Spring Wildflowers

Below you'll find information on the species highlighted in the Tuesday Newsday video created by the Norris Center. If you have any questions, feel free to email norris@ucsc.edu, or explore the Collections and Resources part of our website.

Wild Irises, likely Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiania) - There are many species of Wild Iris in Santa Cruz. Douglas Iris is the most common, and is easily recognizeable with its showy purple flowers. As with other members of the Lilly family, Irises have enlongate leaves with paralell veins, and beautiful flowers that have parts (petals, sepals, etc.) in multiples of 3. Wild Irises of many species are commonly planted in gardens. 

Wild Raddish (Raphanus sativus) - Wild Raddish is a non-native species, likely introduced from Europe with European colonization of California. It is a member of the Mustard family (Brassicasiae), and thus has flowers with four petals spread in an "X" pattern. Most of the plant is edible, with the right preparation techniques. The flowers come in yellow, white and pink, but are actually controlled by multiple genes, and are the result of large-scale hybirdization between Raphanus sativus and R. raphanistrum.

Warty Leaf Ceanothus (Ceanothus papillosus) - Warty Leaf Ceanothus is one species in a very special California genus: Ceanothus, the California Lilacs. There are over 131 species of Ceanothus native to California, with many species that are rare or endemic to very small areas in California. All have bright clusters of blue, white or purple flowers in the spring, and are favorites of bees, flies and other pollinators. Obviously deer like them too!

Fremont's Star Lilly (Toxicoscordion fremontii) - Fremont's Star Lilly is an early blooming flower that is common in meadows around UCSC in early spring. It is poisonous to humans, but adored by many pollinators, including rare bee species. Some believe that the shorter Star Lilly's on Upper Marshall Field may be their own variety, or even species (Toxicoscordion fremontii var. minor).

Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menzeisii) - Baby Blue Eyes are a common spring wildflower elsewhere in California, but only found in a few places on campus. Elsewhere these blue and white flowers carpet the ground of meadows for a few weeks each spring. 

Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) - Seaside Daisy's are, as their name suggests, a common flower very close to the coast, in dunes and other maritime areas. They have large purple flowers that are visited often by a variety of pollinators. They also do quite well in gardens here in Santa Cruz.

Huckleberry (Vaccinum ovatum) - Huckleberry is a common understory shrub in the redwood forests and other habitats along the coast of California. In winter and spring it has the bell-shaped white or pink flowers typical of other plants in the Heath family (Ericaceae), but in the summer it produces berries very similar in shape and taste to Blueberries. In fact, Huckleberries are in the same genus as Blueberries! Huckleberries are an important food source for both Native Californians and a variety of animals.

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis latifolia) - Forget-Me-Nots are an invasive flower native to China, but established along the coast of California. Flowers are small and blue-white or blue-purple. The flowers and leaves of Forget-Me-Nots are smaller and more numerous than the similar-looking flowers of our native Hounds Tongue.

Purple Sanicle (Sanicula bipinnatifida) - Purple Sanicle is a member of the carrot family that is often found in grasslands and meadows throughout California. 

Witches Teeth (Hosakia gracilis) - Also known as the the Harlequin Lotus, this wonderfully colored flower is in the legume or pea family. Witches Teeth only grows along the coast of California, and is listed as "fairly endangered" in California by the California Native Plant Society. 

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) - The state flower of California, the California Poppy is a wonderful, bright orange flower found all over the state -- from backyards, to meadows -- outside of the tallest mountains and driest deserts. Interestingly, the California Poppy closes its flowers on cloudy days when pollinators are less likely to be visiting, and only opens for sunny days.

Wild Pansy (Viola pedunculata) - Also known as the California Golden Violet, these wild pansies are common early blooming flowers across the meadows of Central and Southern California. Study this flower shape closely: you'll start to notice that there are many Pansy (genus Viola) species on campus: in the redwood forests, in forest clearings, and in this one in the meadows. 

Don't forget to check out the plants section of our website for more local information on wildflowers aroud campus!