Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor):
You may be familiar with the various types of Lupine, which are often scattered around the grasslands and group in showy displays on hillsides. This lovely, little plant is the Lupinus bicolor, or Miniature lupine. It is much smaller in size than other lupines, hence its name! It grows in similar locations as the California poppy and is very common throughout California. Lupines support many types of wildlife, including the Painted Lady and Arrowhead Blue butterflies. In addition to supporting wildlife, they also help other plants through nitrogen-fixing. When the plant dies, it releases its fixed nitrogen to the air and soil so other plants may utilize it.
Frying Pan poppy (Eschscholzia lobbii):
This photo of the lovely, little annual was captured at Rancho Seco’s Howard Ranch Trail, where vernal pools can be found. Though it does look slightly like the California poppy, the Frying Pan poppy is much smaller are always appears to be more yellow in color. Blooming from early March through the end of May, this annual can be seen growing along the edge of the trail at Rancho Seco. In addition to its beauty, it also provides nutrients for wildlife, such as rabbits, which eats its leaves!
Common fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia):
This common, yellow, annual herb can be found scattered throughout the Preserve, especially in the open grassland areas and along the trails. Common fiddleneck can be found all over coastal and central California. Like the head of a violin, or fiddle, the fiddleneck gets its name because of the delicate curve of its yellow bloom. This native plant can spread fast and is often treated like a weed, however it sure is lovely to look at!
Field Owl’s-clover (Castilleja campestris):
This plant is found in our local vernal pools and usually blooms April to May. Similar to another vernal pool plant, Butter N Eggs, the Field Owl’s-clover is set apart because its brackets are a simple green, unlike the others that have colorful, purple brackets. Because they are so sensitive to the environment, some years there can be thousands and other years there can be none!