Plant of the day: muilla

Muilla_maritima3Delicate muilla is famous for being allium (the Latin name for the onion family) spelled backwards. And it’s true that superficially Muilla maritima (sea muilla) does look like an onion. Flowers have six dark-tipped stamens aligned tidily with six pale, tongue-shaped petals. From 4 to 70 flowers grow in open umbels on each plant. Leaves are long, narrowly strap-like. One easy way to tell that you’re looking at a muilla, not an allium, is the lack of an onion odor. Also, muilla has small bracts as opposed to the large bracts which enclose the entire umbel of flowers on young allium.

Sea muilla grows in the coast ranges and Central Valley, and down into southern California. It can be found in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, grassland, woodland, and has a loose affinity with serpentine soil. The photos here were taken at the Jepson prairie.

It is in the Themidaceae (Brodiaea family).

Muilla_maritima1

Sea muilla (Muilla maritima)

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