Presidio of San Francisco

Plants

California Goldfields

Origin Of Genus Name: Lasthenia is Greek for a female pupil of Plato.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grassland and coastal prairie.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This annual native species of the Sunflower Family has yellow, daisy-like flowers with reddish stems and narrow leaves 2.5 inches long which are stiffly hairy at their base. Blooms March to May.

Native Californian Uses: Cahuilla used the parched seeds, grinding them into flour to make pinole, a ground meal.

 

Blue Toadflax

Origin Of Genus Name: Linaria is Latin for 'flax.'

Presidio locations: Found in coastal dune scrub.

Range in state: Northern and central coastal California and Sierra Nevada foothills.

Description: This native annual species has tiny violet-blue flowers resembling other members of the Snapdragon Family. Wispy stalks with smooth, slender leaves can be 6-24 inches in height.
Blooms March to June.

 

Greater Periwinkle

Origin Of Genus Name: Vinca is a Latin word meaning "to bind or conquer."

Presidio Locations: Found in ornamental planted and disturbed areas.

Range In State: Inner coastal California.

Description: This exotic, vining perennial is native to Europe and North Africa and has solitary, violet-blue flowers with 5 petals. Waxy leaves are oval with pointed tips and arranged in opposite pairs on arching stems that root at the tips and exude a milky latex when cut open. In moist and shady areas Greater Periwinkle creates a dense carpet that excludes virtually all other plant species. Blooms spring and early summer.


Yellow Bush Lupine

Origin Of Genus Name: Lupinus is Latin for "wolf."

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal dunes.

Range In State: Central to northern California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native of the Pea Family has smooth, green, hairy, palmate leaves (resembling the palm of your hand). The erect stems have dense, yellow flower clusters and pod like, brown-black fruit. Lupines have the ability to fix nitrogen into soil. Tree lupines are host larvae of the Tree Lupine Moth, a once federally threatened insect. Blooms May to August.

Native Californian Uses: The Pomo and the Kashaya used the root fibers to make string for deer and rabbit nets, gill nets and carrying nets.

 

Sea Thrift or Sea Pink

Armeria

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal bluffs, coastal dunes and marsh upland.

Range In State: Coastal California.

Description: This native perennial species has spherical clusters of tiny, funnel-shaped, pale pink flowers on stems 10 to 14 inches high with short, slender grass-like leaves in mounds. Blooms April to August.

 

Raven's Manzanita

Arctostaphylos hookerii ravenii

Family: Heather (Ericaceae)

Habitat: Open scrub areas on serpentine soils.

General Distribution: Historic distribution extended less than six miles from Fort Scott, in the Presidio, to Mount Davidson in San Francisco. Only one single plant existed as of 1987. That plant is located in the Presidio. Since 1987, a number of clones have been propagated from cuttings off the parent plant and have been planted at several sites around the Presidio.

Description: This low-growing evergreen shrub has reddish bark and does not have a basal burl. The leaves are round to broadly elliptic, growing from branchlets covered with fine grayish-white hairs. The small white flowers and fruit are sparse. Blooming time is from February to March.

Monitoring and Activities: The parent plant and 18 clones were monitored in 2000. The parent plant shows signs of growth and new leaf production. The most significant information concerning the manzanita this year is a life-threatening invasion of Tussock Moth larvae. The larvae have partially to fully defoliated many of the plants at one site and may be responsible for the deaths of 2 clones at that site. The parent plant and clones have also suffered significant dieback in the last two years due to a fungal pathogen that apparently had flourished following several years of above average rainfall.

 

California Phacelia

Origin Of Genus Name: Phacelia is Greek for 'cluster.'

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal bluffs.

Range In State: Northern and central coastal California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial has lavender, bell-shaped flowers in clusters that appear to be slightly coiled. Purple fiddleheads, resembling a scorpion's tail, appear as the new growth unfurls from middle to late spring, hence its also being known as California Scorpionweed. It can be low growing when it must adapt to the full force of ocean winds but can reach heights of up to 2 feet in more protected habitats. Blooms March to September.

Native Californian Uses: The Pomo used the fresh, crushed leaf juice to treat skin diseases. The Ohlone boiled roots for a tea to treat fevers and colds.

 

Foredune Plant Community

The foredune community is composed of low-growing perennial herbs and small shrubs that inhabit open dune areas adjacent to the beach. The plants are salt tolerant opportunists that pioneer harsh, low nutrient and frequently disturbed dune environments. Typically no single species dominates the cover in this community, but non-native iceplant has become a dominant species in many places and introduced grasses have taken over other areas as well. The foredune community is therefore greatly reduced from its historic distribution in California.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Baker Beach and Crissy Field immediately inland of the shoreline.

Brown Creeper

Certhia americana

Natural History: The Brown Creeper eats insects and other invertebrates by probing into bark and picking them off leaves. It often feeds by spiraling up a tree trunk. Nests are often built behind loose bark, usually in old-growth trees or snags. It is monogamous and breeds from March to mid-August.

General Distribution: In the Presidio, this bird is found in Monterey Pine, Monterey Cypress, Redwood forests, and palm trees. It breeds within the Presidio grounds.

Frequency: This species is common in the Presidio year round.

Identifying Characteristics: The Brown Creeper is a small, slim bird with a brown color and light camouflage stripes. It is distinguished by its tendency to spiral up trees.

Harvest Brodiaea

Origin Of Genus Name: Brodiaea is named after James J. Brodie, a Scottish botanist.

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal prairie and serpentine grasslands.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native perennial has mounds of grass-like leaves, 4-16 inches in height, that dry out before the flower appears. Bell shaped flowers vary in intensity of violet-pink and are attached to a single stem in groups up to ten. Blooms May to August..

Native Californian Uses: The Yurok ate the bulbs as a vegetable by baking them in sand with a fire built over them.

 

Native Plant Communities

Many environmental

factors dictate the distribution of vegetation and plant communities at the Presidio. These include temperature, exposure to sun and wind, soil type, and available moisture. Although the modern landscape is drastically altered by the introduction of non-native grasses, vines, and trees, as well as by the cutting on the few native trees once here, some remnant and restored areas still preserve native plant communities. These include vestiges of the coastal prairie, sand dune, oak woodland, riparian forest, and wetland communities that once blanketed the Presidio.

Dune Tansy

Origin Of Genus Name: Tanacetum is Latin for "immorality."

Presidio Locations: Found on active coastal dunes.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This native, perennial species has small yellow flowers forming flat-topped clusters and thick, feather-like leaves. Each leaflet has small side branches. The Dune Tansy --also known as Camphor Tansy-- is aromatic and can grow 4-16 inches high. Blooms June to August.

