Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red and yellow against blue

with 20 comments

Four years ago today we visited the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California. In addition to touring John Muir‘s house, we checked out what was growing in the native plant garden out front. The first picture shows a couple of oso berries, Oemleria cerasiformis. The genus Oemleria is monotypic, meaning that it includes this one species and no other. Regarding the common name, oso is the Spanish word for a bear, and that’s appropriate, given that there’s a bear on the state flag of California. The second picture depicts California sunflowers, Helianthus californicus, which I’d never heard of till then.

Rather than a quotation today, you’re welcome to read some theories about the origin of the name California.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 2, 2020 at 4:38 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Both yellow and red look great against a blue background. The oso berries look similar to our wild rosehips except that they appear to be more slender and therefore a bit more graceful than the stout ladies of the Alberta rosehips.

    Peter Klopp

    November 2, 2020 at 8:36 AM

    • Oso berry is indeed in the rose family, so the similarity to rose hips is understandable—however stout the ladies are that you mentioned. And yes, the clear blue sky did work well as a colorful isolator and complementer of both subjects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2020 at 9:33 AM

  2. My thoughts ran along Peter’s~I immediately thought “rosehip” when I saw the first photo. I should know better by now than to leap to botanical conclusions but there it is.


    November 2, 2020 at 9:05 AM

  3. I also thought of rosehips when I saw the top image. Both images are lovely with the blue sky.


    November 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM

    • Agreed: the clear blue worked well in both cases. You make three out of three for seeing rosehips. Probably because I’m not a gardener, I didn’t think that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2020 at 10:09 AM

  4. There are very good reasons why we’ve come to call them the primary colors. Other critters who see things more into the infrared or ultraviolet range might disagree with us, but to my eye, these basics are the best.


    November 3, 2020 at 1:22 AM

    • Aye, back to the basics. You’ve raised the question of what becomes of the symmetries and mixing arrangement of our color wheel for a being that sees extra colors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2020 at 6:23 AM

  5. Blue! Blue and yellow impress a fellow.

    I always figured they named the state after Randy.

    Steve Gingold

    November 3, 2020 at 3:35 AM

    • Guess I should link the reference.

      Steve Gingold

      November 3, 2020 at 3:41 AM

    • I’m happy to meet a fellow who’s impressed by blue and yellow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2020 at 6:25 AM

      • I’ve not heard of Randy California till now. I see from the Wikipedia article about him that his real name was Randy Craig Wolfe, and that he “drowned in the Pacific Ocean in 1997 at the age of 45 while rescuing his 12-year-old son Quinn from a rip current near his mother’s home at Molokai, Hawaii. He managed to push Quinn (who survived) toward the shore.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        November 3, 2020 at 6:30 AM

        • Yes, he lost his life in such a tragic way. I am sure that knowledge haunts Quinn. Randy was better known as a member of the group “Spirit”.

          Steve Gingold

          November 4, 2020 at 2:55 AM

  6. Oso berry is actually uncommon, and in cultivation, is quite rare. I can not remember the last time I saw it. Incidentally, I never saw it in the region of Los Osos, although one of the few places I saw it happened to be nearby in San Luis Obispo.
    Embarrassingly, I had not heard of the native sunflower either until you told me about it. . . . sort of like the goldenrod.


    November 16, 2020 at 11:46 AM

    • Learning new things is a joy. I hadn’t heard about your California sunflower either till that day. And now I know that the oso berry is uncommon; as a stranger in a strange land, when I saw it at the Muir site I figured it was typical of the area. Maybe somebody will plant a few in Los Osos so the names can harmonize.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2020 at 12:18 PM

      • Not likely. The so called ‘environmentalists’ still insist that blue gum is native.


        November 20, 2020 at 2:53 PM

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