Boraginaceae: Borage Family — Emmenanthe & Eriodictyon

Most members of the Borage family have their flowers arranged in coiled (scorpiod) cymes.  They bloom from the base upwards, gradually unfurling like a scorpion’s tail or caterpillar, as new flowers emerge.

Whispering Bells – Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

A fire follower, also found on recently disturbed ground such as shale slopes

Notes:

This is many-branched, with a loose growth habit.  Leaves are simple, toothed to pinnately lobed.  There are clusters of pale lemon, bell-shaped flowers, erect in bud, but becoming pendulous as the flowers mature.  Photo #4 by CJH.

Whispering Bells

Pink-flowered Whispering Bells – Emmenanthe penduliflora var. rosea

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

5–85 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Talus slopes or rocky or sandy soils

Notes:

These flowers are typically pink, much paler inside than out, and are much less common than the yellow-flowered Whispering Bells (var. penduliflora, see above).  White flowers are occasionally found.  The stem and leaf axes are commonly reddish.  Leaves may be toothed or pinnately lobed.

California Yerba Santa – Eriodictyon californicum

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

0.6–2.5 m

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes

Notes:

This shrub has clusters of funnel-shaped white to purplish flowers, 6–10 mm long.  The leaves are up to 15 cm, narrow, oblong to lanceolate, entire or toothed.  The leaves may be covered in a sticky resin, which can appear black from a fungus.  Photos #3-4 by CJH.

Yerba Santa, California
Yerba Santa, California
Yerba Santa, California
Yerba Santa, California

Woolly Yerba Santa – Eriodictyon tomentosum

Blooms:

May–July

Plant Height:

1–3 m

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes, mainly inland and in Santa Lucias

Notes:

Like California Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum, see above), this is a shrub with leaves about the same size and shape, but is otherwise quite different.  Both twigs and leaves are covered in dense white-woolly hairs giving it a silvery-blue to -gray appearance.  Leaves are entire to coarsely toothed.  Flowers are in dense fuzzy bunches of coiled, tiny, very light lavender to white, glandular, urn-shaped flowers.