California ponysfoot is a low, mat-like plant that is a common sight on lawns and meadows–but you might not have noticed it. The round, slightly fuzzy leaves of this ponysfoot (Dichondra donelliana) are about the size of a quarter, and are easily overlooked as they blend in with clover and grass. In fact, its lookalike cousin Dichondra carolinensis is sometimes planted as a lawnlike groundcover in southern states. The creeping stems root easily at the leaf nodes and help them spread.
If you find yourself in a patch of ponysfoot, part the leaves and look close to the ground. You may be rewarded with the sight of the diminutive, pale-petalled flowers with pretty purple anthers. I took these pictures a few weeks ago, but we’re nearing the end of the season: they mainly bloom in winter months, January through March.
California ponysfoot is endemic to the state of California. There are two other species of Dichondra listed in the state; however California ponysfoot is the only one that is common in the northern and central parts of the state.
(This is an updated version of a post I first wrote in January 2013, since I finally got some good photos of the ponysfoot flowers).
One response to “Plant of the day: California ponysfoot”
Hey, I found you while looking for information on Dichondra donelliana. I volunteer with the Friends of Sausal Creek, have helped collect seeds, and have working in our native plant nursery for 15 years.
We recently found ponysfoot in the park — a place I’ve walked past many times, you’re definitely right, it’s inconspicuous! It’s growing in a highly disturbed spot, between a sidewalk and a driveway and under some trees that are not native to the park.
So I’m wondering if you can tell me a bit more about the places you find it. And, if you were giving advice to gardeners about growing it, what would you say? (We might sell some at our plant sale, we brought a bit to the nursery and it was wildly happy with its new home! Spread like mad!)