Vernal Pool Goldfields
Common name: Vernal Pool Goldfields
Scientific name: Lasthenia fremontii
Family: Asteraceae (sunflower)
Habitat: vernal pools
Size: plant 3 to 6 inches tall, flower up to 1.5 cm across
Fun facts: Goldfields are pollinated by solitary bees. The bees collect pollen to feed their offspring.
Description: Member of the sunflower family. Each flowerhead is actually made up of 20-100 individual yellow flowers. The outer ray flowers look like petals while the inner disk flowers are tiny and tubular (shaped like a tube).
Vernal Pool Goldfields occur in vernal pools. They have numerous ray flowers that give the flowerhead a round appearance. These two features help to distinguish Fremont’s Goldfields from the other species of Lasthenia which occur at Mather Field.
Life cycle: Vernal Pool Goldfields are annuals. They germinate as the water gets very shallow and warm in the spring. As soon as the pools begin to dry in April they bloom.
Ecology: Vernal Pool Goldfields are the food source for native, solitary, specialist bees. The bees collect pollen and nectar to feed their offspring and, while doing so, pollinate the plants. In some areas of California there is evidence that Native Americans collected the seeds of Goldfields for food. They used baskets to collect the seeds from the drying plants.
Investigate: The solitary bees that pollinate Vernal Pool Goldfields look like small black or dark gray flies. You can tell that they are bees by the yellow pollen stuck into special baskets on the hind legs. Can you find any of these bees on the flowers?