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Dithyrea californica

Common name: Spectacle Pod

Due to the more volatile nature of blooms in the desert, I have not spent that much attention to the flowers that can be found there in the past. In 2017, we had a “superbloom” in Anza Borrego (and the place was completely overrun with people) – in 2018, there was almost nothing because there was hardly any rain.

With the good amounts of rain we received so far, it looks like we might get another superbloom this year. We’ll have to see if everything comes together to make it happen.

But either way, there are already exciting finds waiting to be discovered and photographed everywhere in the desert right now, thanks to the storm right at the beginning of the 2018/2019 water year – it brought surprising amounts of rain to the desert, and many of the plants reacted to it, blooming a little bit outside of their usual time.

One such find was Dithyrea californica, also called Spectacle Pod. This is an annual in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), and according to The Jepson Herbarium, it normally flowers between March and May, but I found them in early January in the June Wash area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. If you happen to see them, make sure to smell it! Shuwen said it has a nutty smell that reminded her or chocolate hazelnut spread (but with a very floral note of course). :-)

My friend Hans and I were en route to hike Sandstone Canyon and Diablo Benchmark, and from the car we saw large amounts of Primroses, Desert Sunflowers and Sand Verbena lining the dirt road – too good to pass up on, so we stopped the car, got out, and slowing down a little bit, we found all kinds of beautiful desert flowers. (The Primroses were already wilting, unfortunately.)

I will share the other flowers in a future blog post – similar to the “Floral Meditations” from last year, I will collect the single photos into blog posts with galleries. The three photos of the Spectacle Pod are nice enough though to give them their own blog post as a little plant portrait:


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4 thoughts on “Dithyrea californica”

  1. Beautiful! The subtle detail and soft colors are magical. I can recognize the mustard’s cross-shaped, four-petaled flower, and the seed pods look familiar too, even though I’ve never seen this plant. It pays to get out over and over – you never know what you’re going to find. I look forward to seeing more.

    • Thank you, Lynn. Yes, it’s quite recognizable as a mustard! Spring is here in Southern California – there’s surely more to come in the next couple of weeks and months. :-)


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