 

Presidio Clarkia

Origin Of Genus Name: Clarkia is named after Captain William Clark, co-leader and botanist of the Lewis and Clark party.

Presidio Locations: Found on serpentine bluffs and serpentine grasslands in open sunlit areas.

Range In State: Grows only in the Presidio and in the East Bay hills.The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Native Californian Uses: Parched, pulverized seeds of Clarkia species were known to be used for food by the Miwok.


Coastal Dune Scrub Community

The dune scrub community is found on inland dunes landward of the foredune community. It is characterized by densely-packed shrubs interspersed with scattered areas of grasses, wildflowers, and open sand. The dune scrub community is represents several stages of ecological succession that follow disturbances such as fires or dune blowouts. Dune blowouts are areas where high winds may reactivated the dunes, causing sand to blow out and uprooting vegetation in the area; new dunes may also form and cover an established dune community if the blown out sand is deposited in a localized area. Urban encroachment and the introduction of non-native plants has greatly reduced the extent of the dune scrub community in San Francisco, where it once covered 14 square miles.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Feral Dunes, Lobos Creek Valley, North Baker Beach, Crissy Field, and Presidio Hills.

Common Native Plants

Lupinus arboreus Mimulus aurantiacus Rhamnus californica Lupinus chamissonis Baccharis pilularis Eriophyllum staechadifolium Ericameria ericoides Toxicodendron diversilobum

Rare and Endangered Plants

Silene verecunda Gilia capitata ssp.chamissonis Lessingia germanorum germanorum Chorizanthe cuspidata Erysimum franciscanum

 

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

Origin Of Genus Name: Adelbert von Chamisso named this genus after his shipmate, J.F. Eschscholtz, a Russian naturalist who visited California and the Presidio in 1816.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal bluffs, dune flats, grassy hills, rocky ridges. This is the type locality for this species, which means that it was scientifically described and named based on specimens collected at the Presidio.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This annual or perennial native grows from heavy taproot and has lacy, blue-green leaves. This California State flower's shiny, golden-orange flowers are bowl shaped. Blooms February to November.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone used a decoction prepared from the flowers to rid the scalp of lice. When a child was restless or unable to sleep, one or two California Poppy flowers were placed beneath their bed to help relax them. Pomo mothers used a decoction of mashed seed pods to stop nursing.

 

Non-native Flowers

Before the Europeans arrived, wildflowers in the Presidio had grown here for tens of thousands of years.

By introducing non-native flowers and other plant species, settlers drastically altered the landscape.

While some of these new flowers ... or "outsiders" ... don't seem to threaten our native species or ecosystems, many are invasive.

Invasive means "outsiders" can spread quickly to disrupt or push-out native plant species. There are a lot of reasons: "Outsiders" aren't bothered by local diseases or local animals don't like eating the new flowers or the "outsiders" produce a lot of seeds or they have accelerated reproductive cycles.

To bring balance back into our environment, these "outsiders" have to be removed ... by hand. It's incredibly hard work and takes literally years to change the land back to its original state.

 

Beach Strawberry

Origin Of Genus Name: Fragaria is Latin for "fragrant."

Presidio Locations: Found on ocean beaches, dunes, grasslands and coastal prairie.

Description: This native perennial species of the Rose Family has 3 dark green, serrated, oval leaflets with a waxy surface that helps keep moisture inside the plants. From white flowers it produces small, scarlet berries similar in appearance to cultivated strawberries. This is the only plant that is grown in the park's native plant nurseries which is hardy enough to be transplanted directly from rooting medium into the field. Blooms April to August.

Native Californian Uses: Although not found in abundance, gathered strawberries were savored by the Pomo and eaten raw or dried.

 

Himalayan Blackberry

Origin Of Genus Name: Rubus is Latin for "bramble."

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed, moist areas.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description:

Introduced from Eurasia, this shrubby weed of the Rose Family has white-to-pinkish ½ inch flowers and sharply toothed, lobed leaves. The stout canes are heavily armed with curved thorns and form dense, impenetrable thickets up to 15 feet high. Although the berries are enjoyed by both people and wildlife, the seeds are dispersed by song birds, making complete eradication impractical. Himalayan Blackberry thickets can alter ecosystem functions by hindering reestablishment of native berry species and by shading out and killing smaller native species. It is distinguished from native blackberry species by the white undersides of the leaves, rather than green, and by the leaves clustering in fives instead of threes for the native species.

Presidio Forest

A mature forest of pine, cypress, eucalyptus and other non-native trees covers the higher areas of the Presidio. The army planted these trees from the 1880s through the 1940s in order to make the area appear larger with more relief, to limit visibility within the Presidio, and to beautify the post. Signature groves of the planted cultural forest are being maintained and replanted as the old trees die or blow over, but native plants are also being restored to outlying areas where the forest has expanded out of its original boundaries.

Bluedicks

Origin Of Genus Name: Dichelostemma is a Greek reference to appendages on the stamens, the male part of the flower. Capitatum refers to flowers forming a cap at the top of the stalk.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grassland, coastal prairie, and dune scrub.

Range In State: Throughout California

Description: This native, perennial species of the Lily Family has two or three grass-like leaves up to 16 inches long and a single flower stalk which can reach 2 feet. Often the two to fifteen tightly packed flowers that form the head are pale lavender to dark purple. Blooms March to May.

Native Californian Uses: The Miwok ate the bulbs, an important starch source, steaming them in an earth oven.

 

Franciscan Thistle

Cirsium andrewsii

Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae)

Habitat: Frequents wet or marshy ground along streams and seeps, sometimes on serpentine soils.

General Distribution: Coastal counties from Sonoma to San Mateo. In the Presidio, this species is found on the bluffs near Fort Point.

Description: This robust thistle stands up to six feet tall and the stems can reach two inches in diameter. The stems and upper surfaces of the leaves are thinly cobwebby, as are the leaf undersides. The rosy purple flower heads are also densely cobwebby. Blooming time is June to July. Superficially, this species resembles the common non-native bull thistle.

Monitoring and Activities: The population near Fort Point has been declining in recent years. However, two distinct populations have been discovered on the coastal bluffs in the past three years and are stable. Experimental seeding of other sites also is under way. 

Fumitory

Fumaria 'fumus

Origin Of Genus Name: Fumaria is from the Latin 'fumus,' meaning "smoky," from the odor of the fresh roots.

Presidio Locations: Found in dune scrub and oak woodland.

Range In State: Central and southern coastal California.

Description: This exotic annual species of the Poppy Family has climbing flower stalks with approximately 20 white or pink-flushed flowers and small leaves divided into narrow segments. Blooms April to August.


California Hedgenettle

Origin Of Genus Name: Stachys is Greek for "ear of corn."

Presidio Locations: Inspriation Point

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native annual species is not really a nettle at all, but a member of the Mint Family. Flowers are light purple to pink to white, with 5 petals in two lips arranged in whorls of flowers along top of stout stems up to 3 feet in height. Leaves are dark green, triangular, hairy and toothed and grow in pairs. Blooms March to July.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone used poultices of heated leaves for earaches and infected sores. They also used decoctions of roots used as a gargle for sore throats and internally for stomachaches.

Milkmaids

Origin Of Genus Name: Cardamine is Greek for a Cress with medicinal uses.

Presidio Locations: Damp forested areas.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native of the Mustard Family has white to light pink flowers in multiple clusters at the top of a single stem 4-15 inches in height. Leaves are oval at the base and three-part upper leaves are blade-like. Blooms February to April.

Native Californian Uses: The Yurok used Milkmaids as a season indicator, as it was among the first plants to flower in the spring.

 

San Francisco Spineflower

Origin Of Genus Name: Chorizanthe is Greek for "divided flower."

Presidio Locations: Found throughout inland sand dunes.

Range In State: San Francisco Bay area.

Description: This rare, native annual species has small, hairy, white to rose colored flowers. The stem is soft and hairy and often prostrate. San Francisco Spineflower is an early dune colonizer, dependent on having open sandy habitat for establishment. Blooms June to August.


Coastal Prairie - Serpentine Grassland Community

Coastal Prairie was historically the most common plant community in San Francisco and the Presidio. This grass and herb community is found on coastal terraces where soils are well-developed. Serpentine grasslands have a similar composition to the coastal prairie, but have the addition of the rare serpentine endemic species listed below. Today, this community on the Presidio is mainly limited to the area around Inspiration Point.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Some terrace areas at the top of the coastal bluffs and the Inspiration Point area.


 

 

Chamisso's Lupine

Origin Of Genus Name: Lupinus is Latin for "wolf". Chamissonis is named after Ludolf Adlbert von Chamisso, French-born German botanist.

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal scrub and dunes.

Range In State: California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native shrub of the Pea Family has violet to blue flowers and silvery white hairs covering their gray-green, palmate leaves having 7 to 10 leaflets. All Lupines produce seeds in pods that look like pea pods and contain alkaloids which are extremely poisonous. Blooms March to July.

Native Californian Uses: The Coast Miwok used the Chamisso's Lupine roots to make cords and ropes. The cords were then used to make beads and shells round and uniform in size: thin, flat shell disks were threaded onto the cords and rubbed against sandstone until filed to the desired shape. The Maidu leached the leaves in a running stream of water overnight to make them palatable.

 

Coast Fiddleneck

Amsinckia spectabilis

Origin Of Genus Name: Amsinckia is named after W. Amsinck, patron of Hamburg Botanic Garden.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal dunes and scrub.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: . This native annual species has yellow-orange flowers with hairy stems that mostly lie flat on the ground and curve up at the tips. The name 'Fiddleneck' refers to the plants flowering stem, which looks like the neck of a fiddle when it uncoils. Blooms April to August.

Native Californian Uses: Young leaves were rolled into balls and eaten raw by the Coast Miwok. The seeds were used to make pinole, a ground meal.

Liveforever

Dudleya farinosa

Origin Of Genus Name: Dudleya is named after W.R. Dudley, western U.S. botanist.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal cliffs, sandy bluffs and coastal dune scrub.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: . This low growing, native perennial species is densely covered with a mealy wax. It has pale, lemon-yellow flowers at the tip of a long reddish stalk. The succulent triangular leaves form a basal rosette and clasp the flower stem. Dudleya is often called "hen and chicks" because the small yellow flowers can be thought of as chicks trailing behind the mother plant. Blooms July to September.

Native Californian Uses: Leaves and flowering stems were eaten raw by the Cahuilla.

 

California Quail

Callipepla californica

Natural History: The California Quail feeds on vegetation, seeds, and fruits. It takes cover in brushy vegetation and trees. This species requires a varied habitat with water and openings. This non-migratory bird builds nests in ground depressions from April to August. Because of habitat destruction from urbanization of the San Francisco Peninsula, quail are rare in San Francisco and the Presidio is an important refuge.

General Distribution: In the Presidio, this species is mostly found in coastal scrub areas, and in forests, lawns, and areas of ornamentals. It breeds in the Presidio.

Frequency: This species is common year round.

Identifying Characteristics: This species appears much like a chicken. It is gray with a short black plume curving forward from its head.

 

Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

Natural History: The Tree Swallow feeds primarily on insects caught in flight. It takes cover in woodlands near areas of water. It nests in cavities in snags, trees, and cliffs, breeding from mid-April to mid-August.

General Distribution: In the Presidio, this bird is found in forests of eucalyptus, Monterey Pine, and Redwood. This species breeds within the Presidio.

Frequency: This species is common in the Presidio in the summer, spring, and fall; however, it is rare during the winter months.

Identifying Characteristics: This species has a steely blue or green-black upper top and white below. It can be seen gliding in circles.

Calla Lily

Origin Of Genus Name: Zantedeschia is named for F. Zantedeschi, early Italian botanist.

Presidio Locations: Found in seeps and other wetland areas.

Range In State: Throughout coastal California.

Description: This exotic perennial from South Africa has showy, white, funnel-like bracts or modified leaves surrounding a fleshy, yellow spike which is actually many tiny flowers. Large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves grow from a rhizome or underground stem capable of producing new stems up to 3 feet in height. The European name 'Calla' originates from the Greek word kallos for "beauty." Although not related to true lilies, the Calla Lily is a popular houseplant and is highly toxic to both animals and humans. Blooms April to August.


Coast Bluff Scrub Community

The coast bluff scrub community is dominated by low shrubs and prostrate herbaceous species found on steep, exposed bluffs above the bay and ocean. Vegetative cover may be dense or sparse depending on slope steepness. The bluff scrub community may grow on either sandy or serpentine soils - it mostly occupies serpentine soils at the Presidio. The species composition is very similar to and intergraddes into the coastal scrub community, but differs in containing species better adapted to the extreme wind, salt spray, and steep slopes of the bluffs.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Best developed on the coastal bluffs between the north end of Baker Beach and Fort Point. Also found on bluffs above bay near Fort Point.


 

Coast Buckwheat

Origin Of Genus Name: Eriogonum is Greek for "woolly knees."

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the Presidio, especially on coastal bluffs and dunes.

