Railroad Grade Flowers

                             (26 plants)

Glorious flowers grace the slopes along Railroad Grade. Early spring Milkmaids and Manzanita are replaced by Ceanothus, Poppies and thousands of Douglas Iris in early spring. Later, the show changes to Chamise, Monkey Flower, Chaparral Pea and Deerweed.

With huge views of San Francisco and the ocean, this is one of my favorite places.

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.
Douglas Iris
Iris douglasiana
  • Common. Open hills and wooded areas.
  • Flower petals in 3s.
  • Cream to purple color.
  • Leaves narrow and long, with parallel veins.
  • Leaf underside paler than top.
  • California native.

Petals in 3s with colorful veins. Petal color varies quite a bit.

Veins not very noticable, compared to Ground Iris.

Leaves are narrow and long, with parallel veins. They're glossy on the top, and paler underneath.
Hairy Cats Ear
Hypochaeris radicata
  • Blooms Apr - Dec
  • Seeds stay on the plant for some time after blooming.
  • Yellow petals often have cuts in the end.
  • Basal leaves have large cuts out of them, like a cat's ear after a fight.
  • CA not native

Dandelion-like flower.

Basal leaves have large, uneven "bites" taken out of them.

Stems are tall, and branching.
Cardamine californica
  • Blooms Jan - Apr
  • Small white 4-petaled flowers, about 1/2" across.
  • Leaves near flower have several points. Leaves near the bottom are round.
  • Streambanks slopes
  • CA native

Four white petals form a flat cross. Yellow center. Stamens and pistal protruding.

Leaves near the ground are fairly round, like the top of a milkmaid's stool.

Leaves near the flower are pointy. Milkmaids has a fairly tall stem, with a few branches. Notice flowers are all near the top of the stem.
Yerba Santa
Eriodictyon californicum
  • Blooms May - Jun
  • Leaves fairly thin and 3 to 5 inches long, with serrations, often darker than other plants.
  • Leaves often have black sooty mold spots on them.
  • Flowers a cluster of white trumpets at the end of the stem.
  • CA native

Found in dry chaparral or exposed rocky slopes.

Leaves 3 to 5 inches long, with serrations. Often darker than neighboring plants.

5-petaled white trumpet flowers.
Silver Bush Lupine
Lupinus albifrons
  • Blooms Apr - Jul
  • Many purple, blue and white flowers arranged in whorls at the end of a stem.
  • The white in the flowers turns purple when the nectar is gone.
  • Hairy leaflets covered in dense matted hairs, giving a silvery appearance.
  • Fuzzy pea pods 2 to 4 inches in May to August.
  • Found in sandy and rocky areas up to 6,500 feet.
  • CA native.

Leaves finger like, often hairy.

Purple and white pea flowers.

Flowers rise up above leaves.
Small Annual Lupine
Lupinus bicolor
  • Blooms Mar - Jun
  • Found in many environments, under 3,000 feet.
  • Purple and white pea flowers, along top of stem.
  • Leaves in 7 - 9 thin leaflets, forming a circle, like a hand.
  • CA native

Grows to a foot or so.

Pea flowers in a spike, with purple and white petals.

Groups of 7 - 9 long leaflets, spread open like a hand (palmate).
Chaparral Pea
Pickeringia montana var. montana
  • Blooms May - Aug
  • A shrub covered with purple flowers - hard to miss when it is in bloom.
  • Pea-shaped flowers grouped at the end of stems.
  • Leaves like fingers, often hairy.
  • Branchlets are pointy - almost a thorn.
  • CA native

Showy pink and purple pea flowers.

Leaves, less than 1 inch long, in groups of 3s.

Vivid displays when in bloom.
Adenostoma fasciculatum var. fasciculatum
  • Blooms Jun - Aug
  • Many tiny white blooms.
  • Stems often more apparent than the tiny needle-like leaves.
  • Often paler than plants around it.
  • Common in chaparral.
  • CA native.

Flower with 5 white petals and long stamens.

Chamise has sprays of hundreds of 5-petaled white flowers.

Stems often have peeling bark, and are full of oil, which increases fire intensity - an advantage for this plant with burls that can regenerate.
French Broom
Genista monspessulana
  • Blooms Mar - May
  • Brilliant sprays of yellow pea flowers.
  • Short oval leaves in 3s.
  • Fuzzy seed pods.
  • Lots of space between branches.
  • CA not native

Groups of 4 to 10 flowers at the end of short branchlets. Slight fragrance.

3 leaflets. Evergreen

French Broom is invasive, covering hills.
Spanish Broom
Spartium junceum
  • Blooms Mar - May
  • Brilliant sprays of pea flowers, larger and deeper yellow than French Broom.
  • Flowers at end of straight branches.
  • Leaves not noticable.
  • CA not native.

Several flowers at the tip of stems, with a strong fragrance.

Stem is round, with many fine ribs.

Flowers larger and deeper yellow than French Broom.
Woolly Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja foliolosa
  • Blooms Mar - Aug
  • Orange-red cluster of flowers on top of a 2 to 6 inch tem.
  • Fuzzy, long, thin, cupped, pale green leaves.
  • CA native

Fuzzy, long, thin, cupped, pale green leaves.

Flowers on the end of stems less than 1 foot tall.

Flowers orange and red.
Acmispon glaber var. glaber
  • Blooms Mar - Jul
  • Flowers clustered near the end of stems.
  • Pea pods with 2 seeds.
  • Common in chaparral. Associates with sagebrush and toyon.
  • CA native

Small yellow and orange pea flowers.

