Plant of the day: false babystars

Leptosiphon_androsaceus1Elegantly colored clusters of flowers sprout from a prickly head of leaves. This is false babystars (Leptosiphon androsaceus), one of the many similar-looking species in the area. I tend to call them all “linanthus”, the groups former scientific name which doubles as a common name for some species.

False babystars grow in shallow and serpentine soils and is particularly fond of rocky canyonsides. Blooms can be lavender, pink, or white–but most commonly are lavender petals with a purple throat, as shown here. The long threadlike stalk between the leaves and the flower is actually part of the blossom itself–the technical term for this flower shape is “salverform.”

The easiest way to tell false babystars apart from its closest lookalike, L. parviflorus, or variable linanthus, is because the foliage is hairy but not glandular. Also the petals lobes (the part that look like petals, not the skinny tube below) are somewhat larger, usually greater than 8 mm. Leptosiphon_androsaceus2

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