Range In State: Northern to central California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native, perennial species has white or pinkish flowers that densely cluster to form a ball shaped flower head. The paddle-shaped leaves are greenish gray above and white underneath, and have densely matted hairs underneath them. This is also a nectar source for the Green Hairstreak Butterfly and other summer butterflies. Blooms May to September.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone, Maidu and Round Valley tribes used a decoction of root, stalk and leaves for coughs. Yuki and Round Valley women made a tea to relieve gynecological problems.

 

California Buttercup

Origin Of Genus Name: Ranunculus is Latin for "little frog" from its preference for wet habitats.

Presidio Locations: Found on serpentine bluffs and grasslands in wet areas.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native, perennial species has waxy yellow flowers and leaves that are wedge shaped, toothed to deeply cut and hairy. Blooms March to August.

Native Californian Uses: The Miwok dried, stored, parched, and pulverized seeds, using them for food.

 

Wildflowers

The Presidio's wildflowers are remnants of what was once an extensive coastal ecosystem found throughout San Francisco.

For thousands of years, a wide variety of native plants were harvested for ceremony, medicine and sustenance by indigenous populations. These Native Californians were very careful in managing their plant resources.

The first European explorers were first awe-struck by the incredible beauty; then they began to write in detail about what they saw. 

Sailing along the California coastline as the setting sun reflected off shiny petals, Spanish mariners saw California poppies upon the coastal ranges, exclaiming, "This is the land of fire," and called them "copa de oro" or "cup of gold." 

Early botanists began compiling 'floras' or catalogues of the new world plants. Adelbert von Chamisso and Johann Eschscholtz arrived at the Presidio in 1816. They immediately began documenting and naming the plants right at their feet.

Although the landscape of the Presidio has been greatly altered through the centuries, many natural habitats remain relatively intact. Through the efforts of a dedicated staff and thousands of volunteers, these native plant communities are being restored and preserved, ensuring that our beautiful wildflowers and their dependent animal and insect species will continue to thrive ... especially the threatened or endangered species.

 

Wild Mustard

Origin Of Genus Name: Brassica is Latin for "cabbage."

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal prairie and dune scrub.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This exotic perennial from Europe and Asia has clusters of tiny, yellow flowers with four petals. Upright, sparingly branched stems have blade-like leaves and can reach 3 to 6 feet in height. Wild Mustard is thought to have been introduced to California by the Franciscan Padres who scattered the seeds along the Camino Real to make the road easier to find. Blooms January to May.


 

San Francisco Campion

Origin Of Genus Name: Silene is Greek for "saliva" referring to the gummy exudation on the stems.

Presidio Locations: Forms colonies on open sandy soil. Only two populations are found on the Presidio.

Range In State: California coast.

Description:This rare, native perennial species has bell-shaped flowers with ten veined, pink to rose petals, and long, tapering, hairy leaves. The San Francisco Campion is a federal candidate for being listed as an endangered species. Blooms March to June.


Bermuda Buttercup

Origin Of Genus Name: Oxalis is Greek for "sour."

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the Presidio especially in disturbed areas.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This exotic perennial species is from South Africa and has funnel-shaped, yellow flowers with 5 petals. The leaves are clover-like and have leaflets grouped in threes; each is heart-shaped and creased down the middle. The plant contains high levels of oxalic acid making it sour. Bermuda Buttercup has edible leaves, often used in salads. Blooms March to May.


Shooting Star

Origin Of Genus Name: Dodecatheon comes from the Greek word dodeka for "twelve" and theos for "gods." ." It was named by Pliny, a Roman naturalist and writer, who thought the cluster of flowers looked like an assembly of the twelve important gods of the Roman world.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal bluffs.

Description: The native perennial has nodding, bell shaped, rose-purple flowers on dark stems 3 to 12 inches in height and rosettes of broad, glossy leaves held flat to the ground. Hendersonii is named after Louis Fourniquet Henderson, early 19th century botanist. Blooms Febuary to April.

Native Californian Uses: The Yuki ate the leaves and roots after roasting them in ashes. Flowers were used by the Pomo as ornaments for dances and hung on baby baskets as a sleep aid.

 

Freshwater Seep Community

The freshwater seep: This community is composed of herbaceous plants that inhabit areas having seasonal or perennial soil saturation due to groundwater seepage. This community is dominated by rushes and sedges.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Freshwater seeps occur in areas primarily underlain by serpentinite rock and are found scattered through the coastal bluffs, bluffs above Crissy Field, near Inspiration Point, and at Presidio Hills.


 

Plants

Many environmental factors dictate the distribution of vegetation and plant communities at the Presidio. These include climatic factors, such as temperature, exposure to sun and wind, and available moisture; geologic factors, such as bedrock and and soil types. Recently, human factors, such as land disturbance and introduced plants, have altered plant distributions at the Presidio.

Local environmental influences led to a high diversity of plants at the Presidio, and many species have a very limited geographic range (endemic species). As a result, the Presidio today is home to a high density of rare and endangered species, finding refuge in this island surrounded by the City of San Francisco.

The Presidio still preserves tiny remnants of the original San Francisco landscape in its nooks and crannies, and restoration projects are re-introducing native plants to areas where they have long been eradicated. In the spring and early summer, wildflowers abound in many of the natural areas.

Yet, the modern landscape looks very different from that which the Europeans encountered on their arrival in 1776. They introduced non-native plants, grazed livestock, and cut down the few native tree species that grew here.

Fennel

Origin Of Genus Name: Foeniculum is Latin for "fennel."

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed areas.

Range In State: Throughout most of California.

Description: This exotic perennial of the Carrot Family is from southern Europe and has tiny, yellow, five-petaled flowers growing in umbrella-like clusters. Feathery, almost hairlike foliage is licorice scented and the lacy, finely dissected leaves have swollen petioles (leaf stems) that clasp the main stalk, which can reach 6 feet in height. Blooms May to September.


Sea Rocket

Cakile

Origin Of Genus Name: Cakile is the Arabic name for this plant.

Presidio Locations: Found on beach dunes.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This low lying, exotic, annual species of the Mustard Family has waxy, thick, deeply lobed leaves. The four-petaled flower ranges from white to purple. This European native forms a low mound and its shoots tolerate burial by drifting sand. Blooms April to July.

 

Yarrow

Origin Of Genus Name: Achillea is named after the Achilles of ancient Greek mythology, who was supposedly the first to discover its many virtues.

Presidio Locations: Widespread and common in sandy, serpentine and clay soil.

