Waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae):
This is a large persistent annual/biennial species that is frequently seen in the coastal sage scrub. Dense hairs cover this member of the waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae) and can cause painful irritation to humans. The chemicals in the hairs are phototoxic, meaning that the degree of exposure to sunlight after direct contact with this plant will determine the extent of the chemical burn impact. In spring, the plants have large, coiled heads (not unlike fiddleheads of ferns) of densely packed, light purple flowers and light green leaves. As the plants age, they darken in color, appearing black in summer but leaving their distinctive straight seed pods sticking up in the air on long stalks above the leaves. This plant is endemic to northwestern Baja California; it occurs close to the US border but has not yet been documented in California.
Amaranth family (Amaranthaceae) [Note: traditionally in the Chenopodiaceae]:
Chenopodium flabellifolium goosefoot– Endemic annual/biennial
This goosefoot is the only plant known to grow on San Martín Island and nowhere else in the world. Because the island and its flora have not been thoroughly studied, it is not a well-known species. However, studies have shown that it is chemically and physically quite different from all other species of goosefoot. Thought to be an annual species, it is possible that plants of this species may live for two years when conditions are good. It is most easily distinguished from the weedy non-native C. murale (that also grows on the island) by its strong scent. The leaves have a pungent odor akin to fish or guano. Under stress in late summer the whole plant may turn red, except the fruits which remain grey. These plants mature at differing rates and drop their seeds quickly. We encountered this species only in about a quarter of the area covered by coastal scrub on the island, making its global range approximately ¼ of a square mile!