Mystery Seedlings Quiz!

Oh the rain is marvelous! And it brings on the growing season in California with a bang! Look - already some chaparral current is budding out! In our county, Santa Cruz - I simply refuse to believe in winter at all.

And, of course -- so many seedlings! They are popping up all over our property - some good - some bad (a lot bad, actually!) - and some -- we'll wait and see what they grow into.

So I thought it would be fun to do a little holiday season quiz to see if you can recognize the plant from its seedling - a good skill to develop in a garden to be sure.

If I had time I'd put photos of the adult plants below too - that would be swell. Oh well, hope the quiz is worth the price of admission anyway!

I'll number the photos and then below, number the answers accordingly. Here we go! ...

1. (OK not tiny seedlings but - these grow so fast you don't hardly see them as seedlings!)












And now for the some answers!

1. Very Very Baddie! Bermuda buttercup, aka sour grass, Oxalis pes-caprae. Possibly the worst of the villains! If you don't know its delightful and horridly omnipresent yellow flower and pretty clover-like leaves, you are lucky. I'm pulling but haven't been able to catch up with it - yet - or ever will probably! BTW the cluster shown in picture 1 is probably growing from a gopher cache of the bulbs and bulblets. Gophers are known to spread Oxalis.

2. I don't know what this will be - do you?

3. I don't know this one either! Any ideas?

4. Baddie! Non-native bedstraw, Galium sp. This one is a petite sort. I'm aware of a few types of bedstraw - but not which of them, if any, are native. There are humongous quantities of several Galium seedlings because last year I dithered before deciding they were all non-native and weedy besides.

5. Goodie! Purple bush lupine, Lupinus arboreus. Love that these are reseeding in the garden! I have about 20 seedlings in the greenhouse too, and need to get them out and about to create more clusters or reseeding lupines! If you scroll down on this 2012 post, you'll see a nice one growing in this very same spot.

6. Baddie! Non-native geranium sp. possibly Geranium molle, dove's foot geranium. I have a lot of different geraniums and I'm just realizing -- as I look over the Calflora page of geraniums in Santa Cruz County -- that I really should try and learn to ID e.g. the native Geranium carolinianum, which looks familiar to me - but is similar to another baddie. 11 non-natives and 2 natives. Sigh!

7. Goodie! Woodland madia - Anisocarpus madioides. - a little bushy madia I really like. I hope to get patches of it going here and there. Its current patch is a little inconveniently in between other things, close to the cottage.

8. Goodie! Ruby chalice clarkia, Clarkia rubicunda. Spreading this lovely here there and everywhere. I'm so curious to see if the streaking of the petals will show up this year - especially curious about the ones that are growing around the property for the first time. I suspect a virus (like the one that causes streaky tulip petals) - but am not sure. And I don't know if the virus is in the seeds or where it is, if it is a virus at all. I think of these seed leaves as little guitars in shape.

9. Baddie! Non-native bedstraw, Galium aparine. The biggest and weediest of the annual bedstraws. See 4.

10. BADDIE! Non-native grasses - will I stay ahead of the seed heads this year? Inquiring gardeners want to know! I'm happy to say that in areas where I've started actively gardening and weeding, the non-native grasses were not much of a problem last year. I'm hopeful that the seeds don't live long in the soil. But maybe it was the strange weather. We'll see. It doesn't do to be too optimistic - the disappointment can be quite intense!

11. Goodie! Miner's lettuce, Claytonia parviflora. Some say to call it Indian Lettuce because it was used by native people - others say the use of indian in plant names is subtly racist, and I feel that way too - so I'll stick with miner's lettuce. After all, it's the white man who came up with pretty much all the common names we use for native Californian plants -- so it seems appropriate to stick with the miners of the  California gold rush. Caveat: while it is a goodie - miner's lettuce can behave in a weedy way - taking over flower beds and then wilting into a soggy mess when it's done. So I don't feel bad about taking this plant out where it doesn't fit the bill.

12. Baddie! Hedge mustard, Sisymbrium officinale, I'm pretty sure. Based on the Calflora page of mustards - eight non-natives to choose from and one native!

13. Baddie! Pop weed, aka bitter cress Cardamine oligosperma. Native to California, America, and beyond, it grows in disturbed places. It gets everywhere and I'm not sure how hard it would be to get rid of it, or if over time, the ground becoming less disturbed as a garden matures, it fades out. I'm not sure I want to take that risk -- though there is such a lot of it, I'm also not sure I have a choice!

Well, how did you do? Should I give you another quiz anon? I'm sure I can come up with thirteen more seedlings of different sorts to try and ID!

Oh and here to close -- A phenomenal display of brown fungus has popped up all along the slope below our house on the north side. Unfortunately the fungus ID book that also pops up, unpredictably, on my book shelves is currently hiding, so I can't pursue an ID on these cute fellows. They are very common - perhaps you know?


Saurs said…
#2 looks very much like Euphorbia maculata, but it's not really the season for it. #3 could well be anything; apart from the time of year, the key to readily identifying any IPM baddie is knowing something about the soil and exposure. As for the fungus, everything looks like a Galerina to me these days.