Range In State: Found throughout California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native, perennial species has fuzzy, fern-like leaves, arranged alternately on stems that may reach several feet in height. The inflorescence (flower head) is bell shaped with tiny, white, daisy-like flowers arranged in large clusters. Blooms from March to November.

Native Californian Uses: Dried or green mashed leaves were used by the Miwok for pain and during influenza epidemics. The Pomo and Kashaya used the mashed leaf juice as a salve on sores. The Ohlone used a tea from Yarrow for treating stomach aches, as well as washing skin sores. Heated leaves were applied to wounds to prevent swelling or were held in the mouth to alleviate toothaches.

 

Footsteps-Of-Spring

Origin Of Genus Name: Sanicula is Latin meaning "to heal."

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands and on serpentine coastal bluffs.

Range In State: Northern and central California coast.

Description: This native perennial of the Carrot Family has tiny, yellow, button-like flowers with five petals in umbrella-shaped groupings on short stems with yellow-green, spiny, maple-like leaves in flat rosettes. Blooms February to April.

California Native Uses: The tuberous roots were eaten raw by the Kashaya and the Pomo.

 

Ice Plant

Origin Of Genus Name: Carpobrotus is Greek for "edible fruit."

Presidio Locations: Found in the foredune, middle dune, and back dune communities.

Range In State: Throughout coastal California.

Description: This exotic perennial species is from coastal South Africa and has yellow, pink or white flowers. Fleshy leaves are triangular in cross sections and can have red, orange, or purple edges. Ice Plant, also known as Hottentot Fig, was originally used along highways to stabilize blowing dunes. By forming a dense, invasive, low growing mat, it prevents the natural movement of sand, which most native dune species need to survive. It also increases soil salinity therefore discouraging the growth of indigenous plants. Blooms April to October.


Seaside Daisy

Origin of Genus Name: Erigeron is Greek for "an old man in the spring," referring to its early flowering and fluffy white seed heads.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal bluffs, sand flats and rock hills.

Range In State: Northern and central California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial species of the Sunflower Family has large violet to pale lavender daisy-like flowers with yellow centers and spatula shaped leaves that clump together at the base of the plant in a rosette. Blooms April to August.

 

Coastal Live Oak Riparian Forest

Live oak riparian forest is a stream or lake associated community dominated by dense stands of coast live oak. It is found above the willow riparian zone. The understory is usually more dense than that found under oak woodland, but at the one site where this community exists in the Presidio, along Lobos Creek, the understory is degraded by a dense cover of Cape ivy.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Bordering Lobos Creek.


 

Deerweed

Lotus scoparius

Origin Of Genus Name: From the Greek "lotos," a term for clover-like plants.

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the dunes on sandy flats and brushy hills, particularly at Crissy Fiels and Lobos Creek dunes.

Range In State: California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This perennial native species of the Pea Family has small yellow flowers and is often shrubby. The stems are robust and the plant forms prostrate mats. The leaflets are well-spaced and are found in groups of three. Blooms June to August.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone used the fiberous foliage as building material for house thatching and as a decoction for coughs.

Mock Heather

Ericameria ericoides

Origin Of Genus Name: From the Greek ereika for "heath," and meris or meros for "division or part," referring to the heath-like leaves.

Presidio Locations: Found in stabilized dunes and inland sandy soils.

Range In State: Throughout coastal California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial shrub has tiny leaves that grow in a fan shape. Its cylindrical fruit is hairy with a white to tan pappus (similar to the windblown part of a dandelion.) The yellow flowers have 2-6 small petals. Mock Heather, also known as California Goldenbush, is one of the dominant plants found in the central dune scrub plant community. Blooms September to October.

Native Californian Uses: The Coast Miwok heated the leaves and used them for skin sores.

 

Ithuriel's Spear

Triteleia laxa

Origin Of Genus Name: Triteleia is Greek for "three complete" because all flower parts are in three's.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands and coastal prairie; occasionally on inland dunes.

Range In State: Central California to Cascade Range.

Description: This native, perennial species in the Lily Family has leaves 8 to 16 inches long and 2 to 8 inches wide. The blue-purple to white flowers occur in clusters at the end of a long stem. Blooms May to July.

Native Californian Uses: The bulbs were gathered with a digging stick and eaten by the Karuk, Pomo, Yuki, Wailaki, Coast Miwok, and Maidu.

 

Coast Angelica

Angelica

Origin Of Genus Name: Angelica is Latin for "angelic."

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal bluff scrub.

Range In State: Northern and Central coastal California.

Description: This native perennial of the Carrot Family has numerous tiny white flowers in clusters forming multiple 5-6" umbels on a single, coarse, stout stalk up to 3 feet in height. A distinctive "puckered pod" forms at top of the stalk before flowers. Leaves are divided 2-3 times into rounded, toothed leaflets, woolly below. Hendersonii is named for Louis Fourniquet Henderson, early 19th century botanist. Blooms June to November.

Native Californian Uses:

Heated leaves were used by the Ohlone for skin disorders. They treated headaches by inhaling the smoke from burning roots and applied burned twigs for rheumatic pains.

Narrowleaf Mule-ears

Origin Of Genus Name: Wyethia is named for Nathaniel Wyeth, an early explorer of the American West.

Presidio Locations: Found in grassland and coastal prairie.

Range In State: Northern to central California.

Description: This native perennial species of the Sunflower Family has 3 inch yellow daisy-like flowers with 1-2 foot long, smooth, tapering leaves. One of the 'compass plants', there is a belief that their erect leaves always stand with their edges pointing north and south. Blooms March to May.

Native Californian Uses: The roots of Narrowleaf Mule-ears were pounded to produce a thick lather which was rubbed on the chest as cure for various lung problems.

 

Checkerbloom

Origin Of Genus Name: Sidalcea is from two Greek names for mallow: 'Sida' and 'Alcea.'

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands, coastal prairie, and bluffs.

Range In State: Throughout California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial species can grow up to 2 ft tall, sprawling with hairy stems. The leaf shape can vary considerably on a single plant; always toothed or lobed. The flowers are pale to bright pink with lacy, white veins and 5 squared off, slightly notched petals, 1 - 2 inches across; clustered along stem. Blooms March to May.

Native Californian Uses: The Coast Miwok used the seeds for pinole, a ground meal.

 

San Francisco Owls Clover

Triphysaria

Origin Of Genus Name: Triphysaria is Greek for "3 bladders" and refers to lower lip pouches on the flower.

Presidio Locations: Found on the serpentine coastal prairie. In the Presidio, two populations are known to exist.

Range In State: Central California coast and San Francisco Bay Area.

