Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Fiesta Flower

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Fiesta Flower
Scientific Name:Pholistoma auritum
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 3 feet
Habitat:shady areas, common throughout most plant communities
Blooms:March to May

Fiesta flower is an annual herb with succulent foliage and pretty lavendar flowers. Its common name stems from a characteristic of the plant's branches: covered with backward-pointing bristles, they act like velcro, sticking to most any fabric. In the time of Spanish ranchos, Señoritas would adorn their party dresses with sprigs of the flowers (fiesta means party in Spanish).

The purple flowers are about an inch in diameter, with 5 petals and 5 sepals. They bloom from March to May. Leaves are hairy, cleft and lance-ovate, resembling dandelions or arugula. The foliage has a fresh green color and the plant has a tangled or straggly appearance overall.

The genus name Pholistoma means "scaly-mouthed" and is given because of scales in the flowers' throats. The species name auritum means "eared" and describes how the base of each leaf clasps the stems. Like other members in the Waterleaf family, these plants are common after fire.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
Large-Flowered Phacelia Phacelia grandiflora
Eucrypta Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia
Yerba Santa Eriodichtyon crassifolium
Parry’s Phacelia Phacelia parryi
Prickly Popcorn Flower Cryptantha muricata
Common Fiddleneck Amsinckia intermedia
Fern-Leaf Phacelia Phacelia distans
Whispering Bells Emmenanthe penduliflora
Wild Heliotrope Heliotropium curassavicum

Originally featured: May 2011
Last modified: May 12 2017 23:40:59.
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