Focus on Rarities

Learn about the many rare and beautiful native plants of the San Francisco Bay Area through this series of informative and well written articles.

CEQA and Locally Rare Plants

By Michael Wood

This article is adapted from one I wrote for the California Native Grassland Association newsletter (spring 2013). The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted […]

The Extirpated Plants of San Francisco

By Michael Wood

Extinction is the loss of a species from throughout its range. Extirpation, also referred to as local extinction, is the loss of a species from […]

Hairy Woodsorrel (Oxalis pilosa)

By Michael Wood

If you garden in San Francisco, or just about anywhere in the western U.S., you’re likely familiar with Oxalis. A popular potted plant in its […]

Beach Pea (Lathyrus littoralis)

By Michael Wood

Prior to 1835, Spanish and Mexican settlements here were restricted to the areas around Mission Dolores and the Presidio, which were founded in 1776. Even […]

Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Francisco’s Natural Areas, pt. II

By Michael Wood

In my previous column, I presented a project on which I’ve been working for several years; a compilation of plant species lists prepared over the […]

Checklist of the Extant Flora of San Francisco

By Michael Wood

San Francisco is blessed for many reasons…natural beauty, climate, being far away from Washington D.C., and, of course, a rather remarkable diversity of native plant […]

Fremont Star Lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii)

By Michael Wood

If you’ve never heard of Fremont star lily, you probably won’t be bothered by the taxonomic changes it has recently undergone. Known as Zigadenus fremontii […]

The Sand Verbenas (Abronia spp.)

By Michael Wood

This past September I had the extreme good fortune of being invited to assist with a mapping effort of the coastal dune vegetation south of […]

Coast Manroot (Marah oregana)

By Michael Wood

If you’re surprised to learn that California is host to native species of cucumbers, you’re probably in good company. The group that brings us the […]

Leafy Fleabane (Erigeron foliosus)

By Michael Wood

A lot has changed since I sat down to write for the previous newsletter. I’m referring, of course, to the release of the second edition […]

Rushes (Juncus spp.)

By Michael Wood

As you recall, the flowering vascular plants (the angiosperms [which means “enclosed seed”], Division Magnoliophyta) are divided into two groups, the dicots (plants whose seedlings […]

Creek Dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

By Michael Wood

If you’re a gardener or a transplant from east of the Mississippi, when you reminisce about spring, you probably think “dogwoods”. Cultivars of eastern dogwood […]

Indian Paintbrush

By Michael Wood

Even still, after all these years of exploring hills and dales, there’s one group of wildflowers of which I cannot resist stopping to photograph. Whether […]

Scarlet Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis)

By Michael Wood

With blossoms reminiscent of red lipsticks on a stalk, scarlet monkeyflower is eye-catching indeed. A perennial herb found in moist to wet areas along streams […]

San Francisco Woodland Star (Lithophragma affine)

By Michael Wood

San Francisco woodland star is one of those pretty little herbs you encounter in the early spring on our coastal hillsides, along with similar beauties […]

Large-Flowered Sand-Spurrey (Spergularia macrotheca var. macrotheca)

By Michael Wood

Who doesn’t love to walk along the seashore? To gaze out over the waves toward the horizon? Maybe catch a sunset? Of course, while you’re […]

The Tarweeds

By Michael Wood

If you’ve walked through any of the Bay Area’s grasslands in the summer, you’ve no doubt notice patches of dainty daisies with small white or […]

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea)

By Michael Wood

Stinging nettle might seem an odd subject for this column. It’s certainly not rare. And who on earth wants to have an encounter with a […]

Franciscan Manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana)

By Michael Wood

In previous articles, we’ve had the opportunity to pass on exciting news regarding the discovery in San Francisco of botanical treasures long lost or seldom […]

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

By Michael Wood

A favorite component of the lush gardens of Europe and the eastern states are the columbines. Fancied for their lacy foliage and exquisite blossoms, the […]