Caulanthus californicus

Common Names:
California caulanthus, California Jewelflower
(S. Wats.) Payson
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Dieter Wilken
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

The conservation of Caulanthus californicus is fully sponsored.
Dieter Wilken contributed to this Plant Profile.


California jewel flower, an annual in the mustard family, germinates after winter rains and flowers from February through May. Plants are typically branched, with clasping leaves. The striking inflorescences appear to have flowers that appear purple or white, sometimes green- to purple-tinged near the sepal tips of upper flowers. Open flowers bear white to greenish sepals, and narrow, crinkly, white petals (Rollins 1993). However, the dark purple terminal flower buds remain closed, and may provide a striking contrast to reproductive flowers for the purpose of attracting insects. Once widespread in the southern San Joaquin Valley and adjacent foothills, it is now restricted to three general areas of Fresno, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties. Most of the historic locations, including over documented 40 occurrences, have been lost primarily as a result of agricultural development and grazing (Taylor and Davilla 1989). California jewel flower has sometimes been placed in a separate genus (Stanfordia) based on the compression of the fruit and the seeds (Buck 1993; Rollins 1993). Most current California references use the name Caulanthus californicus (Anonymous 2008a, 2008b; Buck 1993).

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research