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.

Locally Significant Plants Of San Francisco

By Michael Wood

Over the years, I’ve touched on the subject of what makes a plant species “significant” in a legal or biological sense. In fact, that is […]

California Saxifrage (Saxifraga californica)

By Michael Wood

It’s not all that often that we get to report some positive news regarding our local flora. More often than not, especially in the intensively […]

Kellogg’s Yampah (Perideridia kelloggii)

By Michael Wood

I’ve often wondered about the affinities some of our native wildlife species have for introduced plant species. How did those creatures manage before the Europeans […]

Douglas’ Bluegrass (Poa douglasii)

By Michael Wood

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this column, you probably know that I have a thing for our native grasses. Previous discussions have covered […]

California Larkspur (Delphinium californicum)

By Michael Wood

Always a hit in any springtime garden are the larkspurs. Most noted for their tall spikes of deep blue, white, or red flowers with the […]

Hooker’s Fairy Bells (Prosartes hookeri)

By Michael Wood

Although the common name might look familiar, you probably don’t recognize the Latin name of this member of the lily family (Liliaceae). The generic designation […]

Coast Silk Tassel (Garrya elliptica)

By Michael Wood

Shifting our focus far from the shores of San Francisco Bay, let’s turn our attention to the scrub-covered coastal hillsides. Hidden among the chaparral, scrub, […]

California Seablite (Suaeda californica)

By Michael Wood

It’s not often, in the course of our amblings, that we happen upon an endangered species. Not the kind whose days just seem numbered because […]

Saltmarsh Dodder (Cuscuta salina var. major)

By Michael Wood

Beginning in May, as you drive past the salt marshes rimming San Francisco Bay, you might begin to notice an orange hue starting to spread […]

Choris’s Corn Flower (Plagiobothrys chorisianus var. chorisianus)

By Michael Wood

Unlike much of the rest of the country, winter in the Bay Area brings renewed life and reminders that spring is not far off. And […]

Quillworts: Nuttall’s Quillwort (Isoetes nuttallii) & Flowering Quillwort (Lilaea scilloides)

By Michael Wood

As we welcome the rainy season in California, as the hills awaken from their drought-induced dormancy, I thought I’d introduce two taxa that will soon […]

San Francisco’s Native Cherries

By Michael Wood

San Francisco’s Native Cherries : Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata), Hollyleaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. demissa) When studying vegetation associations, we have […]

Yellow Mariposa Lily (Calochortus luteus)

By Michael Wood

Based entirely on aesthetics, perhaps no other group of California’s native wildflowers incites more awe than the lilies. Maybe due to the fact that so […]

Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)

By Michael Wood

Having grown up in the nursery business in southern California, my interest in plants centered solely around the unusual and the exotic. In particular, plants […]

California Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)

By Michael Wood

In their most familiar form, hazelnuts, or filberts, are marble-sized nuts produced primarily from two European species, Corylus avellana and C . maxima. Hazelnuts are […]

Coffee Fern (Pellaea andromedifolia)

By Michael Wood

The true ferns, which belong to the Division Pterophyta (Class Filicopsida), first evolved during the so-called Coal Age or Carboniferous Period, which extended from 345 […]

Tuberous Sanicle (Sanicula tuberosa)

By Michael Wood

Here in San Francisco, with relatively little undeveloped land and three quarters of a million inhabitants, you might be inclined to think that there isn’t […]

Dune Tansy (Tanacetum camphoratum)

By Michael Wood

In several previous issues, I’ve written about San Francisco’s coastal dunes and some of the plant species that inhabit them. Many of the beautiful, intriguing, […]

Coastal Terrace Prairie

By Michael Wood

California, which is known for its phenomenal diversity of plant and animal life, is equally remarkable for its diversity of distinct and not-so-distinct plant communities. […]

Bryophytes – Those Fascinating Mosses and Liverworts

By Michael Wood

Mosses and liverworts are bryophytes, non-vascular green plants. Having no vascular, or circulatory, system, these small plants must absorb their moisture from the atmosphere through […]