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Wild Mustard in the Hills of California

The first Europeans in what is now California were probably soldiers and Catholic missionaries from Spain. They founded 21 missions from San Diego to Sonoma. The missions are currently connected by what is known as El Camino Real — The Royal Road. It is about 600 miles long.

The missions are approximately 30 miles apart, what would have been a day’s journey on horseback. Tradition says that as the padres journeyed from mission to mission, they scattered wild mustard seeds along the sides of the road, especially where it winds, to mark a bright yellow trail in the hills.

I live four miles from Interstate Highway 101 which follows the route of the historic El Camino Real. Where I live is between the missions in San Luis Obispo and San Miguel. Whether the padres dropped the first mustard seeds here, I don’t know for sure, but I can testify that wild mustard grows along the wild places in the hills, in empty lots, and along the roads. Their seeds got here somehow.

Wild Mustard Near my Driveway in Templeton California

All of the photos you are about to see were taken in the middle of April along Scenic Highway California 46 West. It connects I-101 in Paso Robles to California Highway 1 along the coast. Every spring this wild mustard sets the hills around me ablaze. 

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Yellow Hills of Wild Mustard

This shot looks up onto a hill on our property. The trees at the top mark the boundary. Most of the shrubs are coyote brush and poison oak. 

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A Single Wild Mustard Plant

This is a close look at an individual mustard plant. We have four types of wild mustard that commonly grow in this region. I'm not sure which one this is, but I suspect it is black mustard. 

  1. My Fijian Indian neighbour has a store of different herbs and spices that grow in the garden that I used to believe were weeds. She has had a mustard flavour radish growing sometimes and some other plant she calls mustard. No I never heard of it before. I like you thought of only one type

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Mustard Yellow HIlls, Blue Sky with Wavy Clouds

I took this photo from the other side of the highway for a more comprehensive view. The trees on the hill are oaks. You can see how close the mustard is to the highway. 

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Wild Mustard on the Hills in April along California Highway 46 West

I put this photo in for those who might want to share on Pinterest. It's just the right size for that. It shows the long view up to the top of the slope. 

Does wild mustard grow where you live?

I took all the photos. © B. Radisavljevic, all rights reserved.


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