Valley grassland is the plant community native to non-riparian areas of Sutter County below approximately 50 feet, including Abbott, Catlett, Counsman, Cranmore, Cunard, East Nicolaus, Ensley, Hinsdale, Josephine, Karnak, Kirkville, Lira, Marchant, Meridian, Nicolaus, Oswald, Progress, Robbins, Sankey, Subaco, Tarke, Tisdale, Trowbridge, Tudor, Verona, and Wilson. It is defined by the absence of trees and of most shrubs. Winter flooding, extremely dry summers, and soil that tends to be somewhat alkaline make it difficult for trees and shrubs to grow. However, despite the name, native grasses or grasslike plants are usually not the dominant plants either. Before the arrival of Europeans, wildflowers were the dominant plants in the valley grassland areas. Now, ploughed farm fields and invasive weeds—primarily annual grasses from other continents—dominate most of these areas. The ecosystem's health, stability, and beauty can be greatly improved by removing the invasive grasses and planting the native wildflowers listed below.

Some of the lowest-lying areas near valley grassland become so flooded in winter that they can become vernal pools, a seasonal form of freshwater marsh. Freshwater marsh is an even more difficult environment for most types of plants than valley grassland is, and vernal pools are even more difficult than year-round freshwater marsh.

The plants listed below are native to valley grassland in Sutter County.1

Shrubs and Vines

Naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum) is named for the fact that it has no leaves except for a few small ones at ground level. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Buckwheats and Beardtongues pages for more information about some of these species.)

naked buckwheat

gaping beardtongue

poison oak

Herbaceous Perennials

Monocots

Grasses and Grasslike Plants

True Grasses

Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) in the California State University Sacramento arboretum. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Bentgrasses and Ryegrasses pages for more information about some of these species.)

spike bentgrass

spidergrass

California brome

inland saltgrass

squirreltail ryegrass (also called bottlebrush ryegrass)

blue wild ryegrass

big squirreltail ryegrass

prairie junegrass

creeping wild rye (also called valley wild rye, alkali rye, or beardless wild rye)

deergrass

Pacific panicgrass

pine bluegrass (also called one-sided bluegrass)

Sedges

Clustered field sedge (Carex praegracilis) surrounds a submerged stepping-stone in a seasonally flooded garden in Marysville. Clustered field sedge grows very well in heavy clay soils that tend to be very dry in the summer but very wet in the winter. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Sedges pages for more information about these and other sedge species.)

valley sedge (also called Santa Barbara sedge)

clustered field sedge (also called expressway sedge)

Rushes

Wire rush (Juncus balticus) next to an outdoor faucet in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Rushes pages for more information about these and other rush species.)

wire rush (also called Baltic rush)

common bog rush (also called soft rush)

Mexican rush

Bulbs and Corms

(See the Cluster-Lilies and Tulips pages for more information about some of these species.)

appendage cluster-lily

harvest cluster-lily (also called elegant cluster-lily)

yellow mariposa tulip

narrowleaf soaproot

wavyleaf soaproot (also called amole)

death camas (also called chaparral zigadene or star lily)

Dicots

Aster Family

The yellow flowers and pinkish grey buds of woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum) mingle with tidytips, common goldfields, bird's eye gilyflower, and scarlet mallow in a Marysville garden. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Daisies and Mule Ears pages for more information about some of these species.)

mugwort

California balsamroot (also called big scale balsam root)

California brickellbush

woolly sunflower (also called Oregon sunshine)

Great Valley gumplant

whitecrown

California goldenrod

California aster

narrowleaf mule ears (also called California compassplant)

whitehead mule ears (also called gray mule ears)

Great Valley gumplant (Grindelia camporum) on a Marysville levee. Photo by queerbychoice. California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice.

Other Plant Families

A very young sacred thornapple (Datura wrightii) in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Milkweeds, Larkspurs, and Lupines pages for more information about some of these species.)

Western lady's mantle

kotolo milkweed (also called Indian milkweed or woollypod milkweed)

narrowleaf milkweed (also called Mexican whorled milkweed)

California goosefoot

sacred thornapple (also called toluaca)

royal larkspur

padre's shooting star

broadleaf shooting star (also called mosquito bills)

Western wallflower (also called sand-dune wallflower or prairie rocket)

California golden poppy

blue toadflax

woollyfruit lace parsnip

miniature lupine

giant blazing star

blue toadflax

San Francisco campion

Royal larkspur (Delphinium variegatum) in Bear Valley. Photo by queerbychoice. The fluorescent orange of sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) mingles with blue flax and arroyo lupine in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice.

