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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ithuriel's Spear

It's the time of year to look for Ithuriel's Spear (Triteleia laxa), a native perennial and California endemic.  On Bodega Head, watch for these clusters of purple flowers emerging from grassy areas near rock outcrops.

By the time the flowers are visible, the leaves are often withered.  This isn't a great photo, but it's the only one I seem to have of the long, keeled leaves.  (The image below was taken on 1 June 2010.)

2010 happened to be a great year for this species on Bodega Head (see below). This year there aren't as many, but it's still possible to find a few here and there.

You may be wondering, as am I, about the dramatic common name, Ithuriel's Spear.  Some of you might recall that Ithuriel is a character in Milton's Paradise Lost who uses his spear to force Satan out of disguise. However, after a little searching, I haven't been able to find an explanation of why this name was given to this wildflower.  If you know, please share the story!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it is called that because the bulb looks like a spear before the flower blooms