Cuyamaca Lake Downingia

The 2017 superbloom is on! It’s bringing out flowers that I have never seen before – here’s one that I was especially happy to find, Downingia concolor var. brevior, the Cuyamaca Lake Downingia, a rare variety of the Maroonspot Calicoflower (Downingia concolor) that only grows in San Diego County in the area of Cuyamaca Lake.

But I admit, it was an accidental find. Shuwen, Tracy and I were doing a loop from I-8 to Julian via Sunrise Highway, with a short hike to Laguna Meadows in between, to see if the rains in early May would have brought some additional wildflowers to the meadows. Near Cuyamaca Lake I saw a nice and dense patch of light purple/blue tiny flowers in a natural gully – and slammed on the brakes! What’s that?!

I had heard of a bloom of Downingia bella in vernal pool areas in Riverside County, but was surprised to see it here. And while I now learned that Downingia is actually quite common at these elevations, in this particular location, it’s the Downingia concolor var. brevior variety – a plant that grows only in California, only in San Diego County, and only in the Cuyamaca Lake area. Wow. Oh and, in case you wonder how tiny – the flowers are probably 1/4″ (~8-10 mm) in diameter.

An here it was at the side of the road, easily accessible, and I could get really close to some of them without having to walk over the precious little plants – how awesome! I hope my photos transport a little bit of the excitement over to you. :-)

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