"RARE FLOWER FOUND IN BALLONA WETLANDS" - L.A. Times
MARCH 2010
Photographs by Michael Charters




The Los Angeles Times on March 19 reported the surprising find of "thousands" of Orcutt's yellow pincushions along a marshy area near Ballona Creek in Marina del Rey, a species wrote the paper "said to be close to extinction." The Jepson website records that its range and habitat is coastal dunes and bluffs to 100 m from the South Coast to NW Baja, but a personal communication from Robert van de Hoek, Conservation Biologist and Co-Director of the Ballona Institute, stated that there are only three known extant populations in the world. So it seems not to be an exaggeration to say that these populations are small and in distinct jeopardy. Since I had never encountered it before, I was eager to see what was different about it. According to the key in the Jepson Manual, its strongly fleshy, 2-pinnately lobed basal leaves set it apart from vars. glabriuscula and megacephala, its thinly cobwebby stems distinguish it from var. lanosa, and its pappus scales in 1 series separates it from var. heterocarpha. The Times says that it was "discovered and scientifically described by British naturalist David Douglas in 1831 somewhere between San Francisco and Santa Barbara," and its name was then published by Harvey Monroe Hall in a 1907 University of California publication in honor of Charles Russell Orcutt (1864-1929) of San Diego. The shrub in the foreground of the above picture is of course Encelia californica and the yellow plant along the banks beyond is Oxalis pes-caprae.


 
 
Orcutt's yellow pincushion ^
Chaenactis glabriuscula var. orcuttiana
Asteraceae
 
 
   



 
Orcutt's yellow pincushion ^
Chaenactis glabriuscula var. orcuttiana
Asteraceae