One of the first wildflowers to bloom here in the Comox Valley is the gold star (Crocidium multicaule). Usually you can expect to see it in early March and this year it was right on schedule, brightening up the coastal gravel flats at Point Holmes and Kin Beach. It’s a small flower, about the size of a quarter, so it is easy to miss. That’s probably why the woman walking at Kin Beach wondered what I was doing lying on the ground photographing … something.
This has happened to me several times before. In Paradise Meadows while photographing common butterwort , a couple thought that I had fallen on the boardwalk and were prepared to begin first aid and CPR. When wearing black I have to be careful not to be mistaken for a small bear when hunched over photographing something small. Once I explained myself and she took a look, she started to realize that the flower was everywhere in the weedy looking field.
While typical gold star habitat has a bit of wasteland look to it, the exposed sand and gravel serve to absorb the heat of the sun and warm the soil, allowing the plant to get a jump start during the cold wet spring. This is a delicate ecosystem and the thinly rooted plants can be easy to disturb. Care must be taken when photographing or observing them.
What looks like a single flower is actually comprised of a cluster of small ray (outer) and disc (inner) flowers—you have to look closely in order to see them. Fleshy basal leaves help prevent water loss. It’s a little plant growing in a tough environment!
The gold star (Crocidium multicaule) is a gorgeous sign of spring on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It blooms early and it is best to look for it now before it is done!
This Google Map shows two of the best locations to view the gold star—Kin Beach and Point Holmes. It also blooms at Goose Spit but tends to be a bit later there. Tree Island is another spectacular location, but more difficult to get to. Small patches can be found at Woodhus Slough as well.