Fabaceae: Pea Family — Miscellaneous

The pea family has 5-petaled flowers, consisting of a wide upper banner petal, two wing petals, plus two lower petals which are fused to form a boat-shaped keel.  Many genera have flowers in heads or spikes, comprising many individual flowers.  Examples are lupines and clovers.  The seed pod is generally a “legume”.  This is a long, flattish pod, swollen by the seeds, and splitting lengthwise along both the top and bottom.

Leather Root – Hoita macrostachya

Blooms:

May–Aug

Plant Height:

< 2 m

Flower Size:

Med cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Riparian

Notes:

This is an erect, slender plant with lanceolate leaves.  What look like branches are in fact elongated peduncles, bearing the pinkish-purple flowers in spike-like racemes.  These are longer and slimmer than those of Round-leaved Hoita (Hoita orbicularis, see below).

Round-leaved Hoita – Hoita orbicularis

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Riparian and other moist places

Notes:

A low-growing plant with creeping stems, this has pinkish-purple flowers that are similar to those of Leather Root (Hoita macrostachya, see above).  However, the raceme-like spikes are shorter and rounder.  The leaves are more distinctive, long-petioled with three rounded leaflets.

Chaparral Pea – Pickeringia montana var. montana

Blooms:

May–Aug

Plant Height:

1–3 m

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes and ridges, generally below 600 m

Notes:

Not really a montane plant, despite its scientific name.  It is a large, spiny, evergreen shrub with dense, intricate branches.  It has simple or palmately compound leaves, with 2–3 small elliptic to ovate leaflets.  The many flowers are distinctive, solitary and bright pink-magenta, with a yellowish-brown triangle at the base of the banner.

California Tea – Rupertia physodes

Blooms:

May–Sept

Plant Height:

< 60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Woodland or shaded or open brush

Notes:

Generally low-growing but sometimes erect, this has pinnate leaves with 3 triangular or lanceolate leaflets.  The flowers are creamy-white with purple shading  They are found in small spreading clusters with upturned tips, and a banner 10–14 mm long.  Often found in extended patches.

False Lupine – Thermopsis californica varcalifornica

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

60–90 cm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open places below 1500 m

Notes:

Appropriately named, since this the flower could easily be mistaken for a lupine with its tall spike of bright yellow flowers.  The flowers differ from true lupines (Lupinus spp.) by having ten free stamens, whereas those of true lupines are fused.  Also unlike true lupines, leaves are not in whorls.  They have 3 medium-sized (3–7 cm) ovate to oblanceolate leaflets, which are gray-green and softly hairy.