floral friday – Hackelia nervosa

Welcome to a new installment on itsy bitsy beetle!  I’ve recently been photographing numerous flowers and since part of the purpose of this blog is to help me learn new things, I’m going to try and start identifying those flowers/plants and share that information with you.

Remember Mr. Mustache Bee?  Well, you may have noticed the gorgeous flowers that he was visiting in the photograph.  These flowers belong to the plant Hackelia nervosa, more commonly known as the Sierra stickseed.  This beautiful plant is native to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  The flower inflorescences are usually blue to violet with the flower buds often appearing pink (see below for a perfect example).  Apparently, the flowerheads start off compact, as they appear in my photographs, but the stems elongate later in the season, separating the flowerheads from one another.

The common name of “stickseed” refers to the fruits of this plant, which are dry and prickly on the outside.  They are those annoying little burrs that you get when hiking around that stick to your shoelaces and pant legs.  Amazing how such an annoying fruit was once such a beautiful flower!


1.  Norman F. Weeden (1996), “A Sierra Nevada Flora” (4th ed.), Wilderness Press.

2.  John Muir Laws (2009) “The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada“, California Academy of Sciences.


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