Thanks to the contributions of two energetic people who know plants, chavezpark.org is publishing a complete botanical inventory of the park. Jutta Burger PhD is Lead Scientist for the California Invasive Plant Council, and Bob Huttar is a certified arborist and a consulting field biologist specializing in botany generally and rare plants in particular. Together they are photographing and identifying everything that grows in the park, both common and scientific names. They’ve done the scientific heavy lifting. I’m adding some background blog-talk. We’re publishing the results in a series, with a new installment every Friday.
Flora Friday had intended to take a break this week, but with the discovery of a new native she had to go public. And then there’s a dramatic photo of a known plant in a previously unphotographed condition. Read on.
Coastal Tarweed (Madia sativa)
The Coastal Tarweed (Madia sativa) is native to California and other western states. This little cluster grows on a northerly ridge among grasses in a bird-rich area near a Coyote bush. The flowers are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The leaves are a bit sticky, which is probably where the “tarweed” label came from. There doesn’t seem to be any commercial interest in these plants in their homeland but there is work in Bulgaria and Chile on growing the plant for its seed oil. A Bulgarian laboratory analyzed three varieties of the plant and found them all rich in edible oils at concentrations exceeding corn oil and approaching sunflower oil. The study concluded:
Despite some small differences in the composition of their components all accessions of Madia sativa are valuable sources of healthy glyceride oils for human consumption and can be used in Bulgarian food and cosmetic industry in the future.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5602966/
A study from Chile reports that Madia sativa has been used as a food source and medicinally by the indigenous peoples in central Chile for thousands of years; remains of the plant were found in a settlement that dated to 13,000 years before the present. Source.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Plants have their ages, just like people. When it first appeared in these pages, Silybum marianum was a youngster, all fresh green leaves and a bright magenta blossom. Here it is in its last act, releasing its seeds into the world.