Plant of the day: Oakland star tulip

The mariposa lilies are a treat, every one. I was happy to come across an Oakland star tulip, also known as Oakland mariposa lily (Calochortus umbellatus) on Pine Mountain the other day. It can be distinguished from its more common cousin, pussy ears (calochortus tomeii) because it’s petals are only hairy on the lower half, not all the way up. The rocky gaps between clumps of chaparral along the Pine Mountain fire road are an ideal place to find this low-growing lily, which likes nutrient-poor serpentine soils and rocky slopes. It’s worth noting that it can also be found growing under the trees or shrub canopy on moist hillsides, though. Oakland mariposa lily is listed as a rare plant in California because of its limited distribution – it’s mostly found in the Bay Area.

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