Clarkia biloba, common name Biloba Clarkia. Really? Couldn’t it be Elegant Clarkia or Showy Clarkia? I speculate that there is no lasting decorative common name because this rare flower doesn’t even bloom every year. Botti’s “An Illustrated Flora of Yosemite National Park” states that, “Flowering occurs only rarely, such as after the very wet winter of 1983.” After reading that Clarkia biloba is only known in Yosemite between Mather and Hetch Hetchy along the road and at the reservoir, and only after wet years, I was out of the cabin and on the hunt. Anyone reading this who has spent this last winter and spring in the Yosemite region knows that this has been one of the wettest years on record, well, since the 1980’s. Sure enough the roadside is littered this season with these spectacular Evening Primrose.
I first learned about Clarkia biloba when I thought I might try to finally figure out how to distinguish all Clarkias from other Onagraceae, the Evening Primrose family. Notice the heart shape of the petal. Biloba means two lobed referring to this shape. Clarkia refers to the infamous Clark as in the Lewis and Clark expedition. Noticing details, like the shape of the leaf, you too can begin to distinguish the Clarkia’s, like the Clarkia dudleyana, one of many commonly called Farewell to Spring.
I am going to stick with calling them glorious!
Sometimes looking for flowers can lead to other discoveries.
Farewell to Spring Photo Credit: http://www.yosemitehikes.com