A tiny plant growing from a dry rocky trail

by Paul Carlson
(Hayward, California )

Fractal Plant

Fractal Plant

I found this plant at the side of a bone-dry, rock-hard hiking trail on a ridge here in the Easy Bay hill near San Francisco.
The individual leaves are soft, and tiny, hardly a millimeter or two long. They're arranged in rows, and those are on branches, if that's the word, no more than half an inch long.

Frankly I don't know if it's a succulent, but that's as close as I know.

I've been hiking this area all my life, but never noticed this type of plant until last week. I could only see one of them.
(Sorry I only had my cell phone camera along, this really needs a macro lens.)

Comments for A tiny plant growing from a dry rocky trail

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Jul 26, 2014
by: Jacki

Hi Paul, wow, what a find! I don't know what this plant is, but it's a sure bet that it's a native plant to this area.

With any luck, someone will know what it is, but for now, I have no idea.

Perhaps if you do a search for plants native to San Fransisco area?

Feb 03, 2017
Probably Native
by: Shinies

I've lived in the East Bay most of my life and I've seen these plants before. I believe they are yarrow, and it's fairly common, although not a succulent. This particular one looks a little... dry, and probably growing slowly. It's hard to see the detail of the leaves in your photo, so you'll have to decide if that's what it really looks like, but if I remember right, I've seen these and they get a lot larger and have big flowers of varying colors. If you google it, you only see large specimens for the most part, although here's a couple links to some small ones that look sort of like your photo: http://www.nantahala-farm.com/images9/yarrow-seedling-with-quarter-017-400.jpg

The other thing it could be is a wild carrot (Daucus carota), which looks very similar when small and also has tall flowers.

Feb 04, 2017
Two Responses
by: Paul Carlson

Dear Shinies,

Thanks very much for your comments.
We may never know for sure, that was a heavily used trail and the seedling I photographed is probably long gone.

I did contact the California Academy of Sciences, and my apologies for not posting their response here on this page. (It took a while for them to get back to me.)
I include that response below.

Sincerely, Paul C

*** "That's a species of crane's bill, genus Pelargonium. It's a weed, but an interesting one. It thrives in areas with a lot of air pollution because the air pollution adds nutrients to the soil."

Here is some information about Pelargoniums:
Your plant may grow up to be a succulent shrub! ***

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