Allen and I are driving down another "back road" near Delta. We go down a gentle slope and around a bend ... yellow!
Prince's Plume! We stop to admire them. The plants are at least two feet tall with dull blue-green leaves and numerous flowering stalks. They're growing in black rock — mudstone? Solidified selenium? Or just plain rock? I wish I knew more about soils! In Al Schneider's photo the plants appear to be growing out of red sandstone.
The narrow leaves are long ... over two inches. The flowers begin to bloom at the bottom of the stalk, moving upwards as the plant matures. Thereby the plant may be in bloom for several weeks and the dried flower stalks can lead you to next spring's flowers. The flower stalks look lacey ... the petals are nearly a quarter of an inch long, the pollen-laden anthers extend well beyond the flowers, and the inch-long seed pods add to the lacey appearance of this perennial.
This member of the mustard family is an old friend from our Nevada days. There the plants could be five feet tall (longer growing season) and I always delighted in finding them. They're less frequent here on our 'dobes so this is a "find." They often occur in selenium soils. I kneel down and gently pinch a leaf ...
Properly, Prince's Plume is Stanleya pinnata, named in honor of Lord Edward Stanley, the nineteenth century British naturist. The term "pinnata" means feathered, referring to the divided basal leaves before flowering. My copy of "A California Flora" states that this plant grows from 1,000 to 5,000 feet. Such a wide distribution has led to a number of scientific names, but Prince's Plume seems to be the most accepted common name.
As I gaze at our "find," I can easily envision a proud prince astride his white horse with such golden flowers in his helmet. It surely fits!blog comments powered by Disqus