Nemophila menziesii

Nemophila menziesii has previously been featured on BPotD, but with very little write-up, so I’ll rectify that today.

Nemophila means “woodland-loving”. Of the few times I’ve observed baby blue-eyes, most have been on the margins of forested areas. Nemophila is strictly a North American genus, with a couple species occurring in the southeast USA and the other nine in western North America. Nemophila menziesii is common in California, Oregon and Baja California. The USDA PLANTS database reports it as also occurring in Wyoming (via a personal communication) and an introduced species in Alaska (!).

Even though baby blue-eyes is always cheering for me to see, I don’t share the same thoughts about its family (the Hydrophyllaceae) in general, having been irritated by the hairs on the plants of some of its familial relatives like Phacelia. That said, I do admire the family for its tenacity, with some representatives able to grow at the “green edge” of very dusty gravel roads, others able to handle well-draining sandy soils of deserts and yet others managing to be among the first to bloom in the cold mud of still-melting snowbank margins. Nemophila menziesii, however, prefers more moderate habitats; the Jepson Manual treatment for Nemophila menziesii mentions “meadows, fields, woodlands, roadsides, grasslands, canyons”.

CalPhotos has an extensive image collection of Nemophila menziesii, including many flower colour or pattern variants.

Nemophila menziesii

6 responses to “Nemophila menziesii”

  1. Paddy Wales

    Daniel, usually I admire the photos, but today, it’s the writing that is intriguing. Thank you.

  2. Eric in SF

    One of my favorite California natives! It’s in bloom from about early April all the way through June at higher elevations.
    Some more shots, showing the wide variety of spotting and color intensity:

  3. Ken

    Nice use of narrow depth of field.

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    nature will bear the closest inspection.She invites us to lay our eye level
    with her smallest leaf,and take an insect view of it’s plain– thoreau
    thank you lovely flower we used to call frank sinatra old blue eyes
    the roadside photos and forest pictures are ever so nice thank you all

  5. Eric Simpson

    I have a few of these growing in my yard right now, as well as N. maculata and Phacelia tanacetifolia. Daniel, the Phacelia won’t bother you… if you refrain from petting it;-) I’ve also got Clarkia unguiculata and C. amoena. Having a yard-full of annuals makes weeding kind-of a pain-in-the-a$s, but seeing them all in bloom makes the effort worthwhile. The Clarkias and the Phacelia do a decent job of reseeding themselves (at least for a few years), but the with Nemophilas I have to put out new seed every year. If I can put in a plug here: I get my California native seeds from the Theodore Payne Foundation ( ), a fine group (celebrating their 50th year) that offers seeds and plants for hundreds of CA native species, and they have a good online library for those interested in growing them.

  6. megan esler

    Wonderful pictures and comments almost every day-what a treat!
    Would it be possible to post the date the photo was taken if known? I really appreciate the location info that you added about 4 years ago.

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