The last decade of my life has been intense with wildflowers. I tried, before that, to learn some of their names, mostly from my husband, and from nature centers in the forests that we camped in with the children. It seemed too expensive to buy wildflower guides, and the only time I would think of it was on vacation.
Then daughter Pippin turned into a naturalist. Then she got a camera, and we had computers, and wowie, Let the Learning Begin! I now have such a collection of (mostly) her pictures on my computer, taken wherever she may go, but mostly in California. Several times I have been where there were many flowers, and when my husband would let me stop and look at them, so I am learning more.
This summer was a treasury of flowers, and I actually did learn the names of more than three, but to keep this post short I will just tell you about the three that stumped Pippin and me. I looked in six wildflower guides, she looked I don’t know where, and we couldn’t figure them out. My friend Herm put me in touch with her friends who live near Yosemite, visit there nearly weekly, and are cataloging the flowers in the park. They knew right away what these three were, so I give credit to them, and when they come out with a book I’ll let you know.
My picture doesn’t do justice to this plant that makes a soft lavender haze along the roadway, breaking the monotony of green trees and and grey pavement. Somehow from your car the impression and depth of color are more intense, though pastel. As you may remember, I called it purple haze or lavender mist. I just saw it last week in the more southern Sierras.
I sent this photo to my experts, and they told me it is Lessingia leptoclada. Wife Expert said that if she were naming flowers she would call it Lavender Groundsmoke. See? we think alike! But the common name, I discovered, is actually Sierra Vinegarweed. Not so appealing.
Mr. Glad was the discoverer of this flower on his hike up Clouds Rest in Yosemite. My Experts said it is rare in Yosemite and is Primula suffrutescens or Sierra Primrose. They had just “searched it out” and found it themselves two days before he did, on Polly Dome.
About this bright one they said, “Another favorite of ours…Ipomopsis agregata ssp. bridgesii, Scarlet Gilia (it used to be Gilia aggregata), also called Skyrocket, in the Phlox family. We see it every year along Tioga Road, and it was especially abundant this year.” It’s another one that makes a swath of color along the highway, as in the picture at top.
There you have it, a taste of my beginner’s nature studies.