On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Monday, February 11, 2008

What is this plant?

This flower has been driving me nuts for more than a month. It grows wild in the vineyards of northern California. The Valley of the Moon is loaded with it.

Usually there is a light yellow, tall mustard that grows in fields and as a cover crop when the vines are just bare sticks. Mixed in there has always been a little of this plant, smaller in size and darker in color. But this year there are fields and fields of it. It's growing wild along the roadside, in the vineyards and even in my neighborhood. It is low to the ground like a dandelion but can get much taller. The leaves are oblong, alternated and not serrated. It is orangey like a California poppy but the flowers are completely different and are quite small.

I e-mailed Ranger Rick at the county parks but no one answered. Today I e-mailed the winery that has the most I've ever seen and hope they will respond soon. I have a substantial wildflower book but couldn't recognize the photograph or description. Ditto for all the googling I did. Most of the people I've asked in person haven't even noticed it even though there are about a gazillion around. With that number it has to be something common but no one seems to be able to identify it. In the meantime, I'm losing sleep over it!


  1. Barb,
    It may be the wild marigold. Check here to see if this looks correct

  2. Gosh, Barbara, now that you mentioned it, I've seen it, too. I drove over to Anderson Valley yesterday (near Philo) and there were LOTS and LOTS of them. Haven't a clue what they are, but the color is gorgeous, isn't it?

  3. Is it this ... AKA "sonoma sunshine?"


    Calflora is an excellent database. You can search using a variety of terms. I entered Sonoma county and aster as it seems to be an asteracea type of flower from your drawing. You might be able to search on some other terms since you saw it up close. Let us know what you find!

  4. Hi Brenda - I did check that site and don't think it fits. The wild marigold has an elongation directly under the bloom whereas this one has a small round nub that expands into the flower. (Obviously I don't know the right words for this!) Thank you for the suggestion but I don't think it's a match. - Barbara

  5. Virginia -- Well good, since you've seen it, could you lie awake tonight and ponder so I can get some sleep! - Barbara

  6. Karen -- My internal jury is still out on your suggestion. I wish the site showed the leaves. In fact, in the clusters I've seen the leaves are quite present and I'm surprised they didn't show up in the photos on the site. My other concern has to do with the little white protuberances in the photo that showed up in the center of the flower. I don't recall seeing those -- and the ones I brought home closed up in the night so I can't look! I'll keep it in mind as a possibility. Thank you. - Barbara

  7. I found three women in my watercolor class today who knew what it is - wild calendula. I brought a hunk of it into the room and passed it around. Then I googled their answer and yes, this is exactly what I've been seeing. So tonight I can sleep! - Barbara


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