Rock lettuce (Dudleya cymosa) is one of the few native succulents here on the central coast. In the spring and summer the rosettes of fleshy leaves shoot up colorful stalks of flowers. The stalk itself is red, while the many narrow flowers range from orange to yellow. The brilliant blooms are narrow and always appear to be on the verge of opening–but look close and you’ll see six pale pollen-dusted stamens hidden among the flowers’ pointy petals.
Rock lettuce can be distinguished from its cousin, sea lettuce, because it tends to grow inland rather than quite close to the coast. It can be seen throughout most of the state, from the Sierras to the coastal counties. Also even the yellow flowers tend to have a hint of orange in them, while sea lettuce blooms are a chillier, lemony hue.