Tomales Point Wildflowers

                             (35 plants)

Vivid greens, yellows and blues make this a favorite spring hike.
How to find your plant
The Tomales Point trail starts from the northernmost parking lot at Point Reyes, and stretches 4.7 miles to a narrow bluff overlooking water in three directions. I make this 9 mile round trip every March - a kind of pilgrimage to celebrate bright green new plants and vivid wildflowers.

The first part of the trail winds generally uphill through fields covered with Buttercups, Coastal Bush Lupines, California Poppies, and Wild Radish, plus many other less obvious flowers. Near the end of this section, a valley opens up to the east, with big views of Tomales Bay, the Tomales River, and often, herds of Tule Elk.

Once you crest the big hill, you work your way down to a wet area. Large patches of Douglas Iris and Coyote Brush join lots of yellow wildflowers, including Buttercup and Point Reyes Blennosperma. I saw a red weasel in this section on March 17, 2016.

At the bottom of the hill is a pond and marshy area. Cape Weed, Coast Wallflower, and other water-lovers gather here.

Finally, the trail rises to the top of a narrow peninsula covered, surprisingly, with sand. I don't understand why the sand doesn't blow away. This is where it really gets good. Wild Cucumber, Seaside Fiddleneck, Common Groundsel, Shore Chickweed, Thymeleaf Sandmat and Lizard Tail add themselves to the ongoing display of Iris, Buttercup and Poppies, to make a glorious panorama of color. On a sunny day, the blue from the sky and the water contrast sharply with the yellow, orange and purple wildflowers.

A final bonus, for those willing to descend the steep point at the end, is a new system of Baby Blue Eyes, Naked Plantain, and Stonecrop. It makes a marvelous place for a windy picnic.

Have fun!

To find the trailhead, do a Google Maps for Pierce Point Ranch, Inverness, CA.

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.
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.
Point Reyes Blennosperma
Blennosperma nanum var. robustum
  • Blooms Feb - Apr
  • Yellow flower
  • Many petals
  • Alternate, basal leaves
  • CA native

Coastal Goldfields
Lasthenia minor
  • Blooms Mar - Jun
  • Yellow flower
  • Many petals
  • Opposite leaves
  • Streambanks slopes
  • CA native

Coastal Bush Lupine
Lupinus arboreus
  • Blooms Apr - May
  • Blue, pink, violet, white, yellow flower
  • Pea petals
  • Alternate leaves
  • Coastal
  • CA native

Wild Radish
Raphanus raphanistrum
  • Blooms Dec - Jul
  • Pink, white, yellow flower
  • Four petals
  • Alternate, basal leaves
  • Disturbed
  • CA not native

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.
Cow Parsnip
Heracleum maximum
  • Blooms Jun - Jul
  • White flower heads look like a flat-topped umbrella
  • Individual tiny flowers are grouped in little balls
  • Very large leaves
  • Flowers turn to sunflower-like seeds in August
  • CA native

Cow Parsnip stands out because of its size and bright white flowers.

Cow parsnip grows to 6 feet or more.

Big leaves, up to 12" across. Also hollow stems.
Wild Cucumber
Marah fabacea
  • Blooms Mar - Apr
  • A vine, often climbing 15 or 20 feet high, with curlycue tendrils for gripping.
  • The root, shaped like a huge carrow, can be 5 feet long and weigh many pounds.
  • Found in shrubby areas with some moisture.
  • CA native

A vine with many small white flowers, 5 or 6 petals.

Many tendrils off the stem make it a great climber.

Fruit is large, about 2 inches across, with spines.
Seaside Fiddleneck
Amsinckia spectabilis
  • Blooms Apr - May
  • Tubular 5-petaled yellow flowers up to 1 inch long in coils at the end of the stem.
  • Stem and leaves are quite hairy.
  • Coastal salt-marsh and sandy areas
  • CA native

Found in sandy soil, often near the coast.

Coils of flowers in a fiddleneck - similar to young ferns fiddlenecks.

Grows to 1 foot tall