Caulanthus heterophyllus

Common name: Slender Pod Jewelflower, San Diego Wild Cabbage, San Diego Jewelflower

Even after more than eight years in Southern California, I find flowers and plants on local trails that I have not seen before, and Caulanthus heterophyllus (commonly known as Slender Pod Jewelflower, San Diego Wild Cabbage, San Diego Jewelflower) is one of them. I may not have paid close attention to all of the plants before 2015, when I took the Chaparral Naturalist Class with the California Chaparral Institute, but we’ve had a “good” winter since then (in the 2016/2017 water year) and I didn’t see this flower anywhere – and this year, they seem to be everywhere!

When I first spotted them at a nearby trail by Lake Hodges I immediately saw the resemblance to the Desert Candle (Caulanthus inflatus) that I had seen at Carrizo Plain in 2017, so I was quite confident that it was a native plant – and thanks to CalFlora’s “What Grows Here” feature, I was able to easily identify it from prior observations in our area.

Here are a few portraits of this beautiful, delicate and elegant flower. The second photo below is focus stacked from 6 individual images, to have adequate sharpness on each individual flower (thankfully, it was not windy that morning!) – you can see how they individual flowers are indeed like jewels on a necklace. The others are all single exposures. I like selective focus and limited depth of field. ;-)

On small-screen devices like phones or tablets, you can just scroll down. On larger screens, you may also click on any image to open it in the slideshow gallery view. For the best effect, I suggest switching your browser to fullscreen mode then. This is usually done by pressing the F11 key (and again, or ESC, to switch back).

It’s really curious just how much of a difference not just the amount, but also the timing of the rain seems to make. For example, despite the extremely dry winter of 2017/2018, Wishbone Bush (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia) seemed to just thrive, everywhere. This year, its bloom appears to be quite moderate in comparison. With the ample rain of 2018/2019, we’re seeing an explosion of all kinds of flowers instead of course – I’m not complaining! :-)


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7 thoughts on “Caulanthus heterophyllus”

  1. Wow, these are like a sonnet to the Jewelflower! I like selective focus and shallow depth of field too, but you take it to such an amazing level. It didn’t hurt that the green background complements the blossom color beautifully. I enjoy seeing the pods, too. I like the slight curve in the stem in the first and last photos. Beautiful!!

    Reply
  2. Great selection, Alex. I love the focus stacked image, how we can see it all in focus but still have a great out of focus background. And like you, I enjoy shallow depth of field, so I’m drawn to the last image where we can see the beautiful patterns of color in the open flower, and then everything slowly fades into a pleasant blur.

    I’m curious, given how long, narrow and small these plants appear, do you often run into issues with wind? I try to pick calm mornings, but I find even when it seems calm there’s still enough breeze to move these sorts of plants, and it turns into that patient waiting game, watching as the plant moves and waiting for that brief moment when it settles between breezes. There was a time that would have annoyed me, but now I tend to enjoy it, it’s almost meditative, watching and waiting as the plant sways in the almost non-existent breeze. Sometimes I forget to push the shutter button I’m so focused on the movements of the plant. :-)

    Reply
    • I know exactly what you mean – wind is an almost constant companion here too. With the flowers, a calm morning doesn’t work for all of them – some need a bit of sun to fully open, and by then the breeze kicks up. When it’s sunny I’ve begun using a diffuser for more even an pleasant light on the flowers, and it may help a bit with the wind too.

      Thanks for stopping by Todd!

      Reply

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