A mass of pale flowers grows down the center of an old ranch road like a long narrow carpet. Walk onto this carpet and you see mound after mound of white flowers with yellow centers, growing atop a heap of pale, frilly leaves. This is Douglas’ meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii ssp. douglasii); other subspecies are entirely white or entirely yellow.
Douglas’ meadowfoam is native to California and Oregon, where it likes to grow in vernal pools, moist fields and meadows, or along the edges of seep springs. Often you can find it growing in great masses, such as in Chileno Valley or (according to the Marin Flora) near Phoenix Lake.
The yellow-and-white subspecies is by far the most common, and grows widely throughout northern and central California. The yellow is mainly found along the road to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, and only grows in Marin and San Mateo; the white is more widespread but still not as common. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the many other similar-looking species of meadowfoam that grow elsewhere in the state!
2 responses to “Plant of the day: Douglas’ meadowfoam”
Hi, I went to Phoenix Lake last week but didn’t see any meadowfoam there at all, how did I miss it ?
The all-white form is rare in Marin but can be seen by Highway 1 north of Tomales in a west-of-the-roadside ditch about 300yards before you cross the bridge into Sonoma County. Parking is easiest at a pull-out to the e. of the road at the top of the hill leading to the flatlands which incidentally have a population of the rare Lasthenia conjugens in a sheep pasture .
Great! I go on that road often, I’ll have to stop & see if I can spot those two species! Though it sounds like there’s no public access to the sheep pasture 🙂
The Phoenix Lake reference was from the Marin Flora, sorry about that–I try to be careful to note when it’s something I haven’t actually seen but that one slipped through. I almost didn’t mention it at all since I can’t think of where that population is/would be…