Common Showy Flowers, Shrubs and Trees of the Santa Rosa Plateau

How To Use The Flora
The Flora


This page gives the most common noticeable flowers, shrubs and trees found on the trails of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve (SRPER). It is intended to help non-botanists learn the common flowers, shrubs and trees of the Reserve.

Comprehensive plant lists for an area are dominated by species found only rarely. This is very confusing to a beginner, who is usually overwhelmed by the large list in trying to identify a few plants of interest. Such beginners are much better served by a short list that is likely to contain the name of all showy, frequently-observed flowers they encounter. This is easily done by removing the large numbers of species on the list that are not likely to be encountered, as well as the ones not of interest to the beginner.

To form this list, I began with the latest Flora of the Santa Rosa Plateau, which contains 633 taxa (species, subspecies and varieties). Flora is the usual name for a plant list for an area, and I use that term interchangeably with list on this page. I first eliminated the non-showy flowers, grasses, rushes, sedges, etc., except for common noticeable species like ragweed and poison oak, and trees. I then eliminated all species not found on one of my nine plant trail guides, except for nine species which are common on at least one other trail at the SRPER. I made an exception for some flowers seen only at the Main Vernal Pool, due to the high interest in those flowers. Finally, I eliminated species that were found only in small numbers at one or two locations on those nine trails.

This produced a list of 195 species. Of those 195 species, 86 are found on only one or two trails, and 109 are found on three or more trails. Thus the beginner may wish to concentrate on learning the 109 most common species first, as defined by the number of trails on which each species occur, and then tackle the remaining 86. Once you have learned these 195 species, you will no longer be a beginner, and will be ready to tackle the rest of the species on the full plant list.

How To Use The Flora

Like most floras, this list is arranged by family. Although it is difficult for a beginner to use such a list initially, once you start to get familiar with a few families you will discover that this is absolutely the best way to present such a list. The primary benefit is that it is often fairly easy to figure out the family of an unknown plant, and then one only has to consider the much shorter list of species listed here in that family.

For example, most people can recognize members of the sunflower family, Asteraceae in Latin, by their heads composed of multiple flowers, often with separate ray and disk flowers, like a sunflower head. The pea family, Fabaceae, is another easily-recognized family, with flowers that look like a typical garden pea or sweet pea. Anyone who has grown tomatoes can recognize the nightshade family, Solanaceae, by the tomato-like flowers.

But sometimes you will have no clue as to the family of an unknown plant. In those cases, you will have to troll through the complete list. There are several aids in the list to help you narrow down the choice.

First, note what month you saw the plant blooming. The list contains the full range of possible months in which each species blooms, so you can eliminate ones that don't bloom in the month you observed a flower.

Second, note that life form of your plant. The life form is Annual herb, Biennial herb, Perennial herb, Vine, SubShrub, Shrub, or Tree, with the abbreviations being the capitals. An herb is a non-woody plant, as distinguished from a shrub or a tree, which have at least a woody base. A shrub has multiple main stems coming from the ground level; a tree usually has only a single main trunk. You then only need to consider plants of the same type in the list.

Finally, you then need to look at pictures of the ones that are possible matches. Here the advantage of a list sorted by family will become immediately apparent, since species in a given family tend to have similar flowers. For example, when you check the first species in the carrot family, Apiaceae, you will find that the flowers are in umbels (flat-topped clusters of flowers with a common single flower stem). If your unknown flower does not look like that, you can skip the rest of the ones in that family.

See California Plant Pictures and Databases for a list of resources giving pictures and information about California plants.

An asterisk (*) before the common name indicates a taxon not-native to California.

The first number in the #here/all column gives the number of the nine trails on which each species was found. The second number gives the number of trails in all of the 68 Southern California Trails for which Jane Strong and I have done plant lists. This gives you an idea of exactly how common each species is at the SRPER and elsewhere.

