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Edgewood Natural Preserve is located off 280 in San Mateo County. Its serpentine grasslands are famous for their magnificent displays of wildflowers each spring.

There are lots of good ways to learn the plants at Edgewood:
  • A docent program provides guided plant walks every weekend day during the spring bloom.
  • Toni Corelli's "Flowering Plants of Edgewood Natural Preserve" describes each type of plant in detail.
  • Local experts have created several searchable ID Guides for Edgewood.

Thanks to NRDB.org for this list.

Abrams' Eriastrum
Eriastrum abramsii
  • Height to 6 in.
  • EW Bloom Jun - Jul
  • Five petals in an irregularly shaped trumpet
  • Alternate leaves are thinly divided
  • Low-growing (about 6 inches tall) often found in chaparral.
  • Found in the coast ranges in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay
  • CA native - endemic to California.

Flower is surrounded by green bracts filled with a woolly fiber. It is a member of a group called Woollystars.

Leaves are divided into thin lobes. Flower is small and irregular.

Grows to about 6 inches tall, with flowers on the end of thin, divided stems.
Medicago sativa
  • Height 1 - 3 ft.
  • EW Bloom May - Jun
  • Like a clover but taller, and with serrated leaves.
  • Purple pea-like flowers cluster in small groups at the end of multiple stems.
  • Used in agriculture, you'll find Alfalfa in disturbed areas near farms.
  • Not CA native

Leaves in 3, serrated, with short petioles connecting them to the stem.

Clusters of small purple pea-like flowers.

Grows erect. The pea pod twists into a coil.
American Brooklime
Veronica americana
  • Height to 1 ft.
  • EW Bloom May - Oct
  • Blue or violet 4-petaled flowers
  • Opposite leaves
  • Round stems
  • Grows in fresh-water wetlands, such as stream banks
  • Stem runs along the ground, up to 2 feet long.
  • CA native

4 pale-blue petals with 4 green sepals behind them.

Look for 4 petals and opposite leaves with a round stem. Green center guides in pollinators.

Opposite leaves up to 3 inches long. Flowers in groups at the end of stalks.
American Vetch
Vicia americana ssp. americana
  • Height 1 - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - May
  • Flowers with pink, violet and white parts.
  • Tendrils, modified leaves, allow the plant to climb on others.
  • The vine stem can grow to 4 feet long, but the plant is generally under 2 feet tall.
  • Alternate compound leaves.
  • Widespread understory plant.
  • CA native

Lots of small compound leaflets.

Small but bright flowers

Long thin leaves and purple flowers make this a vetch.
Annual Beard Grass
Polypogon monspeliensis
  • Height 2 - 3 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Oct
  • This annual grass is found in disturbed areas, usually in wetlands.
  • The grass is topped by big fluffy green flower spikes that dry to a brown color..
  • Cal-IPC invasive rating: Limited.
  • Not CA native

Long awns let light through around the edge.

Soft, dense, fluffy flowers are green until they seed.

Grows in dense clumps with prominent flower spikes.
Annual Blue Grass
Poa annua
  • Height to 8 in.
  • EW Bloom Feb - Sep
  • A sweet grass, used by farm animals
  • It spreads quickly in disturbed areas
  • Seeds are distributed 8 months a year.
  • Not CA native

Flower heads are small, without awns.

Vivid green leaves are blunt at the tips.

Flower stalks grow at an angle from the stem, giving a loose appearance.
Annual Hairgrass
Deschampsia danthonioides
  • Height 5 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Aug
  • Although it is a bunchgrass (many stems growing from one plant), above the ground the stems are single or loosely bunched.
  • This annual grass grows in moist to drying areas around ponds, meadows and grasslands.
  • It is widespread in California.
  • CA native

Flower spikelets are V-shaped, and have long awns sticking out.

Grows singly or in loose clusters. Flowers grow on narrow, spreading branches.

Hairgrass gets its name from its long hair-like awns.
Annual Yellow Sweetclover
Melilotus indicus
  • Height to 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • Spikes of tiny yellow pea flowers.
  • Leaves in threes like clovers, but serrated.
  • Compound leaves stand away from the stem on petioles.
  • Wide ranging across the world, common in many areas.
  • Not CA native

Yellow pea flowers in a thin spike.

3-part leaf, with serrations. Each compound leaf stands apart from the stem on a petiole.

A common sight by the side of the road, these yellow flowers are easy to spot.
Arroyo Lupine
Lupinus succulentus
  • Height 8 in. - 3 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • There are many lupines in California - this is one of the most common.
  • It has stacks of whorled pea flowers at the top of 3-foot stems.
  • Rather large palmate leaflets are wider near their tip.
  • It does well on moist slopes.
  • CA native

Here's a closeup of the flower. The yellow pistil is just sticking out of the right-hand "keel" The left part is called the "banner".

