California botanizing part 4

Continuing our trip from last time towards the Cook and Green Pass on 05/26/2022, we soon left the paved roads for a dusty, windy gravel one heading up towards the pass. Leonard spotted this golden yellow Triteleia crocea along the road. It’s a beautiful native bulb that I wish was available from nurseries.

Yellow flowers of Triteleia crocea
Triteleia crocea

Brief aside: Fortunately, I can get the same sort of effect in my garden with the easily available golden lily leek, Allium moly. Not quite the same golden hue, but an acceptable substitute with pretty decent looking blue-green leaves (lower left of photo).

Yellow flowers of the golden lily leek, Allium moly
Allium moly

Nearby the golden triteleia was this very fragrant western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale). Unfortunately, not a native that would do well in our yard due to our pH 10 water.

Pinkish white and yellow flowers of western azalea, near Cook and Green Pass, California
Rhododendron occidentale

Leonard also spotted this yellow flower off a large embankment. It’s Aphyllon (Orobanche) fasciculatum, a type of plant without chlorophyll that parasitizes other plants. I took about 20 photos of this thing and you would think one of them would be in focus. But, you’d be wrong. This was the best of the bunch.

Yellow flowers of Aphyllon fasciculatum
Aphyllon fasciculatum

We continued on. Suddenly, I spotted something out the side of my window.

Rocky embankment with pink flowers of cliff lewisia, Lewisia cotyledon
Lewisia cotyledon

Cliff lewisias (Lewisia cotyledon)! And boy do they really live up to their name!

I had always sort of assumed that the lewisias that were for sale in nurseries were the result of an intensive breeding process for big, gaudy flowers. It was a bit jarring to see that they actually look like this out in nature.

Not really my favorite color palette, but there is beauty in there for sure. It’s like a garish 1970s circus clown ate too many peppermints. Hard to look away.

But wait! Even better than these lewisias and my absolute favorite plant over the entire trip was this plant tumbling down off of the rocks.

Looking closer, it looked like some sort of sedum with bright yellow flowers…

But with little offsets like a flattened Sempervivum or Rosularia or Aeonium, none of which occur naturally in the U.S.

I was absolutely enthralled with everything about this plant. Note how the lower leaves are red, making an attractive rim around the central green disk of leaves.

The flowering stems also turned bright red as they shot away from the rocky outcropping and exploded into a golden fireworks display.

Golden yellow flowers on a red stem of Sedum spathulifolium var purdyi
Sedum spathulifolium ssp. purdyi

Words cannot adequately express how much I love, love, love this plant. So exquisitely perfect in every possible way. The symmetry. The contrasting colors. The flat rosettes with offsets. Everything. Perfect.

It took a lot of hunting online, but I did finally identify it as Purdy’s sedum, Sedum spathulifolium ssp. purdyi. Strange to think that it is the same species as these much more commonly encountered forms of Sedum spathulifolium seen almost everywhere else in the nursery trade (below). These are much more upright and silvery blue in color, but I can sort of see how they are related to S. spathulifolium ssp. purdyi in the bottom two photos of two photos from my garden, where you can see the outer red rim of leaves and some ability to form little offsets.

Silver and red leaves of Sedum spathulifolium
Regular ole Sedum spathulifolium
Silvery blue and red leaves of Sedum spathulifolium
Another normal Sedum spathulifolium

In the same area was another nice sedum. I figured it would be pretty easy to identify later from the wildflower guidebooks, but I was wrong. There are many different sedum species in California that look very, very similar to this one.

A nice sedum species with flattened leaves near Cook and Green Pass, California
Sedum sp.

There were also some cute, tiny pink and yellow flowers of babystars, Linanthes bicolor.

Cute, tiny pink and yellow flowers of babstars, Linanthes bicolor
Linanthes bicolor

I’m going to end this post with more pictures of cat’s ears, which were growing at the bottom of the rocky slope.

More pictures to come.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. danger garden

    I am with you on how adorable that Sedum spathulifolium ssp. purdyi is. So, have you found it available for purchase anywhere? Do you think it would happily grow in our gardens?

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      I saw that Cistus had it at one time. I think it would happily grow in gardens. But, unlike other sedums, it doesn’t look like it would appreciate hot sun at all. The best looking plants had afternoon shade. I’ll let you know if I find any.

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