Thus if a species is found on three trails at the SRPER, and on three trails from all of our plant lists, that means this species was only found at the SRPER amidst all the 68 trails. For example, Blennosperma nanum var. nanum, yellow carpet, and Downingia bella, spotted downingia, both have "1/1" in the #here/all column. That means both species have only been found on a single one of our 68 trails, one at the SRPER. In this case, both are found on the Vernal Pool Trail, at the Main Pool. We have encountered no other vernal pools on the rest of our trails, which testifies to the rarity of these habitats.

The Flora

Version for printing, without the table lines and other text on this page.

# Latin Name Common Name (*)
Bloom #here/all
AnacardiaceaeSumac Family
1Malosma laurinalaurel sumacS2-54/25
2Rhus ovatasugar bushS3-52/16
3Rhus trilobatasquawbushS3-43/14
4Toxicodendron diversilobumpoison oakS4-59/29
ApiaceaeCarrot Family
5Daucus pusillusrattlesnake weedA4-65/11
6Eryngium aristulatum var. parishiiSan Diego button-celeryA/P5-81/2
7Lomatium dasycarpum ssp. dasycarpumwoolly-fruited lomatiumP3-62/4
8Lomatium utriculatumcommon lomatiumP3-43/4
9Sanicula argutasharp-toothed sanicleP3-46/8
10Sanicula bipinnatifidapurple sanicleP3-55/7
11Sanicula crassicaulisPacific sanicleP3-54/9
AsclepiadaceaeMilkweed Family
12Asclepias eriocarpaIndian milkweedP6-87/11
13Asclepias fascicularisnarrow-leaf milkweedP6-84/4
AsteraceaeSunflower Family
14Agoseris grandifloragrand mountain dandelionP5-73/7
15Ambrosia psilostachyawestern ragweedP7-116/22
16Artemisia californicaCalifornia sagebrushS8-124/30
17Artemisia douglasianamugwortP6-102/21
18Aster lanceolatus ssp. hesperiusSiskiyou asterP8-102/2
19Baccharis pilulariscoyote bushS8-123/17
20Baccharis salicifoliamule fatS1-124/26
21Blennosperma nanum var. nanumyellow carpetA2-41/1
22Centaurea melitensistocalote*A5-69/30
23Chaenactis artemisiifoliameally white pincushionA4-70/5
24Chaenactis glabriusculayellow pincushionA3-70/1
25Chamomilla suaveolenspineapple weed*A5-94/12
26Cirsium occidentale var. californicumCalifornia thistleB4-71/8
27Cirsium occidentale var. occidentalecobwebby thistleB4-71/4
28Cirsium scariosumelk thistleP6-80/4
29Cirsium vulgarebull thistle*A/B6-94/9
30Conyza canadensishorseweedA6-91/18
31Ericameria palmeri var. pachylepisPalmer's goldenbushS8-122/2
32Erigeron foliosus var. foliosusleafy daisySS5-77/27
33Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorumgolden yarrowSS1-77/35
34Gnaphalium bicolorbicolored everlastingP1-52/17
35Gnaphalium californicumCalifornia everlastingB1-75/21
36Gnaphalium canescens ssp. microcephalumwhite everlastingP7-106/29
37Gutierrezia californicaCalifornia matchweedSS5-102/5
38Hazardia squarrosa var. grindelioidessaw-toothed goldenbushS6-106/23
39Hedypnois creticaCrete weed*A4-51/12
40Helianthus gracilentusslender sunflowerP5-101/7
41Hemizonia fasciculataslender tarweedA5-82/9
42Hemizonia paniculataSan Diego tarweedA5-115/5
43Heterotheca grandifloratelegraph weedA/B1-122/20
44Holocarpha virgata ssp. elongatasticky tarweedA6-115/5
