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.

Beach Layia (Layia carnosa)

By Michael Wood

The sunflower family (Asteraceae, also known as Compositae) is the largest family of dicots, consisting of some 1,300 genera and 21,000 species worldwide. It is […]

Checker Mallow (Sidalcea malvaeflora)

By Michael Wood

It’s the dawning of a new millennium. What better New Year’s resolution than to get out of the confines of our walled environments and tantalize […]

San Francisco Wallflower (Erysimum franciscanum)

By Michael Wood

When we think of the mustard family (Brassicaceae or Cruciferae), images of fields of yellow or violet-flowered weeds usually come to mind. Fallow agricultural fields […]

Fragrant Fritillary (Fritillaria liliacea)

By Michael Wood

Fritillaries belong to the lily family (Liliaceae), along with agaves, onions (Allium), goldenstar (Bloomeria), Brodiaea, Calochortus, blue dicks (Dichelostemma), fawn lily (Erythronium), true lilies (Lilium), […]

Franciscan thistle (Cirsium andrewsii)

By Michael Wood

In keeping with our theme from the previous newsletter, the subject of this issue is another rare member of the sunflower family indigenous to our […]

Diablo sunflower (Helianthela castanea)

By Michael Wood

Taxonomically speaking, few families are capable of causing attacks of sweating, heart palpitations and nervous laughter as the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Grasses aside, the composites, […]

The Monardellas

By Michael Wood

Everyone loves the mint family. We cook with it, it smells nice, it doesn’t die in our herb gardens, and one member is the original […]

Northern Coastal Salt Marsh

By Michael Wood

In this issue, I am focusing on another of San Francisco’s rarities, but this time it is a habitat, not a particular species. Northern coastal […]

Plants of Yerba Buena Island Part II

By Michael Wood

In the last issue, I presented a little of the colorful history of Yerba Buena Island (YBI) and hinted at the botanical treasures that have […]

Plants of Yerba Buena Island Part I

By Michael Wood

Departing slightly from the usual approach of this column, I’d like to introduce you to a familiar yet unexplored feature of the Bay, Yerba Buena […]

Coast Rock Cress (Arabis blepharopbylla)

By Michael Wood

The rugged, rocky slopes and ridges of the northern Santa Cruz Mountains provide stunning views and spectacular botanizing at any time of year. The northern […]

San Francisco Bay spineflower (Chorizanthe cuspidata var. cuspidata)

By Michael Wood

In the last newsletter, we discussed the extensive coastal dune communities that were present in San Francisco’s not too distant past. The coastal dune systems […]

Dune Gilia (Gilia capitata ssp. chamissonis)

By Michael Wood

Prior to 1835, Spanish andMexican settlements were restricted to the area around Mission Dolores and thePresidio, which were founded in 1776. Even as late as […]

San Francisco Campion (Silene verecunda ssp. verecunda)

By Michael Wood

Spring is once again upon us and this winter’s abundantrains have given us high hopes for an extraordinary spring wildflower seasonthroughout the Bay Area and […]

San Francisco Ferns

By Michael Wood

Ferns make up one of the most popular groups of plants, exhibiting a tremendous variety of forms, shapes and unique life cycles. Approximately 11,000 species […]

The Gumplants (Grindelias)

By Michael Wood

Just because spring is over doesn’t mean we have to put away our Jepson Manual and give up botanizing around the Bay. Summer and fall […]

San Francisco Orchids

By Michael Wood

Those of you who typically associate orchids with the tropical rain forests of South America, Africa or Asia might be surprised to learn that California […]

San Francisco Collinsia (Collinsia multicolor)

By Michael Wood

With the approach of spring, the San Francisco’s natural areas will begin their annual advertisement to the pollinators. Soon it will be time for all […]

San Francisco Owl’s Clover – Triphysaria floribunda

By Michael Wood

San Francisco owl’s-clover is another of San Francisco’s rare beauties in extreme danger of being lost from our city forever. This annual herb in the […]

Marin Dwarf Flax & serpentine (Hesperolinon congestum)

By Michael Wood

In the December issue of Yerba Buena News, we introduced Clarkia franciscana (which has just been federally listed as Endangered),a species occurring only on soils […]