Early Wildflowers of Mount Burdell

                             (20 plants)

Open slopes invite easy wildflower viewing.

Mt. Burdell, in northern Marin County, is a favorite place to see native California plants.

Doreen Smith has compiled this list of common early spring wildflowers you'll see there.

The wildflowers you actually see will vary, based on rainfall patterns, seed dispersal the year before, and each species' strategies for handling the variety of climatic challenges they encounter in surviving for many generations.

Google Maps link to Mt. Burdell hike parking

Have fun!

California Buttercup
Ranunculus californicus
  • Blooms Feb - May
  • Bright yellow flower, up to 1 inch wide, has 7 to 22 shiny petals.
  • Single flower at the top of a stem, which can be short or long.
  • No leaves along the stem, but basal leaves are divided into several lobed parts.
  • CA native

Flower has many shiny, yellow petals.

Some individual petals can be white. The center is often green, surrounded by many stamens.

Basal leaves have a stem, with divided sets of indented leaves.
California Poppy
Eschscholzia californica
  • Blooms Feb - Sep
  • 4 large petals are orange (inland form) to yellow (coastal form)
  • A flat disk (torus) at the base of the petals is distinctive.
  • Widely distributed and quite common in grassy areas.
  • CA native, and the state flower

Bud and bloom. Notice the sheath covering the early bud.

Note the low grey leaves, and yellow flowers with orange centers of this coastal variety.

California Poppies fill grassy areas with an orange display from April to July.
Blue Dicks
Dichelostemma capitatum
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • Pink, violet, white flower
  • Six petals
  • Basal leaves
  • CA native

6 petals, pink, violet or white, grouped at the end of a tall, thin stalk.

Flower clusters at the end of long, narrow stems.

Long, narrow leaves at the base of the plant.
Star Lily
Toxicoscordion fremontii
  • Blooms Mar - May
  • Flowers grow in clusters.
  • Not a lily at all, Star Lily has 3 petals and 3 similar looking sepals.
  • Basal leaves
  • Found on rocky outcrops and woody slopes.
  • CA native

Six white petals with yellow dots near the center.

Flowers bunch at the top of a single stem. Lower flowers bloom first.

Flowers grow to perhaps 3 feet tall. Note long basal leaves with parallel veins.
Sun Cups
Taraxia ovata
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • 4-petaled yellow flowers are low to the ground, each o its own short stalk.
  • Leaves spread out below the flowers, forming a circle.
  • Leaves are roughly oval in shape, often with red stems, veins and edges.
  • Found in clay soils below 1,000 feet.
  • CA native

Four yellow petals with green and white center parts. Grows low to the ground.

Petals on this mature plant are separate from each other.

Lots of fairly wide basal leaves with red stems
Common Stickyseed
Blennosperma nanum var. nanum
  • Blooms Feb - Apr.
  • Small yellow flower with many petals, growing only a few inches tall.
  • Center is also yellow, with white areas.
  • Blooms in moist areas in poor soils, including serpentine.
  • CA native

Many yellow petals. Note ring of white stigmas. Buds are covered with green bracts.

Yellow petals are separate from each other, with green bracts below each one.

Leaves are thin but fleshy.
Purple Sanicle
Sanicula bipinnatifida
  • Blooms Mar - May
  • Spherical purple flower less than an inch across.
  • Prickly fruits stand out slightly from the sphere.
  • Stem can grow to 2 feet, supporting a flower at the tip, and sometimes flowers along the stem as well.
  • Basal leaves can grow to 7 inches, divided into several toothed lobes.
  • CA native.

Purple spherical flower, often with prickly fruits sticking out.

Flowers can form at the top of the stem, or branching out from the side.

Basal leaves are large, compared to the flower, with several deeply lobed sections.
Checker Bloom
Sidalcea malviflora
  • Blooms May - Aug
  • Flower petals pink, strongly veined, squared off at the end, 1/2" to 1" long each.
  • A perennial flower, often with a woody base.
  • Leaves vary greatly, with basal leaves fairly round and upper leaves deeply cut.
  • Found in grasslands, woodlands and scrub to 7,500 feet.
  • CA native

Five pink petals with radiating lines on each petal.

Basal leaves round and not deeply cut.

Deeply cut leaves.
Red Maids
Calandrinia menziesii
  • Blooms Feb - May
  • Low, spreading annual plant.
  • Two leaf-like sepals below the flower.
  • Found in sandy or loamy soil in grasslands and disturbed areas.
  • CA native

Flower has 5 deep pink to red petals, yellow-tipped stamens, and is about 1" wide.

Leaves are alternate, fairly long, and wider towards the tip.

Red Maids is a hardy plant, and can grow in many habitats.
Cream Cups
Platystemon californicus
  • Blooms Feb - May
  • A poppy flower, with 4 to 6 petals at the top of long stems.
  • Petals are cream and yellow, often showing both colors at once.
  • Leaves are long, thin, and opposite.
  • Disturbed areas to 3,000 feet.
  • CA native

Yellow petals, often showing white at the tips and/or in the center.

