Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Beans & Peas. But also some trees, hedges, clovers, & vetches. Almost all have the distinctive "pea-like" flower, so often referred to in nature guides: 5 sepals, 5 petals, 10 stamens, and a single compartment pistil that developes a single row of seeds. The two lower petals are fused along their edges, to form the "keel", the two lateral or side petals often stand out from the keel to form the "wings", and the upper petal, usually the largest, forms the banner.

The fruit, when dry, usually splits open forcefully, effectively scattering the seeds. I have heard stories of walking along the trails on Montara Mountain while the Lupine are popping, but have yet to experience this. (Lupines, both annual and perennial variety, make wonderful garden plants, and can easily be propagated from seed.)

Many of the species found in the Bay Area are introduced aliens; some on purpose, some accidentally. On Montara Mountain, particularly bothersome invasives include Bird's Foot Lotus and the infamous French Broom, species that are so aggressive they inhibit any native vegetation from re-establishing in disturbed areas. Elimination is advised.

 Fabaceae is well represented on Montara Mountain. Members include:

French Broom
Genista monspessulana

Wild Sweet (Everlasting) Pea
Lathyrus latifolius

Pacific Pea
Lathyrus vestitus

Bird's Foot Lotus
Lotus corniculatus

Mat Forming Lotus
Lotus heermannii
var. orbicularis

Deer Weed
Lotus scoparius

Yellow Bush Lupine
Lupinus arboreus

Montara Mtn Blue Bush Lupine
Lupinus eximus

Varicolored Lupine
Lupinus variicolor

Bur Clover
Medicago polymorpha

Indian Meliot (Sour Clover)
Melilotus indica

Hop Clover
Trifolium campestre

Little Hop Clover
Trifolium dubium

Rose Clover
Trifolium hirtum

Giant Vetch
Vicia gigantea



Medicago polymorpha:
Bur Clover

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: Small. yellow, single "pea-like".

Blooms: All year.

Leaves: Tri-foliate leaflets, with margin strongly toothed. Distinct folds along center vein.

Fruit/Seeds: Round spiny spiral pods that split in half to release seeds.

Location: All areas, especially along trails and in disturbed areas.

Status: Alien Invasive - Common & Problematic.

Medicago polymorpha
600x450 JPEG - 48K
Further description & Comment: 6 - 18 inches long, with prostrate stems. When mature, the spiny seed pods detach and stick to your socks. Related to the feed crop alfalfa (Medicago sativa). One of many of the common invasive clovers on the mountain.



Melilotus indica:
Indian Meliot
(Sour Clover)

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: Tiny yellow flowers on long spikes with a smooth stem below.

Blooms: April - October

Leaves: Trifoliate leaves on long petioles, roughly toothed at margin. Distinct central vein, but not very folded.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: All areas, especially along trails and in disturbed areas.

Status: Alien Invasive - Common & Problematic.

Melilotus indica
600x450 JPEG - 40K

Further description & Comment: 1 - 4 feet, semi-erect. One of the common invasive clovers on the mountain.

As seen in the image to the left, the small drooping flowers, the smooth stem below the flowers and the toothed (teethed?) leaves make it easily recognizable.

Apparently, it tastes sour, but is also called "Sweet Clover" because it emits a sweet odor on hot days. There not being many hot days here on the coast, I can't attest to that.

<-- 600x450 JPEG - 36K



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