45Hypochaeris glabrasmooth cat's ear*A3-67/20
46Lactuca serriolaprickly lettuce*A5-96/20
47Lasthenia californicagoldfieldsA2-63/5
48Layia platyglossacommon tidy-tipsA3-52/3
49Lessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifoliaCalifornia-asterP/SS7-109/33
50Madia gracilisslender madiaA3-83/7
51Microseris douglasii ssp. douglasiiDouglas' microserisA3-41/1
52Osmadenia tenellathree spotA3-82/6
53Senecio vulgariscommon groundsel*A1-123/11
54Solidago californicagoldenrodP7-106/22
55Sonchus asper ssp. asperprickly sow thistle*A1-125/12
56Sonchus oleraceussow thistle*A1-125/20
57Stebbinsoseris heterocarpabrown microserisA3-52/2
58Stephanomeria diegensistwiggy wreath plantA7-103/6
59Tragopogon dubiusyellow salsify*B4-60/3
60Uropappus lindleyisilver puffsA3-65/15
BoraginaceaeBorage Family
61Amsinckia menziesiifiddleneckA3-62/8
62Cryptantha intermediapopcorn flowerA3-73/17
63Cryptantha muricataprickly cryptanthaA4-62/10
64Heliotropium curassavicumseaside heliotropeP3-101/6
65Plagiobothrys fulvus var. campestristawny popcorn flowerA2-52/0
66Plagiobothrys nothofulvusrusty-haired popcorn flowerA2-53/4
67Plagiobothrys undulatushooked popcorn flowerA3-61/1
BrassicaceaeMustard Family
68Cardamine californica var. californicamilk maidsP2-53/4
69Hirschfeldia incanashortpod mustard*A/B1-129/34
70Lepidium nitidum var. nitidumshining peppergrassA2-51/3
71Sisymbrium officinalehedge mustard*A4-76/12
72Thysanocarpus curvipesfringe-podA3-54/6
CactaceaeCactus Family
73Opuntia XvaseyiVasey's prickly pearS4-77/13
CampanulaceaeBellflower Family
74Downingia bellaspotted downingiaA4-61/1
CaprifoliaceaeHoneysuckle Family
75Lonicera subspicata var. denudatasouthern honeysuckleS4-68/27
76Sambucus mexicanablue elderberryS/T3-96/33
CaryophyllaceaePink Family
77Silene gallicawindmill pink*A2-66/19
78Silene laciniata ssp. majorsouthern Indian pinkP5-73/10
79Stellaria mediacommon chickweed*A2-94/15
CistaceaeRock-Rose Family
80Helianthemum scopariumrockroseSS3-62/7
ConvolvulaceaeMorning Glory Family
81Calystegia macrostegiasouthern California morning-gloryP/V5-64/1
CrassulaceaeStonecrop Family
82Dudleya lanceolatalanceleaf dudleyaP5-72/15
CucurbitaceaeGourd Family
83Cucurbita foetidissimastinking gourdP/V6-80/4
84Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpuswild-cucumberP/V1-48/29
EricaceaeHeath Family
85Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. zacaensisEastwood manzanitaS1-41/6
86Xylococcus bicolormission manzanitaS2-21/8
EuphorbiaceaeSpurge Family
87Eremocarpus setigerusdove weedA5-104/10
FabaceaePea Family
88Astragalus pomonensisPomona locoweedP2-66/6
89Lathyrus vestitus var. alefeldiiSan Diego peaP4-65/12
90Lotus hamatusSan Diego birdsfoot lotusA3-64/7
91Lotus purshianus var. purshianusSpanish cloverA5-106/14
92Lotus scopariusdeerweedSS/S3-84/16
93Lotus strigosusBishop's lotusA3-62/18
94Lupinus bicolordwarf lupineA3-67/17
95Lupinus concinnusbajada lupineA3-53/6
96Lupinus excubitus var. halliibush lupineS2-62/4
97Lupinus microcarpus var. densifloruswhite-whorled lupineA4-52/3
98Lupinus truncatuscollar lupineA3-53/15
