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    **Distant Phacelia** (***Phacelia distans***) Phacelia distans is a species in the Boraginaceae (Borage) family known by the common name distant phacelia. It is native to much of California including the coastal mountain ranges, valleys, and deserts, adjacent sections of Nevada and Arizona, and parts of northern Mexico. It grows in many types of habitats and is a common wildflower in its range. It is a variable annual herb growing decumbent to erect, its branching or unbranched stem 15 to 80 centimeters in length. It is usually coated in soft or stiff glandular hairs which some people find foul-smelling when touched. The leaves are up to 10 to 15 centimeters long and are divided into several lobed leaflets, sometimes intricately. The hairy flower cluster is a one-sided curving or coiling cyme of many funnel- or bell-shaped flowers. The flower is just under a centimeter long and is usually blue but may be white or varying shades of lavender or purple. It is most often used in a wildflower garden where it is grown from seed. Under suitable conditions it will re-seed itself. As with all annuals, careful weeding is essential. It should be noted that there are a very large number of species in the genus Phacelia. Most are annuals. Gardeners should look for species appropriate to their area and garden conditions. Icon Photo: National Park Service ---

    **Blue Elderberry** (***Sambucus nigra*** ssp. ***caerulea***) Blue Elderberry, Mexican Elderberry, or Tapiro is a deciduous shrub or small tree, growing up to as tall as 30 feet. It is native from Oregon to Baja all the way to western Texas. It has cream or yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the fall. Its berries are one of the most important source of food for birds in California. Blue Elderberry is tough, easy to grow, and grows very rapidly. It can grow from a 1 gallon container to a 15 foot tree in 3 years if happy. It handles a variety of different soil moisture levels once established. It can handle permanently moist soil near stream sides or seeps, and will thrive next to or in regularly irrigated areas. Once established, it also grows well in fairly dry soils, though in drier conditions it will normally go deciduous or semi-deciduous in the summer and fall, and green up in the early winter. Drought-stressed Blue Elderberry's often end up more attractive than ones that get plenty of year round water, frequently developing interesting gnarled branches and thicker though shorter trunks over time. It likes part shade or sun, and will tolerate full shade, though in full shade it will look rangy as its branches search out for more sun. Photos: Copyright © 2015 Barry Breckling ---