A Field of Mustard

A Central California Field of Mustard - A previous Photo of the Week

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A field of mustard framed by a ranch gate

Springtime scene in Central California - fields of wild mustard - this framed by a ranch gate

Photo by Bev Sykes ("basykes") - link to original

15 Jun 2012


As far as I can tell, mustard (aka common mustard, field mustard or wild turnip) is not a native species either in California or in North America, but was introduced from Europe. This week's Photo of the Week shows just how successful this plant has been in the wild here.

The traditional (and probably true) story has always been that Father Junipero Serra, the founder of the California mission system, introduced mustard to the region. As he and the other friars trod along the El Camino Real, they sowed mustard seeds. The story further relates that one of the reasons for this planting was to mark the route with the yellow flowers.

Another reason was to increase the availability of this plant which was prized for its medicinal properties.

That's all interesting, but somewhat beside the point of the Photo of the Week.

On these pages we're interested in the beauty found here in Central California.

And if you visit here from the end of winter into early summer, you will find hillsides awash with the yellow blooms of mustard and valley floors, such as the one in the photo, literally carpeted with the blooms and the verdant green of the plant. Field of mustard framed by ranch gate

The mustard doesn't last very long into summer, though. It dries up and spreads its tiny seeds for the next year's bloom.

But while it lasts, it is pretty. I have seen mustard, after a good winter's worth of rain, grow to well over six feet high! It doesn't always do that, but it is vigorous when the conditions allow.

If you are visiting Central California during the time of the mustard bloom, you will notice it just about everywhere.

But don't let its abundance dull you to its beauty. That's one of the reasons why my wife and I so enjoy backroads drives. Even if we've been on a particular road before, there is always something different or something to be seen in a different way.

For me, that's what makes this photo so interesting. The rusty color of the gate is a perfect complement to the yellow of the blooms and it frames the scene so perfectly.

It's rather fun looking for photos to showcase here. Sometimes I find one while looking for something else. Other times I don't know until late what might be the selection.

You do know that YOU can submit photos here to be considered for the Photo of the Week, right?

A macro shot of a mustard flower

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