Tidy-tips © DSchiel

Coastal Tidytips, Common Tidy Tips
Layia platyglossa

Description (Jepson, PlantID.net)

  • Eudicotyledon
    • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
  • Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)
  • Annual herb
  • Leaves
    • Glandular (sticky) and hairy
    • Sessile (attached directly to the stem), i.e. lacking a leaf stalk (petiole)
    • Basal leaves and, sometimes, lower stem leaves with lobes
    • Upper stem leaves narrow and unlobed
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is a solitary radiate head (see Sunflower family)
      • 7-18 yellow female (pistillate) ray flowers, with white tips
      • Numerous bisexual disk flowers, creating a central, golden-yellow dome
    • 4-16 hairy, glandular phyllaries (vase-like floral bracts, collectively called an involucre), in 1 series (rank), matching the number of ray flowers
    • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Fruit is an achene (a single seeded, dry fruit that does not split open)
    • Disk fruits with pappus (modified sepals, outer flower parts) of bristles
    • Ray fruits without pappus and each falls enclosed in its phyllary
  • Height to 28”
Phyllaries © DSchiel


  • Native to California
    • Grows in many different habitats, including foothill woodlands, grasslands, and disturbed areas on clay, sandy, and sometimes, as at Edgewood, serpentine soils
    • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
  • Outside California, grows from southwestern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico
  • Grows at elevations to 5,650 ft.

Uses (San Mateo County Parks prohibits removal of any natural material)

  • Wildlife
    • Frequented by numerous insects, including butterflies and moths
      • Nectar source for Bay Checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha)
      • Visited by the small moth Heliothodes diminutivus
    • Seeds eaten by birds
  • Native people
    • Collected seeds for pinole (Lowry 2014)
      • Pinole is a general term for various flours made from the ground, toasted seeds of wildflowers and grasses, eaten dry or moistened and shaped into balls or cakes (Anderson 2005)
      • “Pinole” is a Hispanic version of an Aztec word

Name Derivation

  • Layia (LAY-ee-a) – named for George Tradescant Lay (1799-1845), botanist who visited California in 1827 with Captain Beechey on the Blossom
  • platyglossa (pla-tee-GLOSS-sa) – from the Greek platý, “wide, flat,” and glossa, “tongue,” referring to the broad-tongued ray flowers
  • Tidy tips – referring to the “neat appearance of the ray flowers” (Corelli 2004)


  • Flowers are fragrant
  • Often seen growing in mass with goldfields (Lasthenia species)
    • Mary Elizabeth Parson wrote in Wildflowers of California (1966): “Among the most charming of our flowers are the beautiful tidy-tips. In midspring, countless millions of them lift themselves above the sheets of golden baeria [goldfields] on our flower-tapestried plains. The fresh winds come sweetly laden with their delicate fragrance. Were they not scattered everywhere in such lavish profusion, we would doubtless cherish them in our gardens.”
Tidy-tips (L) and Goldields (R) © KKorbholz (L) DSchiel (R)

ID Tips

  • The white tips of the yellow ray flowers are unique, making tidy-tips impossible to mistake for other Edgewood flowers
    • Some coastal forms lack the white tips

At Edgewood

See General References

Specific References

Anderson, M.K. 2005. Tending the Wild. University of California, Berkeley.

Lowry, J.L. 2014. California Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Evergreen Huckleberry to Wild Ginger. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Parson, M.E. 1966. The Wildflowers of California: Their Names, Haunts, and Habits. Dover Publications, New York.

Prigge, B.A. and A.C. Gibson. 2013. Layia platyglossa. A Naturalist’s Flora of the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, California. Web version, hosted at Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. United States Department of Interior, National Park Service.

Shapiro, A.M. and T.D. Manolis. 2007. Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.