|Layia platyglossa: photo by Cliff Hutson|
Tidy Tips, Layia platyglossa, is an annual wildflower in the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family. It is native to California, but also found in Utah, and Arizona. Occurring in many different habitats, it is not uncommon to our Coast Ranges, Central Valley, Channel Islands, and southern coastal plain where it is a member of spring wildflower displays in meadows and grasslands in low elevation, dry environments . It is notably seen in Southern California on sandy flats along the coast.. Apparently tidy tips once covered vast expanses of the San Fernando Valley, but have been succeed by houses and malls.
Tidy tips blooms in Spring, typically flowering March to June. I think the common name suits it. Typical of the sunflower family, what appears to be a single flower is actually a cluster of small flowers. There are “ray flowers” that look like yellow petals, each with a with neatly painted tip of white, which seems to have been trimmed with pinking shears. These flowers are complemented by numerous yellow “disk flowers” in the center of the floral head. Tufted, dandelion-seed-like fruits succeed flowering. The seeds of this plant are a favorite of birds. The leaves are are narrow, somewhat rough-hairy with lower ones being lobed, while the upper ones are entire.
Layia is named for George Tradescant Lay (1799-1845), botanist on the HMS Blossom which visited California in 1827, while in search of the Northwest Passage. Lay also botanized in Hawaii and Alaska, in addition to California. The genus name "platyglossa" comes from the Greek meaning "broad-tongued," referring to the ray flowers.
“Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn.” - Paul Klee