Indian paintbrush is named for the top of the plant looking like it has been dipped into a can of paint. The tubular flowers are slender and clustered near the stem tips and are hidden among the colorful bracts. The bracts, or modified leaves, are usually scarlet-colored or occasionally yellow and are often mistaken as the flowers. Stems are woody and purplish in color, and like the flowers and leaves, are hairy. Indian paintbrush is able to produce its own food, but often supplements its diet by tapping into the roots of adjacent plants. Normal blooming time is February through May. This wildflower can be found growing on hills and is pollinated by hummingbirds and bees.
A member of the pea family, stinging lupine is very common in the local foothills and canyons. As the name suggests, this native wildflower demands caution because the stem and leaves are coated in yellow, stiff hairs that sting when touched. The leaves are shaped like a human hand with many fingerlike segments radiating out from the center. The flowering stalks may be up to a foot tall, with the flowers arranged in a dense vertical column. Flowers range in color from red-violet to magenta with whitish or yellowish patches with purple flecks. Normal blooming time is March through May. In this lupine, like many others, the yellowish patch on the flower changes to a dark magenta after the flower is pollinated.
Don’t let the name of the wild cucumber fool you-there is nothing edible about this plant, it is poisonous. Wild cucumber is easy to spot for its green, vigorous vines with small white fuzzy flowers. Both male and female flowers appear on the same plant; male flowers appear in clusters while female flowers appear usually individually. Wild cucumber is also known as manroot or bigroot because its root can be as large as a man. Having a large tuber helps the plant to grow quickly after a wildfire. Normal blooming time is January through April, and is pollinated by insects.
A native wildflower which prefers a drier habitat is the bush monkey flower. The bush monkey flower is named for the markings on the seed, which resemble an ape. It may have also been names for the interesting shape of the flower. Bush monkey flowers are shrubs that can grow up to 6 feet high. Flowers range from light orange to pale yellow or red-orange due to the hybridizing in this group of plants. The one-inch flowers many number up to 4 per node, and bloom in March through July. They are mostly found in coastal sage scrub and chaparral in habitats that range from flat, sandy soils to steep rocky hillsides. The flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds, bees, and moths.
Commonly seen on the Land is the fuchsia-flowered gooseberry. These shrubs are large, and can grow up to 10 feet high. The fuchsia-flowered gooseberry has tubular flowers that are bright red and deep dark shiny green leaves. The spiny stems also help the ease of identifying this native plant. The flowers bloom in January through May, and produce an extensive amount of nectar. It is not uncommon to see an Anna’s hummingbird buzzing around the flowers. Preferring moist natural habitats, the gooseberry is found among coastal sage scrub and oak woodlands in canyons.