Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Members of Polemoniaceae found in the Bay Area are all natives, even though many of them have become popular garden plants. Almost all are herbaceous annuals, with 5 calyx lobes, 5 corolla lobes, 5 stamens attached to the corolla, and a pistil that developes 3 seed-producing sections.

On Montara Mountain, members of Polemoniaceae include Gilia clivorum (Grassland Gilia), Linanthus parviflorus (Common Linanthus), and Navarretia squarrosa (Skunkweed).

On the coastal bluffs at the edge of the Montara Mountain sea terrace, we have one very rare and special member:

Linanthus croceus



Linanthus croceus:

Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Flowers: 5 petals, bright yellow with two red dots on face toward base of each petal; on long pediel, 1/2 in. across

Blooms: May 1999

Leaves: Oppsite, with 5 lobes, forming a star-like ring on lower stem; higher up the stem they bunch to form a fingered-globe below the flower.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: One very small area of coastal bluff below Montara Mountain.

Status: Native - Very Rare and Endangered

Linanthus croceus

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Further description & Comment: 2 - 3 inches tall, herbaceous annual.

Linanthus croceus has not been seen since it was identified decades ago by Alice Eastwood on Point San Pedro at the south end of Pacifica. This small population, the only one known to exist, was discovered in 1998 by Half Moon Bay Botanist Toni Corelli. Over the past year, Robyn Battaglia completed the analysis and confirmation of its identity as part of her thesis work at San Francisco State University.

Members of the California Native Plant Society will be filing the discovery with the State and Federal governments for rare & endangered listing.

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L. croceus tends to grow in small colonies like the one shown here

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A close-up of the leaf stuctures below the flowers.

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A picture of the immediate bluff habitat, with sea pinks, bluff lettuce and coast buckwheat.

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One of the plants just starting to form seeds - updates as they develope.

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