Native to a variety of habitats in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Baja California, this herbaceous annual is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes sunflower, yarrow, and lettuce. It grows 2-16″ tall, depending primarily on rainfall, and has a slender reddish stem and oblanceolate to linear, hairy leaves that are 3/8 to 2 3/4″ long, and fleshy if the plants are growing in a coastal environment. In spring, yellow flowerheads appear that are attractive to butterflies, bees and other pollinators. The flowerheads are the size of a penny to the size of a quarter and consist of a bell-shaped involucre and 6-13 yellow ray florets surrounding a center of yellow to orange disc flowers. The phyllaries of the involucre, as well as the stems and leaves are sparsely covered with white hairs.  The plants reseed themselves and create a striking display in the meadows and other open areas of their range. The genus name,  Lasthenia, honors Lasthenia of Mantinea, a Greek philosopher believed to be one of Plato’s female students. The specific epithet,  californica,  refers to the state where the plant is most widely found. Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons

Type: Herbaceous annual

Bloom: Bright yellow flower heads in spring

Size: 2-16″ H x 6″ W

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Clay to loam to sand, dry, well-drained

Hardiness: NA

Care: Low maintenance; irrigate no more than 2x/month

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed

Companion Plants: Mountain phlox (Linanthus grandiflorus), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) , blue gilia (Gilia capitata)

Outstanding Selections: None

Photo Credit: Acmonbluey Wikimedia Commons

By Karen