Description: This rare and endangered, native annual species has small, tube-like, cream to white flowers with inflated lower lips with 3 prominent sacs arranged in compact, dense clusters. Leaves are deeply divided into 5 to 9 linear lobes on stems 4 to 12 inches high. Blooms April to May.

Coastal Tidytips

Origin Of Genus Name: Layia is named for botanist George Tradescent Lay, who visited California in the early 19th century.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grassland.

Range In State: Northern-central to southern California coast.

Description: This native annual of the Sunflower Family has 2-3 inch yellow, daisy-like flowers with white at the petal tips. Narrow, lobed leaves are on stems a foot or more in height. Coastal Tidytips is a food source for the threatened Bay Checkerspot Butterfly. Blooms April to May.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone ate the seeds as pinole, a ground meal.

 

San Francisco Gumplant

Grindelia hirsutula maritima

Origin Of Genus Name: Grindelia is named after D.H. Grindel, 1776-1836, Latvian botanist.

Presidio Locations: Coastal bluffs and coastal hillsides usually on serpentine soils.

Range In State: Coastal areas of central California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This rare native perennial species grows one to two feet tall with herbaceous stems originating at a woody base. The Gumplant is somewhat resinous, particularly the flower head. The fairly thick leaves have fine saw-toothed edges. The flower is daisy-like and yellow, and the buds are topped by a drop of gummy material. Blooms August to September.

Native Californian Uses: An infusion of pulverized leaves were applied to sores by the Miwok. Also used by the Pomo as a sedative, antispasmodic, expectorant, to treat poison-ivy, and as a tea substitute.


Giant Vetch

Origin Of Genus Name: Vicia is Latin for "vetch."

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed areas.

Description: This native perennial species of the Pea Family has 10 to 16 leaves consisting of 5 to 8 pairs of linear to oblong-linear leaflets, often toothed or lobed, on smooth stems with many tendrils. The numerous leaflets distinguish it from other pea-like climbers. The drooping flowers are red to lavender-purple and grow in clusters of 6 to 15. Blooms April to June.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone used a decoction of the roots as a purgative and the foliage as camouflage during deer hunting.

 

Ceanothus or Coast Blue Blossom

Origin Of Genus Name: Ceanothus is Latin for "thistle."

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal bluff scrub.

Range In State: Throughout California. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial is a widely branching shrub with round, pale green twigs and short, oval, somewhat leathery leaves. Pale blue to white flowers grow in oblong clusters 2-3 inches long. Blooms March to July.

Native Californian Uses: The Pomo used the fresh or dried flowers as a soap for washing hands, face and body; mixing the flowers with water to produce a fine lather when rubbed briskly on the skin. Flowers were also used in dance wreathes at their Strawberry Festival.

 

Pink Sand Verbena

Origin Of Genus Name: Abronia is Greek for "graceful."

Presidio Locations: Found in foredune areas along Crissy Field.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: The native annual species has fragrant rose-purple flowers with reddish stems. Leaves are fleshy and oval shaped. Pink Sand Verbena blossoms were first collected by European naturalists in 1786 in Monterey and was the first California native plant to be described scientifically. Blooms from April to August.

 

Marin Dwarf Flax

(Hesperolinon congestum)

Status:
Federal: Proposed Threatened
State: Threatened
California Native Plant Society: List 1B, R-E-D Code 3-3-3 (see below)

3. Occurrence limited to one or a few highly restricted populations or present in such small numbers that it is seldom reported.
3. Endangered throughout its range.
3. Endemic to California

Family: Flax (Linaceae)

Habitat: Serpentine bluffs and grasslands and openings in serpentine scrub. At the Presidio this species is found on the serpentine bluffs.

General Distribution: Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Fewer than 20 sites known. Only one site remains at the Presidio.

Description: This small annual species is four to eight inches tall, has a slender threadlike stem and linear leaves. The flowers are small with five rose to whitish petals and form congested, flat-topped clusters. Blooming time is from May to July.

Monitoring and Activities:

Populations of this species are declining, and the species may soon be lost from the Presidio if recent trends are not reversed.

Blue-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium bellum

Origin Of Genus Name: Sisyrinchium is the name used by Theophrastus for Iris-like plants.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native, perennial species of the Iris family has deep bluish to blue-violet flowers with yellow, or rarer white centers. What looks like six equal petals are really three sepals alternating with three petals that just happen to be alike in color and texture. The leaves are narrow and grass-like. Blooms March to July.

California Native Uses: The Coast Miwok used tea made from Blue-Eyed Grass to treat stomach-aches. The Ohlone used the tea to reduce fever.

Dune Knotweed

Origin Of Genus Name: Polygonum is Greek for "many knees."

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal dunes and dune scrub.

Range In State: Central to northern California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native, low growing shrub has white or pink flowers and branches tipped with rounded, needle-like leaves. Blooms June to August.

 

Douglas Iris

Origin Of Genus Name: Iris is the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands, serpentine chaparral, coastal prairie and the understory of cultural plantation.

Range In State: Coastal ranges north of Santa Barbara. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial species has dark lavender to deep reddish purple flowers. The flowers have three sepals, three petals and three stamens. Douglas Iris, also called lavendel, has leathery, dark green, grass-like leaves that sprout from a snake-like root called a rhizome. Blooms March to July.

California Native Uses: Douglas Iris is known to be one of the most important sources of rope and basket-making fiber in northern California for a large number of tribes. Coast Miwok have used Douglas Iris to make a tea that induces vomiting. The Pomo and the Klamath have used fibers from the edges of leaves to make a strong rope. The strands on the edges have been removed and cleaned with a sharp oblong tool made from abalone shell fastened to the thumb. This process was extremely time-consuming: a twelve foot long rope took nearly six weeks to make.

 

Coast Rock Cress

Origin Of Genus Name: Arabis is Latin for "of Arabia."

Presidio Locations: Found on rocky coastal bluffs and ridges of serpentinite.

Range In State: Central coastal California.

Description: This rare, native perennial species of the Mustard Family grows up to 12 inches in height with showy, fragrant, pink to purple four-petaled flowers with white centers. Leaves are long, with distinct individual hairs on edges; forming a rosette at the base of the stem. Blooms from February to April.


Coastal Serpentine Scrub

The coastal scrub community on the Presidio is largely a unique serpentine variant of coastal scrub that includes the vestigial remnants, such as Raven's manzanita and California lilac, of a serpentine chaparral community. This shrub-dominated community is found on gentler slopes than those containing the bluff scrub community and mostly occupies serpentine outcrops with shallow soils and of limited local extent. The community supports many rare plants, including Raven's manzanita, which may have been the historically dominant shrub in a no longer extant serpentine chaparral community.

