Pale-green, iris-like, basal leaves arise from creeping rhizomes which expand the colony year by year. Leaves turn black upon drying. 6-16 in. stems bear clusters of small, star-shaped golden-yellow flowers. Individual flowers last only one day but are produced in great quantities. 1 or few delicate, bright yellow flowers, resembling 6-pointed stars, held above leaves atop a flat stem in 2 broad bracts, generally with 1 flower in bloom at a time; 1 cluster of narrow, sword-shaped leaves near base.
There are only a few yellow-flowered Sisyrinchium in the West. Two species from Arizona resemble S. californicum, both called Yellow-eyed or Golden-eyed Grass: S. cernuum, found in southeastern Arizona and Mexico, has petal-like segments less than 1/4 (6 mm) long, with flowers on slender bent stalks; S. longipes, found from northern Arizona to Mexico, has petal-like segments 3/8-1/2 (8-13 mm) long, with flowers on erect stalks. Elmers Golden-eyed Grass (S. elmeri), which has stems generally less than 1/8 (2 mm) wide, is found in much of California. Arizona Golden-eyed Grass (S. arizonicum) is a robust plant with branched stems bearing yellow-orange flowers more than 1 (2.5 cm) wide; it grows in the mountains of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
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