by Doreen Smith
Marin has one species, two varieties, of this early-flowering annual
yellow daisy-like flower. Blennosperma nanum var. nanum, common
Blennosperma, which means sticky-seed, is the most common variety and is
known from several Marin locations. Plants were first found by Hans Leschke
in grassland at the Big Rock area off Lucas Valley Road (see J.T. Howell’s
1970 Marin Flora). It has since been discovered to be abundant in years of
normal rainfall in other Marin sites of coastal grassland, mostly those with
a serpentine soil. Already a few are blooming at the initial location, only
a few yards from the roadside trailhead, by the Bay Trail fire-road to Loma
Plants are only a few inches tall. The leaves are much divided and
fleshy, a bright green. Each flower head has an outer, single row of green
involucral bracts, often they are brown-red tipped and united at the base.
Next, inward, are several fertile, female, petal-like ray flowers each with
a forked yellow stigma. Then at the center are many small five-petalled
disc flowers. These produce white, fertile pollen only in spite of having a
relatively-large and obvious white, head-like stigma.
Blennosperma nanum var. robustum plants are larger in all respects and are
less-common State-wide. They are a rare variety of the species, and they have
yellow pollen and grow on sandy soils on Point Reyes. Especially vigorous
plants have been seen and photographed for Calphotos.org at or near Fort
Bragg in Mendocino County. Usually they flower in late February-April, often
The other California species does grow somewhat locally but has not yet been
seen in Marin. It’s called Sonoma sunshine, Latin name Blennosperma bakeri.
It is a rare species of vernal pools, the leaves are less-divided than those
of common Blennosperma and the ray florets have red forked stigmas.
The only other Blennosperma species in the world, according my sources, is
native to Chile.
Text by Doreen Smith
Photo of Point Reyes Beach by Doreen Smith.
Other photos by Vernon Smith.