Species Spotlight: The Small Yet Mighty Payson’s Jewelflower

Apr 9, 2022 | MSHCP, Species

The Payson’s jewelflower (Caulanthus simulans) is not a showy flower, unlike its attention-seeking neighbor, the Coulter’s Matilija Poppy, which was in the Species Spotlight earlier this year. However, the flower, which is part of the mustard plant family, depends on soil disturbance in order to thrive.

Named after botanist Edwin Payson, the plant is found mainly in southern California. Growing up to 40 cm in height, the species has small, white flowers that bloom in the spring and produce small fruits measuring 2-8 cm.

The species is part of Brassicaceae or mustard plant family and is typically found in Riverside County on north-facing slopes that receive less sunlight and retain moisture.

This jewelflower depends on disturbance in the soil. The plant is found in recently burned areas and scoured areas along streams. Its seeds may need heat or scouring against river sediment to weaken the seed coat to allow for germination.

As part of the MSHCP, more than 94,430 acres of land will be conserved in Aguanga, Billygoat Mountain, Lewis Valley, and the Tule Valley area in western Riverside County. The jewelflower needs large blocks of the land to allow it to expand and for pollination to occur.