Sawtooth goldenbush is a species of shrub in the asteraceae or sunflower family known by the scientific name hazardia squarrosa. It is native to California and Baja California, where it grows in coastal and inland scrub and chaparral habitats from Monterey County southward. A shrub of variable size, from low and clumpy to sprawling over six feet tall, it is covered in thick, sharply toothed leaves a few centimeters long and is generally not very hairy or woolly other than at the bottom of its outside leaves. It bears discoid flower heads covered in greenish, pointed phyllaries and opening into an array of long yellow to slightly reddish disc florets
There are three recognized varieties of the sawtooth goldenbush with largely overlapping ranges. It provides long lasting summer color and is popular with many insects including butterflies. Butterflies and moths hosted by hazardia squarrosa native to California include isophrictis magnella; Cucullia incresa; and Gabb’s checkerspot, chlosyne gabbii.
There are three main varieties of the sawtooth goldenbrush, two of which are extant in San Bernardino County. Those two are the hazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides, which proliferates from Monterey County to Baja California and hazardia squarrosa var. squarrosa, which ranges from San Benito County to San Diego County. Another variety, hazardia squarrosa var. obtusa, is cataloged as existing in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Kern counties.
Its leaves are leathery or stiffly papery, oblong to obobate, obtuse and tooted, approximately two-thirds of an inch to two inches long. Each leaf is smoother on top, and the bottom may have a superfluidity of white hairs. The flowers are a series of overlapping phyllaries, consisting of individual bracts, which is why the haradia squarrosa resembles in some respects a pine cone, with a flower poking out of the top. The flower is a composite but lacks ray florets. These florets are corralled into a common base, making it appear to be a single flower. Many plants with clusters of flowers will bloom at the same time and provide a splash of color. Blooms are scattered throughout the plant at differing times. The sawtooth goldenbrush sports a red-brown to white fruit of roughly five to eight millimeters. As the flower dries out, the seeds contained therein are dispersed by the wind.
Blooming in the summer and fall generally from June until October, the sawtooth goldenbush has tiny yellow flowers that resemble flowering pine cones complemented by its sharply pointed, holly-like leaves. The flowers serve as a significant nectar source for pollinators. Its preferred habitat is dry, open chaparral, below 4,000 feet, while doing almost as well, occasionally, in sage scrub and grasslands.
Sawtooth goldenbush can take different forms, upright or spreading, as a multi-branched sub-shrub. Typically, these plants are less than three feet high.
Plants that bloom in the late summer or early fall have less competition for pollinators but also have limited access to water. Water loss from photosynthesis occurs during the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen; less transpiration reduces the amount of conversion to oxygen and organic compounds that feed the plant. Nature has provided for the continuation of this species following an evloutionary formula which has traded faster growth and seed production for drought tolerance and the chance of more successful pollination.
Ancestral native Californians boiled sawtooth goldenbush in water to use for bathing, which was thought to be a cure for general bodily aches and pains.
From the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council website, www.calflora.org, calscape.org and Wikipedia.