Over the Independence Day weekend, the Mule's Ears (Wyethia) were in full bloom in the Sierra mountains. Around Boca and Stampede reservoirs they were green, abundantly blooming, in company with many beautiful alpine wildflowers.
There are several varieties of Wyethia in the Western United States. Close to home, in California, Nevada and Oregon, you can find the
Woolly Mule-Ears (Wyethia mollis) and the plain ol' Mule Ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis). California is also home to
the California Compassplant (Wyethia angustifolia),
the Coast Range Mule Ears (Wyethia glabra),
the Whitehead Mule Ears (Wyethia helenioides), and the
Humboldt Mule Ears (Wyethia longicaulis). Nevada and Oregon are also home to the
Sunflower Mule Ears (Wyethia helianthoides).
Local gardeners often ask whether Mule Ears can be transplanted from the wild. The answer is pretty much a "No" because of the plant's deep tap root which will most likely be damaged with any attempt to move the plant. Nevertheless, bare root propagation is possible. Collecting seeds from the dry flowers might be fun in the summer sun, but it doesn't usually translate into seedlings next spring, although propagation by seed is your best bet.
The best suggestion we can think of is to take a hike this time of year and visit them where they flourish.
Note: Mule Ears are often confused with Arrowleaf (Balsamorhiza sagittata) which occupies roughly the same home range as Wyethia. Which plant do you suppose is depicted in the photo here?