A number of years ago, I felt terribly deficient not knowing the names of the wildflowers on this ranch where I’ve spent my life. Having no botanical expertise, I began photographing them to identify from resources at home and online. It’s a hunt of sorts, a delightful escape to find new flowers and poses to shoot and journal here, hopefully something both useful and beautiful to share.

Kaweah Brodiaea, Dry Creek, 5.8.2011

Find more photographs of wildflowers and some of their native uses in the Dry Crik Journal archives: Wildflowers

11 responses to “WILDFLOWERS

  1. Beautiful photos, John. I did finally get a macro lens for my “old” minolta digital camera (my one and only ebay purchase, which came in less than a week from Japan a few months ago). Hope to come up Dry Creek next week to have some fun with it…Elsah

    Some possible name revisions, starting from the bottom.

    The local poppies are mostly frying pan poppies (endemic to our area), not the California ones. Cal Flora calls it a foothill poppy. It was Gene and Marion Gray who taught me the frying pan name, because the petals are a bit more open and flattened out like a frying pan.
    Eschscholzia caespitosa.

    What you are calling cranesbill (Cal Flora calls it cranesbill too), I also call wild geranium (Marion’s name for it). It is not a California native wildflower, but was naturalized from Europe. It is everywhere around here.
    Geranium columbinum.

    The blue dick is no longer classified as a brodiaea. But I still call it brodiaea because I just want to after all these years, and I don’t like it that the botanists changed the name. I guess they must have had a good (microscopic) reason.
    Dichelostemma capitatum

    Filaree is not really a wildflower in my mind, but actually is classified as a non-native invasive. It takes over and does not allow other wildflowers to grow. I am constantly trying to get it out of my garden. But lately, I have thought of pressing some of the tiny flowers to use in my art…..maybe I will soften my attitude toward it, but not too much. Erodium botrys.


  2. You are wealth, Elsah, to have on board. Thanks for info and citations. We’re early in the wildflower season yet, I believe, and certainly the poppies that show are small and I’m glad you’ve made the distinction between them and the ‘California’. I had hell identifying the Wallflower, unable to find the right subspecies on Calflora, where I don’t navigate well. I’m sticking with Common Brodiaea, too. And our staple, filaree, good feed for cattle, its leaves turn purple in dry times, refusing to die, come back to life with rain. It is indeed a pest on this side of the barbed wire, growing tall and luxuriant instead growing flat to the ground with grazing pressure. I often wonder if the mechanical device of the screw was first inspired by its seed – nothing new to nature – its little sail turning it into the earth on a breeze. Thanks Elsah.


  3. I am from England, and we have many different cranesbills. Wild geranium is the name often used for Geranium maculatum. If this cranesbill is G. maculatum then it is native to the US. I agree the photo looks more like G. columbinum which is long-stalked cranesbill.


  4. Thanks for posting these photos. I grew up in the Elderwood area and now live in Western Washington. I can’t tell you how desperately I miss spring in the Sierra foothills, especially the wildflowers. Your photos don’t stop the longing, only define it.


  5. sequoiariverlands

    Wow! Great job! So nice to see such a comprehensive taxonomy of the area’s wildflowers… and such beautiful portraits of those leafy, petaled friends. Thanks!


  6. John – the photos are beautiful and make me realize that yes, it really is time for me to turn digital. Is this the same camera that Robbin uses? More questions about that and lenses over a visit? Bob used to drive Connie and I up the mountain past Three Rivers so Connie and I could key out all the flowers. I miss those days. There were 3 books I used to refer to, and still never found all the flowers that we saw…….This may be “coals to Newcastle,” but the books are:
    Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley by Blackwell
    Wildflowers of California’s Central Valley and Neighboring Sierra by Shahzade
    Sierra Nevada Wildflowers by Wiese
    I loved seeing “Blow Wives” – it is in the Sunflower family of all things!!!
    Keep going with the poems about them……


  7. My Shazade is showing a little wear, which reminds me that I want to add my reference info. Identification becomes an obsession separate from the locating and photographing, adding another stack to my desk. I’m learning to use a Canon 60 mm Macro lens with my 40D, trying to capture unique aspects of some of these wildflowers this spring, to react to them rather than offer another ID photo, many of which are already archived (Natives>Flowers) on the old blog site. Archives

    Quite a spring, the flowers are having trouble competing with the tall feed!


  8. Lovely! And so useful.


  9. This is really great to see! I have been doing the same thing trying to learn the names of the flowers I see all the time. thanks! Hopefully we’ll get a good crop off them and grass next winter!


  10. Hi, I am working on a hiking brochure for fall 2104 for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy in Irvine CA and want to use a photo that I found on your site (Cucurbita foetidissima).


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