Plagiobothrys nothofulvus growing in a field.  Image taken by and used with permision from Eric Hunt.

Where Can You Find Them?

Plagiobothrys nothofulvus has a fairly restricted habitat.  It is found exclusively in the northwestern region of the United States, mainly in northern California (Calflora 2014).  It is native to California (ITIS 2014).  Populations of Plagiobothrys nothofulvus have also been recorded in southern Washington state, specifically in the Columbia River Gorge, and as far south as Baja California (Rickett 1971).  

Plagiobothrys nothofulvus range.

The northwestern coast of the United States provides the ideal growing conditions and climate for Plagiobothrys nothofulvus.  This region experiences a Mediterranean climate, with wet winters and dry summers.  It has been hypothesized that the long-term weather patterns associated with this region of the United States have led to a high level of biodiversity, thus allowing many different species, including Plagiobothrys nothofulvus, to develop (Lancaster and Kay 2013).  As an annual herb, the main blooming season for Plagiobothrys  nothofulvus occurs from roughly February- April, but it may be found blooming as late as May (Calflora 2014, LBJ Wildflower Center 2014).  During this time of the year, California is in transition from its wet winter months to the warmer, drier summers.  It has been noted that roughly two-thirds of the total annual precipitation in this region falls from December- March, right in the middle of the blooming season for the popcorn flower.  Rainfall is much lighter from May- September, but the region is never extremely dry (Talbot et. al 1939). The higher levels of moisture at the beginning of the blooming season ensures that Plagiobothrys nothofulvus is receiving enough water to grow properly.

Popcorn flowers can be found growing in coastal grasslands, either in flat fields or on the sides of hills (Talbot et. al 1939, Rickett 1971).  These locations provide full sunlight, which is very important to Plagiobothrys nothofulvus for photosynthetic processes.  Because of the great sunlight exposure in these areas, popcorn flowers are usually found growing in fields with many other types of plants.   Some species that grow in habitats similar to or with PlagiobothrysPopcorn flowers & Lupinus growing together. nothofulvus include Aster chilensis, Lotus angustissimus, Plantago lanceolata, Galium parisiense, and Brodiaea terrestris (Tierney and Cushman 2006).  Other species that may be found growing alongside the popcorn flower include Elymus elymoides and Bromus hordeaceus. All of these species require relative warmth and moist growing conditions year round, so the Mediterranean climate of the north and western United States is perfect for them.  While Plagiobothrys nothofulvus may be found growing among other flowering plants, it is also commonly found in grass (LBJ Wildflower Center 2014).

Next click on Form and Function to learn how P. nothofulvus has adapted to its habitat!