Typical Sites at the Presidio: Less steep parts and top of the coastal bluffs north of Baker Beach and the bluffs near Fort Point and behind Crissy Field.


 

Cobweb Thistle

Origin of genus name: Cirsium is Greek for "thistle."

Presidio locations: Found in dune grassland and dune scrub.

Range in state: Throughout most of California.

Description: This native perennial species has solitary, pink-to-rose flowers on stout, leafy stems up to 2 feet in height with narrow, alternating, spiny leaves up to 12 inches long. A webbing of filmy, white threads winds below the flower heads and the underside of the leaves. Blooms March to May.

Native Californian Uses: The spring stems were skinned and eaten raw by the Tubatulabal and the Kawaiisu. A tea was made from the roots by the Ohlone and used to treat asthma.

Coast Cryptantha or Popcorn Flower

cryptos anthos

Origin Of Genus Name: From the Greek cryptos, "hidden," and anthos, "flower," and thus meaning "hidden flower," a reference to the first known species which had small inconspicuous flowers which self-fertilized without opening.

Presidio Locations: Found on coastal dunes and dune scrub.

Range In State: Coastal California.

Description: This native annual has clusters of tiny white flowers with 5 petals and bristly hairs. The blade-like leaves are on stems reaching is up to 2 feet in height. Blooms April to June.

 

Bicolor Lupine or Miniature Lupine

Origin Of Genus Name: Lupinus is Latin for "wolf."

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the sand dunes.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This annual native has tiny, deep blue flowers. The plant was once thought to deplete or "wolf" the mineral content of the soil; hence the genus name derived from the Latin lupus for "wolf." Actually the plant and all of the Lupine Family enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. It has palmate (looks like the palm of your hand) leaves which are quite hairy. Blooms March to June.

 

Coast Dandelion

(Agoseris apargioides var. apargioides)

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the Presidio inland and particularly on the coastal dunes.

Range In State: California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial species has yellow flowers resembling the non-native weed. The flower petals are considered to be individual flowers and will form individual seeds, however, the seedhead of the Coast Dandelion is a very dense sphere as opposed to the non-native's more feathery, open head. The leaves are smooth to softly hairy. It can grow to 4 to 18 inches high. Blooms May to August.

California Native Uses: Young greens were eaten in the early spring to purify the blood. Roots were used as tea for heartburn.

 

Sticky Monkey Flower

Origin Of Genus Name: Mimulus is Latin for "little mime or comic actor," for the face-like corolla.

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the dunes, coastal scrub and serpentine bluffs.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native shrub has smooth to hairy leaves that are sticky with a resin that protects against desiccation. The long stems have main leaves that have axials with clusters of smaller leaves. Its yellowish-orange flowers have petals shaped like a tube. Blooms July to September.

Native Californian Uses: The Coast Miwok placed the crushed leaves on sores and burns. The roots have been used to treat fever, dysentery, diarrhea, and to curtail hemorrhages. The Pomo have used a decoction made from Sticky Monkey Flower to treat sore, bloodshot eyes which affected many of the men and women who lived in smoky, poorly ventilated dwellings. The flowers commonly have been used to ornament Miwok wreaths and children's hair.

 

San Francisco Willow Herb

Origin Of Genus Name: Epilobium from the Greek epi "upon", lobus "a pod", ion "a violet."

Presidio Locations: Found in seeps and other wetland areas.

Range In State: Northern and central coastal California.

Description: This native perennial species grows up to 5 feet high and has deep pink flowers on a single, slender, elongated stem with willow-like leaves 4-8 inches long. Blooms July to September.

Rare and Endangered Plants

California in general, and the Bay Area in particular, are places of great biological diversity owing to the wide variety of environmental conditions found here. On the San Francisco Peninsula, conditions leading to high biological diversity and species with limited distributions (endemic species) include 1) the interaction of maritime weather and Mediterranean climate to produce localized climatic zones, 2) the development of diverse habitats and barriers to dispersal by mountains and bay, and 3) the presence of a variety of geologic and soil conditions, such as nutrient-poor sand dunes and serpentine-derived soils. This combination of conditions allowed for a flourishing adaptive radiation of many closely related species.

All this is threatened by urban sprawl and the introduction of competitive non-native species like annual grasses and eucalyptus trees. The few places where natural conditions remain are now refuges for rare species. The Presidio is probably the most important refuge in the San Francisco area because it contains many habitats and undeveloped natural areas.

Twelve plants found at the Presidio are designated as rare, threatened or endangered by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and/or the California Native Plant Society. In addition several other rare, threatened or endangered plant species have been re-introduced to the Presidio at some of our habitat restoration sites.

There is a policy that all rare plants are treated as though they have full protection of the Endangered Species Act. Because of their special status, monitoring of the Presidio's rare plants has been going on for years. The results have provide vital informational "baselines" for plants on the brink of extinction. Park stewards comb the far corners of the Presidio's remaining natural areas to census and map the plant populations every one to three years.

Rare plants in the Presidio are found in either dune or serpentine communities because invasive non-native plants are not able to dominate these nutrient-poor areas.

Plant populations can vary in size depending on the weather, plant competition and human management. Because things change slowly, the plant population trends must be monitored over several years before we know if our management practices are successful. We can report that our populations of rare dune species and perennial serpentine species have generally increased over recent years. The good news continues since the ranges for all twelve rare plants have not gotten smaller. In fact, some ranges have expanded through our work on growing the rare plants in nurseries and then slowly "outplanting" young plants.

In the dunes are three rare annual species:

SAN FRANCISCO SPINEFLOWER

DUNE GILIA

SAN FRANCISCO LESSINGIA

Two dune perennial species are considered rare:

SAN FRANCISCO WALLFLOWER

SAN FRANCISCO CAMPION

In areas with serpentine soils, there are three rare annual species:

SAN FRANCISCO OWL'S CLOVER

MARIN DWARF FLAX

PRESIDIO CLARKIA

The four rare perennial species that exist on serpentine are:

RAVEN'S MANZANITA

FRANCISCAN THISTLE

SAN FRANCISCO GUMPLANT

COAST ROCK CRESS

Sweet Pea

Origin Of Genus Name: Lathyrus is from the Greek lathyros, an old name for "pea."

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed areas.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This exotic perennial from southern Europe has distinctive flanges on the vining stems, making them appear flat and leaf-like. The paired leaves have a branched curly tendril arising from the base of each pair. The showy flowers with lobed petals are variously colored but often pink to violet. Like most members of the Pea Family, the seeds of Sweet Pea are full of nutrients, remaining viable for long periods of time. One plant can produce many hundreds of seeds during a growing season. The Sweet Pea is very tenacious and can spread for considerable distances. Blooms from April to October.