Look for radial leaflets that are large (over 2") and wider near the tip.

Grows to 3 or so feet, with beautiful cylindrical groups of pea flowers.
Arroyo Willow
Salix lasiolepis
  • Height 7 - 35 ft.
  • EW Bloom Feb - Apr
  • This is the most common willow in California.
  • It's deciduous and is found near water.
  • Look for narrow leaves that are wider near the tip than at the base.
  • CA native.

Classic pussies with yellow stamens. The buds are fused together (not overlapping) before they open.

Leaves are about 5 inches long, smooth-sided and narrow. They're pale/hairy underneath, and wider near the tip than near the base.

This willow has many trunks, sometimes growing as a tree, and sometimes as a tangled shrub.
Batchelor's Button
Centaurea cyanus
  • Height 1 - 3 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Sep
  • Blue, violet, white flower
  • Tiny petals
  • Alternate leaves
  • Not CA native

Beaked Cryptantha
Cryptantha flaccida
  • Height 6 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • White flower
  • Five petals
  • Alternate leaves
  • Slopes
  • CA native

Bearded Clover
Trifolium barbigerum
  • Height to 1 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • Brown, pink, violet, white flower
  • Irreg petals
  • Alternate leaves
  • CA native

Beardless Wild Rye
Elymus triticoides
  • Height 2 - 4 ft.
  • EW Bloom May - Jul
  • Found in moist habitats with heavy and salty soils, often growing to the water's edge, which helps stabilize soil.
  • It spreads by underground rhizomes.
  • Leaves grow over a foot long, and 1/4" wide.
  • CA native

"Knees" at stem joints.

Prominent blue-green leaves grow away from the stem.

Spikelets alternate sides going up the top of the stem. This is a characteristic of ryes.
Bee Plant
Scrophularia californica
  • Height 2 - 4 ft.
  • EW Bloom Feb - Jul
  • Bee plant is tall, with prominent triangular leaves and tiny reddish-brown flowers.
  • Small flowers are less than 1/2" across and have a nectar disk to reward pollinating bees.
  • Opposite leaves connect to the stem via petioles.
  • Found in moist places below 5,000 feet.
  • CA native

A square stem supports large, opposite, toothed leaves.

Tiny flowers each form a bowl with two rounded petals on top and 3 shorter ones around the bottom.

Bee Plant grows several feet high with opposite, narrow leaves sticking straight out. Flowers are on horizontal stalks near the top.
Agrostis exarata
  • Height 6 in. - 3 ft.
  • EW Bloom Jul - Aug
  • CA native

    Leaves are flat, thin, narrow, and grow up to 6 inches long.

The inflorescence is a tuft full of tiny spikelets.

The flower head can be up to 12" long.
Bifid Sedge
Carex serratodens
  • Height 1 - 4 ft.
  • Flower
  • Streambanks meadows
  • CA native

Big Squirrel Tail Grass
Elymus multisetus
  • Height 6 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Aug
  • CA native

Awns up to 8 inches long create a squirrel tail effect.

Bird's Eye Speedwell
Veronica persica
  • Height 4 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Mar - Sep
  • Blue flower with darker blue stripes is under 1/2" wide.
  • Flower is white and green in the center.
  • Four petals, but the bottom petal is smaller than the others.
  • Leaves are under 1 inch long, and serrated.
  • An agricultural escapee, found in distrurbed areas.
  • Not CA native

Leaves opposite at the bottom of the stem and alternate higher up. Flowers connect to the stem at leaf joints.

Beautiful small 4-petaled flower with stripes. Bottom petal is smaller.

Small plant. Stem is not stiff and often lies sideways.
Bird's Foot Lotus
Acmispon brachycarpus
  • Height 6 in. - 1 ft.
  • EW Bloom May - Jul
  • Yellow flower
  • Pea petals
  • Alternate leaves
  • CA native

Bird's Foot Trefoil
Lotus corniculatus
  • Height to 8 in.
  • EW Bloom Jun - Jul
  • Yellow pea flowers.
  • Fruit forms a tiny cluster of pods (hence Bird's Foot)
  • Thin compound leaves along the stem.
  • Grows along the ground in grasslands.
  • Not CA native

Tiny plant. Fruit pods on the left, compound leaves in the middle, and flower head on the right.

Pea flowers grouped at the end of the stem.

