Brassicaceae (Mustard family) members are easy to distinguish - with few exceptions, the flowers have 4 petals and 4 sepals; 6 stamens (4 long and 2 short); and 2 rows of seeds on a pistil that is partitioned lengthwise into 2 divisions.
Familar cultivated Family members include Mustard, Radishes, Watercress, Cauliflower, BokChoy and Broccoli. Rock Cress (Arabis), Wallflower (Erysimum) and Stock (Matthiola incana) are popular native ornamental species for gardens. Three of the species included here are aliens that are so pervasive in the area that they merit identification.
Arabis glabra - (Tower Mustard)
Brassica birapa - (Field Mustard)
Flowers: White to light pink, four petals; in clusters at top of stems.
Blooms: February - April
Leaves: Oval lower leaves and three-part, lance-shaped upper pinnate leaves.
Fruit/Seeds: Forming in pods on stems below flower cluster.
Location: Shady, damp trails throughout te mountain.
Status: Native - Common.
Dentaria cardimine californica
600x450 JPEG - 28K
Further description & Comment: 4 - 15 inches tall, single stem; multiple clusters of flowers that develop into linear seed pods on the stem.
This plant is first observed in early winter as a solitary fleshy leaf with rounded outline marks, and is one of the first of the spring wildflowers; presenting a surprising splash of white along the trail in February.
Flowers: Yellow , 4 petals in maltese cross, 1/2 inch across; in dome like clusters at tops of stems.
Blooms: March - June
Leaves: Narrow and toothed.
Fruit/Seeds: Forming in pods on stems below flower cluster, extending from stem at roughly 45 degree angles.
Location: Along trails at higher elevations, rocky or sandy areas - San Pedro Mountain Road, North Peak Access Road.
Status: Native - Rare; Category 4: Plants of limited distribution - - a watch list.
Further description & Comment: 1 to 2 feet tall. Along with Arabis blepharophylla - (Rose Rock Cress), Lupine and Sedum, it forms the main food source chain for the life cycle of the endangered San Bruno Elfin Butterfly.
Note the distinctive cluster of Maltese Cross shaped flowers that is indicative of this family.
This photo shows the narrow toothed leaves on the stem of the plant. Also note the seed pods forming on the stem below the flower cluster where earlier blooms had been.
The feathery leaves around the base are from newly sprouting Common Yarrow plants.
|Plant Listings by:||Family & Latin Name||Common Name||Color|
|Top of Page||Home|