Leaflets in 3s. Stems are green.

Low, erect, bushy shrub.
Golden Fleece
Ericameria arborescens
  • Blooms Aug - Sep
  • Yellow blooms at the end of stems.
  • Leaves long, shaped like stiff curved grass.
  • Overall appearance is soft, feathery, green.
  • CA native

Flowers at the end of many stems.

Leaves long, shaped like curved grass.

In seed.
Sticky Monkey Flower
Mimulus aurantiacus
  • Mar - Aug
  • Orange trumpet flowers with green around the base.
  • Long narrow leaves, about 3 inches long with strong vein markings.
  • Stems can be woody.
  • CA native

Orange trumpet flowers protected by green leafy bracts..

Leaves are long and narrow, with a strong central vein.

Shrub to 4 or 5 feet, covered in flowers, often makes a patch of orange on the hillside.
Indigo Brush
Ceanothus foliosus var. foliosus
  • Blooms Apr - June
  • Flowers in small bunches of indigo, with white and yellow accents.
  • Lots (thousands) of tiny leaves.
  • Glands make leaf edges look bumpy.
  • CA native

Indigo Brush is often full looking, with thousands of tiny leaves.

Flowers in small clumps, with white and yellow accents.

Tiny leaves with glandular bumps.
Buck Brush
Ceanothus cuneatus var. cuneatus
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • This inland variety has white flowers.
  • Leaves are short, thick, and rounded.
  • Short branchlets are almost 90 degrees from main stem.
  • CA native.

This inland variety flower is white, while the coastal variety (ramulosus) is pale blue.

Leaves are thick and smooth edged. Fruits are 3 part.

Short branchlettes keep flowers and foliage close to the woody stem.
Vaccinium ovatum
  • Blooms Feb - Jun
  • Leaves about 1 inch long, oval, ending in a point.
  • Leaves stiff and shiny.
  • Small pink and white flowers hanging in groups.
  • Leaves and stems often red.
  • Very dark fruit 1/4 inch wide.
  • CA native

Bunches of small pink urn-shaped flowers hanging down. Notice the small toothing on the thick leaf.

Leaves are a shiny deep green. Fruit is small and dark.

Shrub grows to 10 feet. It's shiny leaves and white/pink clusters of flowers are diagnostic.
Redwood Sorrel
Oxalis oregana
  • Blooms Feb - Jun
  • 5 petals, with purple stripes.
  • Flower has a striking yellow and green center, with white-tipped stamens.
  • Heart-shaped leaves arranged in 3s.
  • CA native

Flowers pink or purple, with stripes and a pale yellow center.

Flowers and 3-part leaves cluster close together near the ground. Leaflets are heart shaped.

Often found below Redwoods, in acidic soils.
Pacific Trillium
Trillium ovatum
  • Blooms Feb - Jun
  • 3 petals and 3 small leaves (bracts) filling spaces between the petals.
  • 3 bigger leaves below the flower and bracts.
  • Often found under redwoods, in damp shade.
  • CA native

3 small leaves behind the 3 petals.

Flower color varies from purple to blue to white, but always with a yellow center.

3 larger leaves surround the stem below the flower.
Gold Wire
Hypericum concinnum
  • Blooms Apr - Jul
  • Yellow flower
  • Five petals
  • Opposite leaves
  • Slopes
  • CA native

5 yellow petals that fold back. Many long stamens.

Opposite leaves grow regularly up the stem.

Clusters of plants grow to a few feet tall.
Vine Morning Glory
Calystegia purpurata ssp. purpurata
  • Blooms Apr - Sept
  • Funnel-shaped white to pink flowers.
  • Leaves thin heart shape.
  • A vine, growing below 1,000 feet.
  • CA not native

Funnel-shaped blossom, white to pink, with darker lines near the folds.

Leaves thin heart shaped.

Running vines. This species is not hairy.
Bush Poppy
Dendromecon rigida
  • Blooms Feb - May
  • Single yellow flower on each stem.
  • Leaves are slightly leathery with a fine serration - very different from California Poppy leaves.
  • Found on dry slopes. Does well in areas just burned.
  • CA native

Four roundish, overlapping yellow petals. Many stamens.

Fruits are thin and up to 4 inches long.

Grow in bunches to 10 feet tall.
Pink Honeysuckle
Lonicera hispidula
  • Blooms Apr - Jul
  • A vine that can grow up and hang down from trees.
  • Pink trumpet flowers with long stamens sticking out.
  • Bright red translucent berries.
  • Leaves near the flower wrap around the stem.
  • CA native

Leaves near the flower wrap around the stem.

Pink Honeysuckle is a vine, often hanging down from tree branches.

Notice the long stamens.
California Hemp
Hoita macrostachya
  • Blooms Jun - Jul
  • Plant is generally hairy
  • Fruit is a hairy brown pod.
  • Found in moist areas
  • CA native

Flowers are bunches of purple pea-like flowers.

Erect plant to 10 feet. Dozens of purple pea flowers per stalk.

Leaves on long stalks, in 3s.
Bear Grass
Xerophyllum tenax
  • Blooms May - Jun
  • Stems several feet tall. Look for lots of thin leaves when the flowers are not in bloom.
  • A large head of many tiny white flowers.
  • CA native

Many tiny white flowers form a bunch at the top of the stem.

Each stem is thick and grows to 5 feet tall.

Many thin leaves at the base of the flower.