Often prominent in grasslands. Sometimes vine-like, with stems up to 20 inches.
Bisbee Peak Rushrose
Crocanthemum scoparium
  • Height 6 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Sep
  • Small bright-yellow flowers have 5 petals.
  • Though uncommon, its many bright flowers make this plant easy to spot.
  • Stems are thin but erect, and smooth.
  • Found in dry areas, often along the coast from the Bay Area south.
  • CA native, found only in California

Long, smooth stems grow in an open arrangement. Buds are reddish brown.

Bright yellow flower is less than 1/2 inch across.

Found on dry, sandy places, often on hills.
Lewisia rediviva
  • Height to 1 ft.
  • EW Bloom Mar - Jun
  • This beautiful flower is made up of pink, violet and white.
  • It has about 15 oblong petals, each over an inch long.
  • Flowers are a combination of pink, violet and white.
  • Bitterroot grows low to the ground, often in the mountains.
  • It sometimes dies back after blooming in the spring (summer deciduous).
  • CA native

Stems are short. Below the petals are 6-9 oval sepals.

Many pink petals, paler in the center. Lots of yellow-tipped stamens and a pale pink pistil.

Basal leaves are bean shaped, and form a rosette under this low-growing plant.
Black Medick
Medicago lupulina
  • Height 6 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Jun - Jul
  • Yellow clover-like flower
  • Compound leaves in groups of 3s - hairy, with short petioles.
  • Found in disturbed areas with good drainage. Widely distributed around the world.
  • Not CA native

Yellow pea-shaped flowers clustered like a clover.

Leaves are grouped in 3s, with short petioles. Leaflets are toothed towards the tip and end in a short point.

Stem is quite thin, and grows along the ground when the plant is young. Fruit develops into a hard, black, oval pod.
Blackwood Acacia
Acacia melanoxylon
  • Height 50 - 100 ft.
  • EW Bloom Feb - Mar
  • This acacia tree has twisted reddish-brown pods.
  • The trunk has high levels of tannin, which causes dark stains when people handle it (thus Blackwood).
  • Generally found in coastal disturbed areas.
  • Not CA native Cal-IPC invasive rating is "Limited"

Mature leaves are generally wide but occasionally have divided fern-like tips. Young leaves are divided too.

Pale yellow spherical flowers show many stamens. These develop into reddish-brown pods.

Blackwood Acacia grows to be a substantial tree.
Blow Wives
Achyrachaena mollis
  • Height 2 in. - 2 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - May
  • Red, white, yellow flower
  • Many, no petals
  • Alternate, opposite leaves
  • CA native

    Flower centers often are darker, with lines.

White papery flowers in a ball.

Most of the seeds have blown away, showing how each remaining seed is attached.
Blue Elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea
  • Height 6 - 25 ft.
  • EW Bloom Jun - Jul
  • A large shrub with clusters of white flowers, plus compound leaves indicate an Elderberry.
  • Berries are black but appear blue because of a waxy covering.
  • Grey bark with vertical furrows.
  • Common on stream banks and open places in forests.
  • CA native

Berries with a waxy covering makes them look powdery.

White flat-topped clusters of flowers are easy to spot.

Compound leaves with 5 - 9 toothed leaflets.
Blue Gum
Eucalyptus globulus
  • Height to 200 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • Flower nestled between stem and leaf.
  • Leaves long, thin and dark green.
  • Common, found in disturbed areas.
  • Not CA native

Mature leaves are narrow and curved, growing to a foot long. Woody fruits with 5 notches, grow to 1 inch across.

Flower has many white stamens surrounding a central knob, and smells of honey.

Heavy trunks with bark that peals in large strips.
Blue Oak
Quercus douglasii
  • Height 20 - 65 ft.
  • EW Bloom Mar - May
  • This deciduous tree is common on dry grassy hills.
  • Blue-green leaves with wavy edges, plus corn flake bark, are quick way to identify this oak.
  • Leaves are relatively small and sparse, allowing it to tolerate more sun and dryer places than other California deciduous oaks.
  • CA native. Found only in California.

Bark is pale and checkered by medium-size cracks. It reminds me of corn flakes.

Leathery blue-green leaves often have shallow lobes. They have a short petiole (stalk) and are about 2 inches long.

This moderately sized oak has a heavy trunk and branches, and is found on slopes in dry, hot places that have some water.
Blue Wild Rye
Elymus glaucus ssp. glaucus
  • Height 2 - 5 ft.
  • EW Bloom Apr - Jun
  • This perennial bunch grass grows in small tufts.
  • Leaves are start fairly wide and narrow to a point.
  • Found at the margins of woods.
  • CA native

Closeup of flowers, showing 1" awns. The whites spots are dried anthers.

This tall bunch grass has narrow flower spikes and grows to 4 or 5 feet tall.

Leaves are fairly wide, soft, and blue-green.