Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)

The numerous Bay Area members of Hydrophyllaceae are herbaceous (not having a woody stem), with the exception of the shrub Eriodictyon californicum (Yerba Santa). The flowers have 5 calyx and corolla lobes, 5 stamens attached to the corolla tube, and a pistel with 2 at least partial divisions. The flowers form in a tightly coiled, one sided cluster.

Hydrophyllaceae is restricted mostly to western North America, and has no bothersome weed-like members. Many make attractive additions to native garderns. A few of the phacelias have stinging hairs, which may give the handler an unpleasant rash. Although usually pleasantly fragrant, a desert species of phacelia gives off one of the foulest odors I have ever encountered in a plant.

On Montara Mountain, we have the representatives:

Eriodictyon californicum - (Yerba Santa)

Phacelia californica - (California Coast Phacelia)

Phacelia malvifolia - (Stinging Phacelia)

Phacelia nemorales - (Bristly Phacelia)

Phacelia ramosissima
var. ramosissima - (Branched Phacelia)



Phacelia malvifolia:
Stinging Phacelia

Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)

Flowers: White, 5 petals, tiny; in 1 to 2 inch long caterpillar-like coils. Stamens projecting conspicuously beyond the corolla.

Blooms: April - June

Leaves: Maple-shaped, coarse with stinging hairs.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Damp slopes along trails. mostly at lower elevations.

Status: Native - Common.

Phacelia malvifolia
600x450 JPEG - 36K

Further description & Comment: 1 - 3 feet tall. The image at lower right shows the stinging hairs on the stems and leaves. When not in flower, this plant is usually discovered as you stroll peacefully along by a creek and your hand runs through a patch of it. Ouch!


600x450 JPEG - 40K



Phacelia ramosissima var. ramosissima
Branched Phacelia

Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)

Flowers: White (sometimes pale blue, but "dirty white" around here), 5 petals, in dense coils. Stamens projecting conspicuously beyond the corolla.

Blooms: May - August

Leaves: Pinnate leaflets alternately arranged, coarsely toothed.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Open, gravelly areas.

Status: Native - Common.

Phacelia ramosissima var. ramosissima
600x450 JPEG - 36K

600x450 JPEG - 36K

Further description & Comment: 2 - 3 feet in length, may be sprawling or erect. Stems with soft spreading hairs below the inflorescence.

The specimen here was found growing near Highway 1 just north of Green Valley.


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