Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Yellow Throated Phacelia

Sticky Phacelia

Yellow Throated Phacelia

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Yellow Throated Phacelia
Scientific Name:Phacelia brachyloba
Family:Boraginaceae (Borage)
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 2 feet
Habitat:coastal sage scrub and chaparral
Blooms:March to June
Fire Response:Germinate from Seed

Yellow-throated Phacelia - Phacelia brachyloba is a charming annual herb that appears in our mountains during the spring after a fire. Less than 2 feet in height but adorned with white flowers having bright yellow throats. Emerging from the ash covered ground, its bright green foliage signals the Phoenix-like recovery that our chaparral is noted for. This native fire-follower grows below 7,500 feet in open, sandy, generally disturbed areas in coastal sage scrub and chaparral throughout the coastal ranges from Monterey County to Baja California.

Stems and Leaves: The stems look thick and fleshy, and they branch only near the tops, where the flowers appear. The distinctly lobed, alternate leaves are generally 1 to 3 inches long and elliptic to oblanceolate in shape. As is common with many plants, the upper leaves are fewer and smaller.

A common trait among phacelias is that the flowers are in a coiled cluster at the tip of the stem. The flowers open a few at a time, from the bottom up, as the coil unwinds. This way, the open flowers are always at the top, where they are most visible to pollinating insects. There are 5 spoon-shaped, green sepals. The corolla is bell-shaped and about 3/8 inch long, with a yellow center and 5 white to pale pink, spreading lobes. The 5 stamens and single split pistil are yellow and match the throat. The flowers appear in May and June and by August the plant has completed its life cycle.

Fire Response: Yellow-throated Phacelia is a strict fire-follower. You can find it in abundance in the first year after a fire. You will not see it again in that area until the next fire. The seeds require the chemicals in charred wood to prepare them for germination as soon as the rain comes.

Meaning of the Name: Phacelia is from the Greek phakelos, “bunched”, in reference to the bunched flowers of some species; brachyloba is from the Greek brachy, “short”, and loba, “lobes”, a description of the leaves

Yellow Throated Phacelia - Originally featured: October
Last modified: April 04 2023 17:26:18.
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves