Tag Archives: California native plant

Plant of the day: wild hyacinth

A flash of white against the frog-colored palette of a wet meadow. A loose cluster of white flowers atop a long, smooth stem. Each flower is an open bowl with the petals fused at the base, then tapering into six delicate points. This is wild hyacinth, or Triteleia hyacinthina. It grows in wetlands and along creeksides, as well as in grasslands and forests throughout much of the state.

The six stamens alternate in height, and flatten out so their bases nearly meet, making what looks like a crown set inside the bowl of petals. Green ribs run up the middle of each fleshy white petal.

There is another pale-colored Triteleia in the area (marsh triteleia, which can be whitish but is purple tinged – at least at the midrib if not elsewhere). You can tell the two apart because the wild hyacinth is bowl-shaped when seen from the side, while the marsh triteleia is narrower, shaped more like a funnel or a horn and the stamens are harder to see, hidden deep inside this vessel.

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Plant of the day: Pacific blacksnakeroot

This plant most often presents itself as shiny, three-lobed leaves that grow close to the ground. What is that plant? It is unobtrusive yet distinctive. In the spring it sends up a tall spindly stalk, which splits into branches, each topped with a small head of greenish-yellow flowers. It is Sanicula crassicaulis, also known as Pacific blacksnakeroot, Pacific sanicle, or gamble weed.

A similar species, Coast blacksnakeroot is also common in Marin, but it has yellower flowers and some subtle differences in the fruit.

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