Scientific Name: Crocidium multicaule. (The pioneers called them buttercups).
FACTS: Little gold stars are one of the first greeters of spring, bursting forth with bright yellow flowers at the start of the growing season.
They are a member of the Columbia Gorge sunflower family. An annual on the Hermiston Butte, they seldom reach above 4 inches tall, with showy yellow gold flowers less than an inch in diameter. The leaves are mostly arranged around the base and are fleshy, about 3/4 inch in size.
The flower stalk is single or occasionally branched, having one flower head per stem. Flower heads usually have eight rays, with as few as five and as many as 13.
Like most desert flowers, gold stars are opportunists. They germinate, bloom and leave their seeds during the brief time when the soil is moist enough for them to survive, and are gone by mid spring.
Gold Stars are not endangered, but are limited in range to Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, with some reported on Vancouver Island.
Where to find: On the Hermiston Butte, they can be seen in the little valleys and swales along the hiking trails on the east side.
A word of caution, if you should go up the Butte to see these little gems, do not pick them. They will not survive over an hour even with the most careful handling. Leave them for others to enjoy.