Variable-leaved Nemophila

Variable-leaved Nemophila © DSchiel

Canyon Nemophila, White Nemophila, Small Baby Blue Eyes
Nemophila heterophylla

Description (Jepson,

    • Eudicotyledon
      • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
    • Borage Family (Boraginaceae)
    • Annual herb
    • Leaves
      • Lower leaves are opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem) with deeply-cut, widely-separated, rounded lobes
      • Upper leaves are reduced, with smaller or absent lobing, and may be alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem)
    • Flowers
      • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is a small, white, bowl-shaped flower from the leaf axil (junction with stem)
      • 5 fused petals and dark anthers (pollen-producing part of the stamen/male structure)
      • Calyx almost separate, with downward-curving appendages between each lobe
        • Calyx is the collective term for sepals (usually green, outer flower parts)
      • Ovary superior (attached above other flower parts)
    • Fruit is a capsule (a dry, multi-chambered fruit that splits open at maturity)
    • Height to 5 in.
    Calyx © DSchiel


      • Native to California
        • Grows predominantly in shady places of canyons and slopes of chaparral, foothill woodlands, and forests
        • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
      • Outside California, grows in Oregon
      • Grows at elevations between 100 and 5,600 ft.


        • Provides pollen and nectar to native bees

        Name Derivation

          • Nemophila (neh-MOF-i-la) – from the Greek nemos, “a glade,” and phileo, “to love,” referring to its habitat
          • heterophylla (het-er-OH-fil-a) – from the Greek heteros, “different,” and phyllon, ”leaf,” as the leaves differ on the same plant
          Lower Leaf Lobes © DSchiel


            • Lower leaf lobes have been described as “frog-toes”(Muir 2019)
              • Edgewood docents have called it “froggy toes” or “little frog-foot flower”
            • Previously in the Waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae)

            ID Tips

              • May be confused at Edgewood with the less-common Nemophila species, woodland nemophila (Nemophila parviflora var. parviflora)
                • Variable-leaved nemophila (Nemophila heterophylla)
                  • Lower leaves lobes are deeply-cut and widely-separated
                  • Unique among Nemophila species, petals lack dark spots or striped veins
                • Woodland nemophila (Nemophila parviflora var. parviflora)
                  • Lower leaves lobes are more shallowly-cut
                  • Petals may have dark spots and striped veins

              At Edgewood

                • Found in woodlands
                • Flowers January – April

                See General References

                Specific References

                  Blackwell, L.R. 2012. Wildflowers of California: A Month-by-Month Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.

                    Laws, J.M. 2019. Sierra Wildflowers: A Hiker’s Guide. Heyday Books, Berkeley, California.