Sunday, April 17, 2011


baby blue eyes
Nemophila menziesii var. atomaria
Boraginaceae (formerly Hydrophyllaceae)

I asked Andy to stop the car as we were heading down from Fremont Peak so that I could get a closer look at the huge patches of white flowers on the side of the road. I love the detail in the petals. I wonder what it would look like under UV light. I totally did not notice these flowers going into the park, but as Carol LeNeve from CNPS pointed out to me, it matters which direction you're driving to notice many flowers. As an aside, I'm still looking for a wildflower book that can help identify roadside flowers going at 55 m.p.h. Hey, it's not always easy or convenient to stop the car to get a closer look.

This is another first flower sighting for me... I've never noticed the white version of baby blues eyes before. To be quite honest, I'm making an assumption about the variety here based on pictures of white blooms on CalPhotos (linked in the common name below the pictures). I have not found any plant list to double-check this variety. Calflora and Jepson do not show this variety as occurring in San Benito County. Even though Fremont Peak borders both San Benito and Monterey counties, these two floral resources seem to consider Fremont Peak as being in San Benito County.

I'm taking my cue from James of Lost in the Landscape, whose recent comment reminded me about not allowing distribution data to blind me from recognizing rarer plants. This is in stark contrast to how some people are so excited that they've found something so rare and so unusual that they make outlandish ID claims. Generally, my stance on Nature ID is that whatever I manage to find is not too unusual for the area.

8 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

Nice you saw this on the way out, a real show stopper.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I went on a wildflower hike last week in our Annadel park with some knowledgable people so I could learn what I was looking at. The leader was bemoaning the fact that he has yet found a guide book he really liked. The one that seemed the best so far he said, had pictures in black & white which he said made no sense. Yeah, what were they thinking? It took pictures and made notes. Half my pictures are blurry so I have to go back. Hard to photograph with twenty people milling around one flower.

Imperfect and tense said...

Wow, that is such a gorgeous flower.

On the ID guide debate, I often comment that birds, odes and flowers etc do not read them and so often turn up where they're not supposed to be.

Janet said...

This year our front yard tidy tips and baby blue eyes didn't come back, crowded out by some invasives we didn't catch in time because frankly we can't tell the early foliage apart. WE MISS THEM. :-(

James said...

Nice that you ignored the distribution data on this one. Really, it's collection data, and as Imperfect pointed out, the birds (and plants) don't read the books or her herbarium records. I'm glad you stopped when you saw something unfamiliar. It's cool that it's rare, but it's also a gorgeous little plant--love those pale little stripes!

Allison said...

Very delicate. I'm wondering if they hold up well in a vase, or if they die immediately like crocus do?

phyte club katie said...

Wanna do it? The "Guide to Wildflowers at 65mph?" (I'm going with 65 because 55 seems a little too tame....!)

Nature-Drunk said...

I am familiar with the desire to want to stop the car on a regular basis. Hubby has gotten used to it. In fact, I think he subconsciously is beginning to apply the brake when he sees roadside flowers...I felt it the other day as we drove through town where a patch of poppies swayed in the afternoon breeze. I won’t bring my little discovery to his attention : )

About viewing flowers from different locations: a friend who is a walking botanical encyclopedia just told be the best way to view tidy tips is from the south as they will track the sun across the sky facing this direction. Happy flower viewing!

Phyte Club Katie: If the two of you write this book, please let me know where to find it!