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Popcorn Flower Cluster

Popcorn Flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus)

A.K.A.  Rusty Popcorn Flower

Family:   Borage (Boraginaceae)

Habitat:  Open areas and grasslands below 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). When it's in season, you can see lots of it along Highways 41 and 140 before you reach the park.

Flowering Season:   March - May

Size:  The flowers are tiny, usually ten millimeters or less in diameter, on slim stalks typically around a foot tall. Though small, popcorn flower is one of the most widespread foothill flowers, capable of transforming springtime landscapes. If you're driving up to Yosemite and you see vast sheets of white flowers whizzing past, you're probably looking at popcorn flower.

Lifespan:  Annual

Origins:  Native to California (see distribution maps for California and U.S./Canada)

Plagiobothrys nothofulvus etymology:  Plagiobothrys is a handful, and rather than try to explain it, I'm just going to quote directly from the Jepson Manual, the ultimate authority for people who speak botany: Greek: sideways pit, from position of nutlet attachment scar. Thanks, Jepson! Nothofulvus is a mashup of the Latin terms nothus, meaning bastard or phoney, and fulvus, meaning tawny. The coinage means "almost tawny"[1] and appears to refer to the plant's fruit.

This Photo:  Between Oakhurst and Ahwahnee, early April; elevation 2,300 feet (700 meters)

Many wildflower books omit the space and refer to this plant as "popcornflower". Theydothistomakeiteasiertoread.

Other Resources:   CalFlora  ·  CalPhotos  ·  USDA