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



Trifolium hirtum:
Rose Clover

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: White to Pink to Red to Orange; clover spikes from hairy, globe shaped cluster on top of medium, thin stem.

Blooms: Spring.

Leaves: Three petaled, clover like but wthout any distinct markings.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Grassy areas, disturbed sites at lower elevations. found on McNee Ranch State Park quarry floor and terraces. Also, observed along Highway 1 along the San Mateo County MidCoast area.

Trifolium hirtum

600x450 JPEG - 32K

Status: Alien Invasive - Common & Problematic.

Further description & Comment: 2 - 6 inches tall. This unidentified alien invasive species of Trifolium has slowly been working it's way from the highway into McNee Ranch State Park, attacking the habitats of the natives Lupinus variicolor (Varicolored Lupine) and Lotus scoparius (Deerweed).



Vicia gigantea:
Giant Vetch

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: Rose to Red-purple, pea like; in clusters hanging from one side of long stems.

Blooms: April - June.

Leaves: Up to 12 pairs of leaflets per pyramid shaped (in outline) leaf, tendril at tip.

Fruit/Seeds: In flat, green pods which turn black when ripe. July.

Location: All trails and areas, shadier spots.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: Mounding vine with tendrils; smooth stems. 2 - 6 ft long.

Vicia gigantea
600x450 JPEG - 32K

Above, a good view of the pea-like seed pods developing from the flower pistils.

 Left: Note the drooping flower raceme and the many pairs of leaflets and tendril per leaf. The numerous leaflets distinguish it from other pea-like climbers encountered on Montara Mountain.

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