Scrophulariaceae, or Figwort, is often referred to as the Snapdragon Family. It is well represented on the coast and throughout the Bay Area, and many of it's species have been cultivated for commercial flower production. The family contains 3 of the most well-known California native plants: Paintbrush, Monkey Flower, and Beeplant. Some of the species are semi-parasitic, especifically the Castilleja (paintbrush), which derive some of their nutrients by joining their roots to those of other plants.
Scrophulariaceae flowers have distinctly two-lipped corollas, with the upper lip divided into 2 lobes, and the lower into 3. Mostly. The calyx is usually five-lobed, but may be four-lobed. Most have 2 pairs of stamen, but there may from 2 to 5, in pairs or individuals.
Flowers: Tubular, mostly white, pea like with pink upper lip and distinctive pink ridges along the lower white lip, in small spike at top of stem.
Blooms: March - June.
Leaves: Singular, lance-like, coarsely toothed serrated, dark green
Fruit/Seeds: Smooth green balls ripening to white; in dangling clusters; simultaneous or shortly following bloom, ripening in Summer.
Location: Lower elevations, disturbed wet areas, along trails, paths and water ditches.
Status: Alien - Invasive.
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|Further description & Comment: It's a problem: Becoming very common - spreading up from Park entrances. Seems to take over habitats of Variclored Lupine (Lupinus variicolor).|
Flowers: Red, leaf bracts of 4 or 6 long narrow lobes. Calyx lobes are linear and narrow.
Blooms: March - June.
Leaves: Variable, linear or 2 - 6 lobes.
Location: Dry Grassy trails.
Status: Native - Common.
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|Further description & Comment: 1 - 2 feet tall. Sometimes mistaken for C. subinclusa franciscana (Franciscan Paintbrush), but differing by its tighter, shorter flower head and lobed leaves. Extended tube-like petals distinguish it from Castilleja wightii (Seaside Paintbrush.)|
Flowers: 5 petals, Pink/purple to white/yellow, with lobes forming a yellow beak and "eye-spots" on the lower lip - an owl's face if you look just right.
Blooms: April - July.
Leaves: Green with whte tips near top of stem, linear at base.
Location: Open areas at higher (>1000 ft) elevations.
Status: Native -Uncommon.
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Further description & Comment: 4 to 12 inches tall, growing in small colonies. Groups of this delightful flower can be found from the saddle pass up to the peaks along the North Peak Access Road.
"Owl's Clover" is a common name that covers a number of different flowers, primarily of the genusesCastilleja. and Tryphysaria.. Older books list these as being in the Orthocarpus. genus, which is now used as a species name and a common name. Wouldn't want to confuse anyone, now, would we?
The specimen shown here was found up near South Peak, and may be a variant of Castilleja exserta - I misplaced my field notes, and trying to rekey from mmemory and a couple of photographs can be frustrating.
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