Ferns

Goldenback fern (Pentagramma triangularis) prefers full shade, as most ferns do. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Maidenhair Ferns and Wood Ferns pages for more information about these and other fern species.)

california maidenhair fern

California lacefern

brittle bladderfern (also called fragile fern)

coffee fern (also called coffee cliffbrake)

bird's foot fern (also called bird's foot cliffbrake)

goldenback fern

Annuals

Monocots

Grasses

prairie threeawn (also called oldfield threeawn) California bromegrass Scribner's grass Pacific fescue

Dicots

Aster Family

Hayfield tarweed (Hemizonia congesta) and California fuchsia in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Daisies, Goldfields, Tarweeds, and Tidytips pages for more information about some of these species.)

mountain dandelion

hayfield tarweed

Fitch's tarweed (also called Fitch's spikeweed)

glandular hareleaf

common branched hareleaf

California goldfields

smallray goldfields

Fremont's tidytips

common tidytips

Colusa tidytips

wand aster

slender tarweed

slender cottontop (also called Q-tips)

Sierra foothill silverpuffs

Douglas' silverpuffs

elegant silverpuffs wireweed

rod wirelettuce (also called twiggy wreathplant) silverpuffs

California goldfields (Lasthenia californica) mix with clustered field sedge in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. Common tidytips (Layia platyglossa) in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice.

Borage Family

Smallflower fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) and unidentified popcornflowers on Table Mountain. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Phacelias page for more information about some of these species.)

Douglas' fiddleneck

smallflower fiddleneck

weakstem popcornflower

beaked popcornflower

baby blue eyes

sleeping combseed (also called winged combseed)

caterpillar phacelia

Great Valley phacelia

common distant phacelia (also called wild heliotrope)

Douglas' phacelia

tansyleaf phacelia (also called lacy phacelia)

valley popcornflower

common popcornflower

Mustard Family

common dwarf sandweed

shaggy California mustard

sand fringepod (also called hairy lacepod)

mountain fringepod (also called common narrowleaf lacepod)

ribbed fringepod (also called showy fringepod)

slender keelfruit

Pea Family

Sky lupine (Lupinus nanus) on Table Mountain. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Deervetches, Lupines, and Clovers pages for more information about some of these species.)

dwarf white milkvetch (also called twoseed milkvetch)

foothill shortpod deervetch (also called colchita)

desert smallflower trefoil (also called San Diego deervetch)

Spanish clover

hairy bird's foot trefoil

American bird's foot trefoil

Chilean bird's foot trefoil (also called calf deervetch)

chick lupine (also called valley lupine)

sky lupine

arroyo lupine (also called hollowleaf annual lupine or succulent lupine)

Indian rancheria clover

pinpoint clover (also called graceful clover)

hairy maiden clover (also called smallhead field clover)

tomcat clover

Arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) on a levee in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. Tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii) in flower and bud on Table Mountain. Photo by queerbychoice.

Evening-Primrose Family

Mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata) explodes in shades of pink, reddish purple, and white in early May in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Clarkias and Willowherbs pages for more information about some of these species.)

hill suncup

winecup clarkia (also called purple clarkia)

elegant clarkia (also called woodland clarkia or mountain garland)

autumn willowherb

denseflower willowherb (also called denseflower spike-primrose)

narrowleaf willowherb

Tall autumn willowherb (Epilobium brachycarpum) blooms next to a six-foot-tall fence in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice.

Phlox Family

Bird's eye gilyflower (Gilia tricolor) and California goldfields in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice.

bird's eye gilyflower

false babystars

true babystars

thread linanthus

narrowflower flaxflower

evening snow

slender phlox

Other Families

Red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) bloom among river rocks at Parks Bar. Photo by queerbychoice. (See the Monkeyflowers and Paintbrushes pages for more information about some of these species.)

heartscale

red maids

valley tassels (also called narrowleaf owl's clover)

purple owl's clover

Contura Creek sandmat (also called Contura Creek spurge)

thymeleaf sandmat (also called thymeleaf spurge)

pink spineflower

common Oregon timwort

little serpentine springbeauty

white blue-eyed Mary

purple Chinese pagodas

spinster's blue-eyed Mary

doveweed

American wild carrot

foothill tufted poppy

frying pans

warty spurge

Carolina geranium

common bluecup (also called Venus' looking glass)

broadtooth monkeyflower

California sandwort

Douglas' stitchwort (also called Douglas' sandwort)

veiny monardella

cream cups

longspur seablush

Sacramento mesamint

woodland fairy mist

fringed checkermallow

valley checkermallow

shiny chickweed

johnnytuck (also called butter 'n' eggs)

Purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta) in Bear Valley. Photo by queerbychoice. Purple Chinese pagodas (Collinsia heterophylla) in a garden in Marysville. Photo by queerbychoice. Doveweed (Croton setigerus) blooms next to a post in the American River Parkway. Photo by queerbychoice. Foothill tufted poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa) blooms in gravel on Table Mountain. This plant is closely related to the more familiar California poppy and looks like a miniature version of it (about half as big). Photo by queerbychoice. A frying pan (Eschscholzia lobbii) blooms in a garden in Marysville. This plant is closely related to the more familiar California poppy. Photo by queerbychoice. Cream cups (Platystemon californicus) in a garden in Marysville, with the blue flowers of Sonoma sage and a blue bud of baby blue eyes. Photo by queerbychoice. Butter 'n' eggs (Triphysaria eriantha) on Table Mountain. Photo by queerbychoice.

Footnotes

1. CalFlora.org