99Medicago polymorphaCalifornia burclover*A3-67/25
100Trifolium ciliolatumtree cloverA3-65/6
101Trifolium depauperatum var. truncatumballoon cloverA4-62/3
102Trifolium gracilentum var. gracilentumpin-point cloverA4-64/4
103Trifolium microcephalumsmall-head field cloverA4-82/4
104Trifolium willdenoviitomcat cloverA3-64/8
105Vicia americana var. americanaAmerican vetchP/V4-63/4
106Vicia hasseislender vetchV4-72/2
107Vicia ludoviciana var. ludovicianaslim vetchA4-63/4
108Vicia villosa ssp. variawinter vetch*A/V4-76/9
FagaceaeOak Family
109Quercus agrifolia var. agrifoliacoast live oakT3-49/29
110Quercus berberidifoliascrub oakS3-57/11
111Quercus berberidifolia X Q. engelmanniiscrub oak X Engelmann oakS3-56/11
112Quercus engelmanniiEngelmann oakT4-58/17
GentianaceaeGentian Family
113Centaurium venustumcanchalaguaA5-72/5
GeraniaceaeGeranium Family
114Erodium brachycarpumshort-fruited filaree*A4-88/8
115Erodium cicutariumredstem filaree*A2-55/30
116Geranium dissectumcut-leaved geranium*A3-55/5
GrossulariaceaeGooseberry Family
117Ribes indecorumwhite-flowering currantS11-36/10
HydrophyllaceaePhacelia Family
118Eriodictyon crassifoliumthick-leaved yerba santaS4-61/2
119Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifoliaeucryptaA3-62/13
120Nemophila menziesiibaby blue eyesA2-63/8
121Phacelia cicutaria var. hispidacaterpillar phaceliaA3-53/8
122Phacelia minorwild canterbury bellsA3-62/12
LamiaceaeMint Family
123Marrubium vulgarehorehound*P5-81/16
124Monardella lanceolatamustang mintA5-81/3
125Salvia apianawhite sageS4-74/25
126Salvia columbariaechiaA3-61/15
127Salvia melliferablack sageS4-75/27
128Trichostema lanceolatumvinegar weedA8-102/2
MalvaceaeMallow Family
129Malacothamnus fasciculatuschaparral bush mallowS4-70/8
130Malvella leprosaalkali mallowP3-101/1
131Sidalcea malviflora ssp. sparsifoliacheckerbloomP2-77/13
NyctaginaceaeFour-O'Clock Family
132Mirabilis californicaCalifornia four o'clockP12-60/10
OnagraceaeEvening Primrose Family
133Camissonia hirtellafield sun-cupA3-51/1
134Camissonia ignotaJurupa Hills sun-cupsA3-52/4
135Clarkia epilobioidescanyon clarkiaA3-52/5
136Clarkia purpurea ssp. quadrivulnerapurple clarkiaA4-76/12
137Epilobium canum ssp. canumCalifornia fuchsiaSS8-103/10
138Epilobium densiflorumspike primroseA5-81/1
139Oenothera elata ssp. hirsutissimaHooker's evening-primroseP6-81/3
PaeoniaceaePeony Family
140Paeonia californicaCalifornia peonyP1-35/10
PapaveraceaePoppy Family
141Eschscholzia californicaCalifornia poppyA/P2-93/18
PlantaginaceaePlantain Family
142Plantago lanceolataEnglish plantain*P4-81/13
PlatanaceaeSycamore Family
143Platanus racemosawestern sycamoreT2-42/16
PolemoniaceaePhlox Family
144Gilia angelensisangel's giliaA3-53/5
145Linanthus dianthiflorusground pinkA2-45/6
146Navarretia atractyloidesholly-leaf navarretiaA5-71/2
147Navarretia hamata ssp. hamatahooked skunkweedA4-62/3
PolygonaceaeBuckwheat Family
148Eriogonum elongatum var. elongatumlong-stemmed buckwheatP8-115/15
149Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosumCalifornia buckwheatS3-106/35
150Eriogonum gracileslender buckwheatA7-102/2
