By Cheryl Lisin
The spring wildflowers are spectacular on the coastal bluffs, and Abalone Point in Shelter Cove is a great place to experience the show.w Plants growing on this windswept, salty marine terrace tend to be low to the ground and tough.
Footsteps of spring (Sanicula arctopoides) is the lowest, barely rising above the level of the soil. Its leaves are chartreuse green and its flowers yellow, making bright spots among the grasses growing here. Its flowers are in umbels, about _ inch across. Umbels are umbrella shaped flower clusters typical of the carrot family, to which footsteps of spring belongs.
Seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus) is a perennial growing 2 to 12 inches tall and forming a low growing mat. In May, pale purple daisies with yellow centers put on a pretty show, which can last through the summer. This is a good garden plant and is sometimes available at nurseries. Coastal goldfields (Lasthenia minor) is another daisy growing at Abalone Point. Right now it is carpeting the rocky ground with its golden flowers.
Sea pink, or thrift (Armeria maritima) has pink flower clusters, looking like 1 - 2 inch pink balls on 15-inch stalks which wave in the winds. There are masses of them at Abalone point. They start to bloom in May and sometimes last well into summer. This is also a good garden plant commonly available at nurseries.
Our own coastal variety of the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica var. maritima) can be differentiated from the inland variety by its smaller flowers, which often have yellow centers. Along the coastal bluffs, the foliage becomes thick with retained water, making the plant look like a succulent.
Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) is not a grass at all, but a member of the iris family. It has slender, grassy leaves and dark blue-purple flowers with yellow centers.
California buttercup and annual lupine round out the show of native wildflowers. Buttercups send up their yellow flowers on slender stalks in early spring and annual lupines sport their blue and white flowers, which grow in spikes up to a foot tall, in May and early June.
Abalone Point is part of the King Range National Conservation Area where coastal bluffs, forests, streams and rugged mountains jutting from the sea have retained much of their wild nature. The specialness of this place was recognized by congress, and in 1970 the King Range National Conservation Area the first in our country’s system of National Conservation Lands was created. Comprising 27 million acres nationally, the system of National Conservation Lands includes national monuments, conservation areas, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and scenic and historic trails, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. With its beautiful tapestry of wildflowers, Abalone Point is a treasure in our own back yard.
The spring wildflowers are spectacular on the coastal bluffs, and Abalone Point in Shelter Cove is a great place to experience the show. Plants growing on this windswept, salty marine terrace tend to be low to the ground and tough.
This article is part of a series about natural life on the Lost Coast, sponsored by the Lost Coast Interpretive Association, which may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.