San Francisco Wallflower

Origin Of Genus Name: Erysimum is Greek for "to help."

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal dune scrub and on serpentine slopes.

Range In State: Northern California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This rare, native, perennial species of the Mustard Family has cream colored flowers with 4 petals. The linear leaves are broad with sharp, deep teeth on singular or few-branching stems that stand 2-18 inches tall. Blooms March to June.


Wild Radish

Origin Of Genus Name: Raphanus is a Greek word meaning "appearing rapidly," referring to the seed germination.

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed areas.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This exotic biennial of the Mustard Family is from southern Asia and has lavender, pink, yellow or white flowers with 4 dark-veined petals. The elliptical and deeply lobed basal leaves and alternating upper leaves have coarse hairs. Wild Radish can reach 3 feet in height and has a taproot somewhat like that of a radish with a distinctive radish odor and taste. Blooms spring and summer.


 

Hermit Thrush

Catharus guttatus

Natural History: The Hermit Thrush eats insects, spiders, earthworms, and much fruit. It nests on the ground or in shrubs. It prefers moist habitats.

General Distribution: In the Presidio, this species can be found in willow, scrub, oak, and ornamental areas.

Frequency: This species is common at the Presidio in all seasons but the summer.

Identifying Characteristics: The Hermit Thrush has a prominently speckled breast and gray-brown back. It has complete whitish eye ring and a relatively long, slender beak.

 

French Broom

Origin Of Genus Name: Genista is from the Latin words planta genista, from which English Plantagenet monarchs took their name.

Presidio Locations: Found in disturbed areas.

Range In State: Throughout coastal California.

Description: This exotic perennial shrub from the Mediterranean region has clusters of 4 to 10 yellow flowers at the end of green stems. The leaves contain 3 leaflets and the hairy seed pods resemble those of other members of the Pea Family. French Broom can reach up to 10 feet in height and is highly aggressive, having the ability to thrive in both disturbed and undisturbed areas.


Soap Plant

Chlorogalum

Presidio Locations: Found throughout the Presidio on coastal bluffs, grasslands and dunes.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This native perennial species has a highly branched cluster of white flowers that opens in the evening and closes during the day, indicating pollination by moths. The wavy edged, narrow leaves spring from a white, fleshy bulb with a brown, fibrous outer coat. Blooms June to August.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone made shampoo by mixing the pounded stems and bulbs in a little water. The juice obtained from the root was used as a purgative, drinking it freely, along with sea water. Brushes were made from the fiberous bulbs. The Pomo cooked and mashed the bulbs, making a glue for brooms and to attach feathers to arrows. They also used the green leaves pricked into the skin to form tattoo marks.

 

Seaside Paintbrush

Castilleja

Presidio Locations: Found on brushy slopes throughout the dunes and dry banks near coast.

Range In State: California coast.

Description: This native perennial species has showy, bright red to yellow flowers with spout-like "petals" which are really modified leaves enclosing the tubular flowers. This bristly and sticky plant is a green-root parasite (grows into the roots of its host to steal water and nutrients) and is often found growing with Coyote Bush, Sagewort and Mock Heather. Blooms March to July.

California Native Uses: The Miwok stored dried seeds for use in winter. Indian Paintbrush has been used by the Maidu for food, as a diuretic and to cure bronchial problems. Tubatulabal boiled the entire plant and has applied it daily as a wash to treat rashes caused by poision oak. Kawaiisu used Indian Paintbrush to treat skin problems.

Seep Monkey Flower

Origin Of Genus Name: Mimulus is Latin for "little mime or comic actor," for the face-like corolla.

Presidio Locations: Found in freshwater seeps and other wetlands.

Range In State: Throughout California.

Description: This native, perennial shrub has smooth to hairy leaves on long stems with clusters of smaller leaves that are sticky with a resin that protects against desiccation. The yellowish-orange, tubular flowers have red dots that differentiate it from Sticky Monkey Flower. The name 'Seep' -- a wetland that forms in areas where groundwater discharges to the land surface-- comes from the flower being found in the understory of riparian plant communities, where soil is often moist. Blooms March to October.

Native Californian Uses: Miwok boiled the leaves for food and used a decoction for treating skin sores. The Kawaiisu used a decoction of the stems and leaves as a steambath for chest and back soreness.

 

Coastal Onion

Origin Of Genus Name: Allium is Latin for "garlic."

Presidio Locations: Serpentine bluffs and serpentine grasslands.

Range In State: Northern California to Northern central coast.

Description: This native perennial species has long cylindrical leaves and re-sprouts from an underground bulb each year. Deep red-purple flowers are clustered in groups of 5-30. Blooms April to June.

Native Californian Uses: The greens and bulbs were eaten raw or cooked by the Pomo and the Kashaya.

 

Beach Evening Primrose

Origin Of Genus Name: Camissonia is named after L. Adelbert von Chamisso, French born German botanist.

Presidio Locations: Found on sandy slopes, flats, and coastal dunes.

Range In State: Southern California coast.

Description: This low growing, perennial is a non-local subspecies was brought here from southern California in the early years of habitat restoration and is now considered an invasive weed in the Presidio, displacing the native subspecies. Beach Evening Primrose can flower during any part of the year and has short-lived, small, bright yellow 4-petaled flowers. The stem has gray oval leaves and a large root system (the roots can grow as big as a fence post.)

 

Yellow Sand Verbena

Origin Of Genus Name: Abronia is Greek for "graceful."

Presidio Locations: Found in coastal foredunes.

Range In State: California coast. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native, perennial forms a dense prostrate mat on open sand dunes. It has long fleshy leaves and deep roots. The Russian naturalist Ivan Eschscholtz described and named this species from a specimen he collected in 1824 while visiting the Presidio. Blooms June to September.

Native Californian Uses: The Ohlone made a tea used for typhoid fever. The Diengueno used Sand Verbena to make a diuretic.

San Francisco Lessingia

Lessingia germanorum

Origin Of Genus Name: Named after C.F. Lessing, German specialist in Asteraceae plant family.

Presidio Locations: Found only in inland dune areas on the Presidio with only five small populations known at this time.

Range In State: San Francisco Bay Area. The only population known of outside the Presidio is located in Daly City. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This rare and endangered, native annual has small, grayish, hairy leaves. The stem is reddish brown and branched. The flowers have funnel-shaped to tubular petals that are deep lemon yellow with a reddish brown band. Each plant can have from one to eighty flowers. Blooms August to October.