Common name: Sacramento Beardstyle
Scientific name: Pogogyne zizyphoroides
Family: Lamiaceae (mint)
Habitat: vernal pools, wet grassland
Size: plant 1 to 4 inches tall, flower 4 to 8 mm long and 2 to 3 mm across
Fun facts: Crush a leaf to make a minty smell on your hands.
Description: Member of the mint family. The stems are square and reddish. The leaves have lots of stiff hairs sticking out from the edges. The very tiny, tubular (shaped like a tube) red-purple to violet-colored flowers are tucked away within the leaves.
The flowers of Sacramento Beardstyle are much smaller than the similar Douglas’s Beardstyle (Pogogyne douglasii). They also lack the distinct splotch of dark pink on the pale lower lip.
Life cycle: Sacramento Beardstyle is an annual plant. It germinates in the vernal pool bottoms just after the water has dried up. Compared with other vernal pool plants, it grows rather slowly, but even tiny plants can be distinguished by their minty smell. It blooms from May to June, generally after the grasslands are brown.
Ecology: This is the most common Beardstyle on Mather Field. It occurs in most, if not all, of the vernal pools.
Investigate: Tiny flowers can actually be very intricate and beautiful under magnification. Use a hand lens to peek into these secretive flowers and to view the hairy leaves. Can you figure out who pollinates these tiny pink flowers?