Species Spotlight: Rain and Sunshine for the Beautiful Hulsea
Have you seen all the gorgeous plants around Western Riverside County? This month’s Species Spotlight features a flower so beautiful that it is part of its name. We’re talking about the beautiful hulsea (Hulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha) that generally blooms from May through October. This sunflower has been spotted in San Jacinto, Palomar, and the Santa Rosa Mountains.
The species sprouts on rocky or gravelly soils and is categorized as a fire-follower. Fire-follower plant species tend to sprout well after fire has cleared the chaparral and will emerge in areas that have been scorched by fire or contain openings that provide high levels of sunlight.
The beautiful hulsea boasts a composite flower structure, featuring both disc and ray flowers. Located at the center of the flower head, the disc flowers contain both male and female reproductive organs. The ray flowers adorn the outer edges of the flower head and resemble petals found on other flowers. These ray flowers are pistillate, which means only the female reproductive organs are present with no functional stamens and are typically 8 to 12 millimeters in length.
This rare plant is threatened by development within the foothill range, but thanks to the MSHCP, 106,440 acres of suitable habitat are identified to be protected in western Riverside County.