Boraginaceae: Borage Family — Baby Blue-eyes & Fiesta Flower

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

Common Eucrypta – Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia varchrysanthemifolia

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

20–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Roadsides, after fires and rocky places near coast

Notes:

This is an erect plant with a loose, sprawling growth habit.  Many small flowers, 4–8 mm across, generally 8–15 per branch.  Flowers are bell-shaped, whitish with blue-purple veins. Leaves are glandular and ciliate, 2–3-pinnately lobed.  Lower leaves are larger than the upper. Unlike Nemophila and Pholistoma (see below), there are no appendages between the calyx lobes.

Baby Blue-eyes – Nemophila menziesii var. menziesii

Blooms:

Feb–June

Plant Height:

10–30 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassland, woodland, chaparral

Notes:

A strikingly pretty flower, quite common in early spring and unmistakable.  Flowers are pale to mid-blue with a white center. Black dots and dark blue veins may mark the petals.  Pure white forms are occasionally found, and there is a separate variety (var. atomaria) which is pure white with black dots from the center more or less to the petal margin.  The photo on the right may be this variety, or simply a white form of var. menziesii.

Small-flowered Nemophila – Nemophila parviflora var. parviflora

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

Stems 10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Woodland

Notes:

The tiny flowers are no more than 5 mm across, pure white or pale blue but without any dark spots or streaks.  Styles and stamens are included.  Leaves are asymmetric and noticeably hairy, 1–4 cm long and generally 5-lobed.

Meadow Nemophila – Nemophila pedunculata

Blooms:

Feb–July

Plant Height:

Stems 10–30 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Many

Notes:

This plant has bristly stems, and 10-35 mm leaves with 5-9 fleshy lobes.   Stems are often prostrate.  Small flowers (2-8 mm across), white or blue.  Most are white with small blue streaks or purple spots on the petals.  On Ft. Ord, they are white, without spots but may show a purplish tinge.  The photos shown here are the Ft. Ord type.  Photos by Cliff Halverson

Nemophila, Meadow (Ft. Ord type)
Nemophila, Meadow (Ft. Ord type)
Nemophila, Meadow (Ft. Ord type)
Nemophila, Meadow (Ft. Ord type)

Fiesta Flower – Pholistoma auritum var. auritum

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

20–120 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Ocean bluffs, woodland, streambanks

Notes:

Very common in early spring in woodland.  It has a vine-like, sprawling growth habit with a profusion of bluish-purple (occasionally lighter-colored) flowers. Related to Baby Blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii, see above), it has the same reflexed appendages between the sepals.  These and the stems have small hooks, which readily attach to clothing – hence its use as an inexpensive corsage.

White Fiesta Flower – Pholistoma membranaceum

Blooms:

Feb–May

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Bluffs, wooded slopes

Notes:

Much less common than the purple-colored Fiesta Flower (Pholistoma auritum, see above), but with a similar vine-like, sprawling growth habit.  Its flowers are smaller (< 1 cm across) and pure white with a purple spot on each lobe.  Often found in profusion, especially in the shade of large oak trees.