Many long stamens.

Single flower on the top of stems that can reach 2 feet. Leaves are narrow, and near the base of the stem.
Seep Monkey Flower
Mimulus guttatus
  • Blooms Apr - Jun
  • An easy-to-spot large yellow-orange flower, often with red or brown markings in its throat.
  • Opposite leaves.
  • Found in wet places, near streams or seeps.
  • CA native

Two-lipped yellow flower, usually spotted red.

Notice the opposite leaves, often toothed.

This plant is about 2 feet tall, with brown ridged fruits and yellow flowers. Other forms can be much smaller.
Dense Flower Owl's Clover
Castilleja densiflora
  • Blooms Mar - May
  • Dense clumps of red-to-purple and white flowers at the top of 1 foot stems.
  • Narrow, alternate leaves.
  • Found on grassy hillsides below 5,000 feet.
  • CA native

Dense spike of purple and white flowers.

Flower heads form at the top of stems that grow to about 1 foot.

This flower makes showy displays in pastures and grassy hillsides.
Lasthenia californica
  • Blooms Feb - June
  • Bright yellow flower with 6 - 13 petals (ray flowers)
  • Many small yellow bumps in the center (disk flowers).
  • Low to the ground, somewhat hairy.
  • Moist, flat habitats below 5,000 feet.
  • CA native

6 - 13 bright yellow petals (ray flowers) with lots of tiny bumps in the middle (disk flowers).

Low to the ground. Narrow leaves.

Can turn a moist field into a yellow carpet.
Woolly Fruited Lomatium
Lomatium dasycarpum ssp. dasycarpum
  • Blooms Mar - June
  • A member of the Carrot Family, many small yellow flowers appear at the end of stems arranged in an umbrella shape (umbel).
  • An annual, this flower has a long narrow taproot.
  • Grassy slopes and woodlands below 5,500 feet.
  • CA native

Clusters of yellowish-green flowers on stalks growing above disected basal leaves.

Flowers turn into clusters of flat round seeds.

Flowers in umbels at the end of 1 foot tall stems. This plant is turning to seed.
Shooting Star
Primula hendersonii
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • Grows to about 1 foot tall.
  • Likes water to grow, but needs to dies back to the ground later in the year.
  • Basal leaves to 6" long
  • CA native

5 pink or purple petals often point up, with stamens pointing down. Petals have a white band near the base.

Leaves are at the base of the plant. They're smooth-edged and wide, with a strong central vein.

Grows in groups. No leaves on the stem.
Smooth Tidytips
Layia chrysanthemoides
  • Blooms Mar - June
  • A daisy-like plant with 5 - 18 white-tipped yellow petals (ray flowers).
  • Flower center has many darker yellow bumps (disk flowers).
  • Leaves narrow and hairy.
  • Common in grassy meadows.
  • CA native

Individual flowers at the top of stems. White tips are often indented.

5 - 18 yellow petals, often with white tips.

Common in grassy meadows at low elevations, although it can be found up to 6,500 feet.
Purple Mouse Ears
Mimulus douglasii
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • Flower has two magenta petals on top of a gold and purple striped throat. Three tiny lower petals are easy to miss.
  • Often found on serpentine soils, in moist areas. However, it also occurs in dry chaparral and woodland communities.
  • CA native.

Flower has two magenta ears, above a throat of gold and purple stripes.

Leaves are at the base of the plant, and smooth edged.

The plant is quite small, growing to about 2 inches tall.
Yellow Owls Clover
Triphysaria versicolor ssp. faucibarbata
  • Blooms Feb - May
  • Dense spikes of white or yellow flowers. Flowers are pea-like, with 3 petals at the bottom.
  • Leaves are narrow, about 3 inches long, and can have several lobes.
  • Found primarily in the counties just north of San Francisco..
  • CA native

Flowers are white or yellow, growing in a dense spike at the top of stems that grow to about 2 feet.

Leaves are about 3 inches long, divided into a few narrow, pointed lobes.

Covers moist grassy hillsides in the spring.
Celery Weed
Lomatium californicum
  • Blooms Mar - Apr
  • Green-yellow flowers and celery leaves are distinctive.
  • Grows to 4 feet tall
  • Found on open grassy slopes to 6,000 feet
  • CA native

Flowers in bunches, starting green and becoming bright yellow.

Divided blue-green leaves. They resemble common celery leaves in appearance and taste.

A spreading plant, can grow to 4 feet tall.
Fritillary Lily
Fritillaria liliacea
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • Be careful around this endangered plant!
  • Grows to about 1 foot tall.
  • Primarily Bay Area counties.
  • CA native..

Nodding bell-shaped flowers with 6 white petals.

Notice the beautiful green stripes and elegant 3-part style and stamens.

Leaves are narrow, alternate, and few.