Yes, we have no Wyethia ovata

I've searched high and low in nurseries and online for Wyethia ovata (Southern Mule Ears) without luck. A call to my local (full service) nursery, South Bay Gardens, didn't turn up any leads. Email inquiries to native plant stalwarts Tree of Life Nursery, Payne Foundation, and El Nativo Growers indicates that none of them grow it. Online searches don't turn it up either, but apparently it's easily found on fast mountain bike descents.

As this article notes, Mule Ears are a good choice for wildflower gardens, since they are both hardy perennials and reliable bloomers. As well-adapted as they are to our climate, it is surprising that they are not more common in local gardens and nurseries. It seems to be intrinsic to human nature that people will buy plants from a continent away to put in their garden while ignoring beautiful plants that already thrive in their area.

But for those willing to hike or ride or even drive around in the hills and mountains in springtime, there will be patches of bright sunshine in the form of Mule Ears colonies growing on our slopes.

seed picture from Rancho Santa Ana seed program.


  1. I saw some once at Yerba Buena Nursery, up here in the Bay Area. Recently, in fact. But it's rarely available.

    You know what I would like is Venegasia carpesioides. Have you ever seen that for sale? Even seeds. I would prefer seeds, actually.

  2. *looks up V. carpesioides quickly*

    That's a nice one. I'll have to add it to my list.

    Las Pilitas says that they have it growing on their nursery grounds, but state they are out of stock on all potted plants. I wonder if they would part with seed at the appropriate time of year.

    On W. ovata - I called Yerba Buena and they say they've never had it. They recommended Forest Farms in Oregon, but they don't appear to have it either. I wonder if you're thinking of another Bay area nursery?

  3. I can't believe that. I feel certain I saw it right before my eyes and debated whether to buy it.

    Let me think about it. I know I saw it recently. It looks ugly in a 1-g pot.

    If Las Pilitas will sell you some Venegasia seed, I'll split the cost with you and we can share the seed. :) I never see it for sale. Supposed to be good for dry shade, and I'd like to get it started under my deck stairs.

  4. You're on! I'll email Las Pilitas and see what they say about Venegasia carpesioides seed.

  5. Here's the email I received, below. I'll email back indicating interest.

    I looked on the Payne Foundation web site earlier and they don't list the seeds for sale.


    Hi Brent,
    We just sold out for last year and it is not ready yet, we should have some one gallon pots for sale by this summer.
    Hope this helps. If you would rather grow seeds, you might try Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, California.
    Yours truly,
    Las Pilitas Nursery
    On Jan 29, 2008, at 11:50 PM, Brent wrote:


    I see that your web site indicates that Venegasia carpesioides grows on the nursery grounds, but it's not currently available in pots.

    If you are not planning to grow it for sale, would you be willing to part with seed? A friend and I (him urban, me suburban) would enjoy trying it in our gardens.


  6. In response to questions of whether there exists email notification of when plants would be ready to ship, Celeste at Las Pilitas writes,

    "Gosh, I wish we were so automated, though we do have someone working on that, hopefully soon. As the plants become ready to ship, we put them up on the website in the box for online ordering on each plant page, so the page for Venegasia should have a number in the box when they are ready. that is the best we can do at present. If you are in more of a hurry, the plants we sell at both nurseries, are ready a lot sooner, as they don't have to be as well rooted as the ones that get knocked around in shipping. Those boxes that tell what is available at each nursery are also on the Venegasia page, though they are updated by hand not automatically, so to be sure , it is always a good idea to email before you plan a trip to the nursery."

  7. Found your post through Google search for Wyethia ovata. Any luck finding a source? Would want to get some if possible, thanks!

    1. I never did find Wyethia ovata, Jesse.

      As the earlier comments noted, you could try a phone call to Yerba Buena Nursery. I'm sure they ship.