Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Elegant Clarkia

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Elegant Clarkia
Scientific Name:Clarkia unguiculata
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 4 feet
Habitat:Sun or shade in grasslands, woodlands, and chaparr
Blooms:April to July

Elegant Clarkia tolerates several different growing conditions and it is not uncommon to encounter many such plants growing in a large patch along an open slope. Its colorful, spidery-looking flowers show a variety of colors, ranging from white to purple to pink to crimson. They appear in leaf axils and are fairly regularly spaced along an erect stem. Blooming occurs from April through June. The flowers have 4 pinkish-purple (or occasionally white) spade-shaped petals that radiate outwards from the flower head and are each an inch or so long, 8 stamens of which 4 are crimson-orange and 4 are cream colored, and 4 sepals. The seed pod and sepals are hairy but the rest of the plant is smooth. The ovate leaves are around 3 inches long and about an inch wide.

The species name unguiculata means "little red claw or nail " and refers to the narrowing shape of the petals where they connect to the flower head. Its genus name Clarkia is named after Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
Speckled Clarkia Clarkia cylindrica
California Fuchsia Epilobium canum
Mustard Evening Primrose Eulobus californicus
Willow Herb Clarkia Clarkia epilobioides
Beach Evening Primrose Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia

Originally featured: June 2009
Last modified: May 12 2017 23:40:58.
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves