Notes about your surroundings.


Wildflowers--The spring wildflower swings into high gear in the next couple of weeks. The following is a list of the most common flowers blooming at park sites and open fields in the county and their identifying characteristics.

* Black mustard--Named for the color of the seeds, and not the flowers, which are bright yellow. Grows to 3 to 6 feet high, with large lower leaves toward the base and smaller leaves near the flower. Found throughout the area, it blooms from March to July.

* Blue-eyed grass--A plant with deep blue flowers with yellow centers, atop branching flat stems a foot or so high. Its leaves are grasslike, hence the name. Found in grasslands and coastal sage, it blooms from March to June.


* California poppy--An herb with stems up to 2 feet high, it has four showy, satiny orange petals that fold in in the evening. Found on grassy slopes and flats below 2,000 feet from February to September.

* Common fiddleneck--A slender, bristly plant with linear leaves up to 6 inches long. Its orange-yellow flowers, found atop the long stem, are tiny and tightly coiled. It is abundant on open, grassy hillsides, and blooms from February to May.

* Indian paintbrush--Covered with soft, short hairs, its stems are purplish and woody at the base. The flowers are covered by scaled leaves with scarlet tips, giving it the appearance of a brush dipped in paint. It grows in open grassy areas and among shrubs in coastal sage and chaparral and blooms from February to May.

* Popcorn flower--Bristly, hairy small plants with small, white flowers that resemble forget-me-nots. It flowers from March to July and can be found throughout the area.

* Sea fig--The plant’s flowers are magenta and have numerous linear petals, while its leaves are thick, three-sided and do not curve or indent. It is common on dunes and bluffs along the coast, but has been planted on steep slopes farther inland in the mistaken belief it helps stop erosion. The flowers bloom from April to September.