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Eriastrum densifolium ssp. austromontanum

Common name: Southern Mountain Eriastrum

I don’t know how many times I’ve driven up Palomar Mountain’s East Grade Road (after I visited “my tree“). It was never in June I guess, because I never noticed the Eriastrum flowers there before. They grow on the banks of the road in the dirt and gravel. Sometimes this is just too easy.

On that particular morning I had met Peter in Santa Ysabel and we drove up to Palomar Mountain State Park for a nice “Shinrin-yoku” hike, repeating the loop that I had done with Shuwen a couple of days earlier (where she spotted the beautiful Summer Coralroot down by Duane Pond).

This time I actually wanted to make more inclusive forest and tree photos. I did not expect to see such marvelous blue again until next spring, when Ceanothus tomentosus would be in bloom again – but here they were: patches of low-growing blue flowers, like delicate pincushions, hints of violet in them, and in the “cool blue” shade of a June morning too.

When an opportunity like this presents itself at the side of the road, how could anyone resist? :-)

What’s hard though is to identify the flowers correctly. In the first version of this post I was way, way off and thought it was Bluehead Gilia – but my Twitter & Flickr friend Lara Hartley pointed out that it is more likely to be an Eriastrum. And then the problem was: which one?! After a lot of looking and comparing and judging from the photos on CalFlora, I’m tempted to say it’s most likely Eriastrum densifolium ssp. austromontanum, aka Perennial vool star or Southern Mountain Eriastrum.

Why? It’s been observed most often there, and I think it’s simply more likely that something growing along the side of the road is common and thus, more often observed. :-) But I didn’t expect this to be difficult when I made the few photos that I have here – which translates to: I didn’t make photos of the leaves, and I for sure didn’t measure the size of the plants and their inflorescences… :-P

Thankfully, the flowers don’t care whether they’re identified correctly – they’re beautiful no matter what. :-) Here are the photos:

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8 thoughts on “Eriastrum densifolium ssp. austromontanum”

  1. Wonderful photos Alex.

    A suggestion regarding the layout of your posts if I may ?

    I think that the text would be easier to read if the column wasn’t so wide, I’m struggling a bit when I read.

    Just a thought, maybe it’s just me.

    • Thanks for the feedback Anders. I know it’s a bit wide (I guess I’m just used to it by now;-) but I’m thinking about switching the theme and then maybe go with a sidebar again.

  2. I love the different shades of blue, and the soft light is perfect. What a gift, stumbling on them when on the way elsewhere. Love it when that happens. Beautiful images, Alex!


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