Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page
Plant of the Month - Fiesta Flower
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|Common Name(s):||Fiesta Flower|
|Scientific Name:||Pholistoma auritum|
|Size:||up to 3 feet|
|Habitat:||shady areas, common throughout most plant communities|
|Blooms:||March to May|
|Fire Response:||Seeds Only|
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
Originally featured: May 2011
Last modified: May 12 2017 16:40:59.
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
Botanical Terms for Leaves