I've been rather lax with weeding so far this year, partly because I'm cultivating a new attitude towards volunteers such as Carex comans, Prunella vulgaris, and wild strawberries, among others. One volunteer I noticed this year is a plant that also appeared a number of years ago and someone pulled it before it bloomed and I never found out what it was. But I still remembered the leaves, so when I saw them appear again this year, I made sure it was left alone to bloom. Amazing that I can remember the leaves of one unidentified weed that showed up possibly over 5 years ago when I forget so many other things.
The little clump of foliage started sending up long stalks with clusters of flower buds at the top. These buds finally opened to reveal five-petaled, pink flowers with bright yellow anthers. Now I could identify it!
Turns out these flowers belong to Zeltnera muehlenbergii, formerly part of the genus Centaurium and known by the common name of Muehlenberg's centaury. This annual wildflower is native from British Columbia south through California. It occurs in such diverse plant communities as sagebrush scrub, grasslands, evergreen and mixed forests, oak woodlands, and wetland/riparian zones. I'm surrounded by mixed evergreen forests, with a shallow lake bordered by wide wetlands not too far away, so there's plenty of habitat for it. I've never seen it in the park or along the road on my walks, but it must be around somewhere. I didn't catch one in a photograph, but the little native bees love it.
I don't really want it growing in the island bed where it has decided to grow (twice) but the bees love it and I'm learning to be more accepting of volunteers, especially native ones, even if they are pink. I plan on saving seed and scattering it along the dry creek bed (the big one, not the little one pictured above) and in some of the more open wooded areas.