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Spring plant sales are coming to a close (darn), you've done your spring planting (right?), and now you have to wait ever-so-patiently for those natives you planted to take off. Remember, you can always go for a stroll around the Botanic Garden and experience what your native plants will someday (hopefully) look like!
While I could write about many of the showy flowers I wrote about last year at this time (e.g., Rhododendron, Azalea, Matilija Poppy, Lilies, Fremontia), I'll turn my focus instead to flora that are often overlooked because of those lovely show-offs; some you surely know, others you may not have thought of for a while, and one rarely blooms but has been this year. I have also indulged in a few other show-offs.
Achlys californica (Vanilla Leaf): large fan-shaped leaflets, tiny white flowers on spike
Agave shawii (Shaw's Agave): tall panicle (>6ft), yellow flowers, rarely blooms
Aralia Californica (Elk Clover): small white umbels, large pinnate, ovate leaflets
Berberis/Mahonia spp. (Barberry): rare & endangered shrubs, small yellow flowers
Calycanthus occidentalis (Spice Bush): large shrub, glossy ovate leaves, dark red flowers
Calystegia spp. (Morning Glory Vine): delicate white-pink funnelform flowers
Carpenteria californica (Bush Anemone): shrub with fragrant white showy flowers
Clarkia spp. (Clarkias): many shades of pink-purple, 4 petals, entire or lobed
Clematis ssp. (Buttercup Vine): woody vine with large cream colored sepals
Clintonia andrewsiana (Red Clintonia): pink-purple umbels, basal elliptic leaves
Cornus sericea (Creek Dogwood): often overlooked because of showy C. nuttalii
Dendromecon harfordii (Tree Poppy): shrub with showy four petal yellow flowers
Hydrophyllum tenuipes (Pacific Waterleaf): large leaf (lobed) perennial, white flowers
Lonicera ciliosa (Orange Honeysuckle): deciduous vine with dense flower whorls
Malacothamnus palmeri (Bush Mallow): pink-petal flowers on woody, tall stems
Nolina cismontana (Bear Grass): sword-like leaves, tall panicle with creamy flowers
Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange): small shrub with showy fragrant white flowers
Sidalcea spp. (Checkerblooms): pink flowers, often on decumbent spreading stems
Tanacetum bipinnatum (Dune Tansy): pinnately lobed leaves, small yellow composite flowers
Tellima grandiflora (Fringe Cups): spike-like raceme, many small pink "fringed" flowers
Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry): small white flowers, delicious berries
Of course there are also the many swaying grasses, tender ferns, and delicate bulbs to take in, along with conifers' new growth, and new leaves of deciduous plants. Enjoy experiencing some plants that you may not usually notice this time of year. Feel free to ask Interpretive Student Aides or Gardeners if you don't know where to find any of these plants, or check the location binder in the Visitor Center.
--by Juliet Hannafin, May 10, 2013
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