151Polygonum arenastrumknotweed*A5-111/6
152Rumex crispuscurly dock*P1-127/13
PortulacaceaePurslane Family
153Calandrinia ciliatared maidsA2-54/8
154Claytonia perfoliataminer's lettuceA2-54/13
PrimulaceaePrimrose Family
155Anagallis arvensisscarlet pimpernel*A3-75/16
156Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. clevelandiishooting starP1-42/3
RanunculaceaeButtercup Family
157Delphinium parryi ssp. parryiblue larkspurP4-64/5
158Ranunculus occidentaliswestern buttercupP2-55/6
RhamnaceaeBuckthorn Family
159Ceanothus crassifoliushoaryleaf ceanothusS1-42/10
160Ceanothus tomentosus var. olivaceusRamona lilacS3-50/2
161Rhamnus crocearedberryS3-44/9
162Rhamnus ilicifoliahollyleaf redberryS3-68/29
RosaceaeRose Family
163Adenostoma fasciculatumchamiseS5-68/24
164Cercocarpus minutiflorusSan Diego mountain mahoganyS3-52/7
165Heteromeles arbutifoliatoyonS6-76/31
166Potentilla glandulosa ssp. glandulosasticky cinquefoilP5-74/6
167Rubus discolorHimalaya blackberry*S5-81/2
SalicaceaeWillow Family
168Salix lasiolepisarroyo willowS/T3-55/23
SaxifragaceaeSaxifrage Family
169Jepsonia parryicoast jepsoniaP10-12/8
ScrophulariaceaeSnapdragon Family
170Antirrhinum kelloggiitwining snapdragonA3-52/4
171Antirrhinum nuttallianumpurple snapdragonA2-82/3
172Castilleja densiflora ssp. gracilisowl's cloverA3-52/2
173Castilleja exserta ssp. exsertapurple owl's cloverA3-62/6
174Collinsia heterophyllaChinese housesA3-74/10
175Cordylanthus rigidus ssp. setigerusbristly bird's beakA5-85/18
176Keckiella cordifoliaheartleaf penstemonS3-82/18
177Linaria canadensis var. texanarough-seeded blue toad-flaxA3-52/4
178Mimulus aurantiacusbush monkeyflowerSS4-75/27
179Penstemon heterophyllus var. australissouthern foothill penstemonP4-72/2
180Scrophularia californica ssp. floribundaCalifornia bee plantP3-54/7
SolanaceaeNightshade Family
181Solanum parishiiParish's purple nightshadeSS3-52/8
ViolaceaeViolet Family
182Viola pedunculatajohnny jump-upP2-46/7
IridaceaeIris Family
183Sisyrinchium bellumblue-eyed grassP3-54/10
LiliaceaeLily Family
184Allium haematochitonred-skinned onionP3-51/2
185Bloomeria croceagoldenstarP4-61/6
186Brodiaea filifoliathread-leaved brodiaeaP5-61/1
187Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensisearth brodiaeaP4-61/1
188Calochortus albuswhite fairy lanternP4-61/1
189Calochortus splendenssplendid mariposa lilyP4-75/11
190Calochortus weedii var. weediiyellow mariposa lilyP5-72/6
191Chlorogalum pomeridianum var. pomeridianumsoap plantP5-75/11
192Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatumblue dicksP2-57/26
193Fritillaria biflora var. biflorachocolate lilyP2-63/4
194Muilla maritimamuillaP3-61/5
195Yucca whippleichaparral yuccaS4-52/14

I thank Jane Strong for her advice in pruning my original list of 238 common taxa into this page of 195 taxa and the page of the 109 most common taxa, as well as her other comments on these pages.

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Copyright © 2003 by Tom Chester
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 10 October 2003