The Flowers Of Old Forty Four


Sometimes, I wish I could be more like Ferdinand the bull. You remember Ferdinand, right? The character in Munro Leaf’s children’s story who preferred to spend his time in the field smelling the flowers rather than fighting in the bull ring? I’d like to be more like that. I’ve grown weary of the ring.

I’ve been told that the carpet of purple and golden wild blossoms lining Old Forty Four between Millville and Whitmore appears every spring, but this is the first year I’ve really noticed it. Perhaps it’s all the rain we’ve gotten this winter. Or maybe I was finally just ready to notice.

I suppose one reason I’ve ignored the flowers in the past is because I don’t know much about them. I don’t even know their names. But the scenery along Old Forty Four has been so beautiful this year, I felt compelled to stop and capture it with my camera, before the inevitable late spring heat arrives and burns the landscape tawny-brown.

Even though I didn’t know any of their names, I figured I could look the flowers up on the internet, because nowadays you can look up everything on the internet. I wasn’t disappointed. I was able to identify all of the wild flowers I photographed at Maybe I’ll even be able to remember their names.

Old Forty Four is one of Shasta County’s quintessential country roads, a black ribbon of mostly smooth pavement that winds its way past ranches, hillsides and grassland. The traffic is fairly sparse and there are several long straightaways with pullouts where you can stop and smell the flowers. If you haven’t been out this way for a while, you owe it to yourself. Please drive carefully.

In the meantime, please enjoy the slide show!

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at
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30 Responses

  1. Thanks for the beautiful reminder to move a little bit slower and enjoy the ride.

  2. Avatar poohshaw says:

    There are “purple hills” on Oak Run Rd. about 10 miles from the Old 44 and Oak Run Rd. intersection. It’s the lupine blooming!

  3. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Great work and thank you for the names.  David Ledger leads hikes all over the place.  This week was Table Mountain, near Oroville, last week was Clear Creek Trail in Whiskeytown NRA.  His dedication to the Shasta Chapter California Native Plant Society is rather like a local John Muir trying to get people out to appreciate what is free, wild and wonderful.  It is very popular to complaint and whine about what we do not have, but vistas like yours tell us much we do have others can only see in pictures.

  4. Jim Dowling Jim Dowling says:

    Your slide show documents a Spring to remember.  Beautiful pictures.

  5. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    299E has redbud in bloom, but those at the lower elevations have gone to leaf.  Redbud is often next to oak trees which begin to leaf while the redbud is in its glory.  The purply-pink flowers against the spring green of the new oak leaves is stunning.  The higher elevations still have the two early colors.  I once heard a memorable comment:  spring comes up the mountain; fall goes down.

  6. Avatar Ginny says:

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures.  Reminds me of when I was a kid many years ago in Santa Clara Valley, and the first time I was in Redding visiting my aunt and uncle.

  7. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Great pictures and sentiments, R.V.  I blow a few minutes most days trolling and being trolled among the commenters in the Opinion section of the local fish-wrap’s website.  After last week, I’m feeling a little Ferdinand-like myself.

    I love taking the dogs for hikes at Swasey Recreation Area west of Redding this time of year.  The headwaters of Olney Creek are running cool and clear over rocky cascades, and the wildflowers are showing off.  I recommend as another site for identification of plants from pictures.  You can narrow the searches to Shasta County.

    My wife and I went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park a couple of weeks ago to take in this year’s spectacular desert wildflower show.  We posted pictures on our businesses Facebook page (because we’re biologists by trade):



    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      That’s funny Steve I was gonna mention trolling 24/7 in the intro but it didn’t seem to fit!

  8. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    So appreciate this article…I went for a drive out on Millville Plains, Wildcat Rd, Ashceek, Jellys Ferry, Parkville Rd A week ago to enjoy the wildflowers but I didn’t know the names…now I will..thanks a bunch..of wildflowers…

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It must be all the rain! We will pass through those areas on our way to the Red Bluff Roundup next weekend.

  9. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for naming the flowers in your slide show. Some I knew, but most, I did not. I like to tell folks that this is the ten minutes a year that California is green . . . so enjoy it.

  10. Avatar name says:

    There was not much the last couple years due to lack of rain.

    The photos of Old 44 look suspiciously like Whitmore Road.

    Great photos, and story.  Thank you for sharing!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Whitmore Road = Old Forty Four

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It turns out Name you are probably correct. It is Whitmore Road. I thought that Whitmore Road started at Whitmore, but apparently it starts at Millville, as far as the signage goes. I just checked it out. Asked a few of the locals. No one was certain, but you are probably correct. Still, it’s a cool headline.

  11. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Enjoyed the slide show.  The wild flowers are beautiful this year.  And our roses are more beautiful this year than ever before.  Mother nature had just the right temps and rain for all of them.

  12. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Just starting:  The rings of flowers that appear annually as our vernal pools dry out.  If you get a chance and can find them on property that’s accessible, it’s worth taking a close look.


  13. Avatar K. Beck says:

    Thanks so much for the beautiful photos, taking time to get the names of the flowers, and the slide show.

    Shasta CNPS hikes are the best! They know where the wild flowers are to be found even when it has not rained as we would like. Highly recommended.

  14. Avatar Mary Madden says:

    Thank you! Slide show was great.

  15. Avatar Sharon chesnut says:

    Thanks so much – have enjoyed these for many years and love having the names – much appreciated.

  16. Avatar Jason Webb says:

    That’s a beautiful slide show, especially the bird’s-eye gilia.  I don’t even know where Highway 44 runs, but now I kind of want to check it out.

  17. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Reminiscing on one of your earlier columns while catching up on recorded episodes, R.V.   I’m staring to think that each and every episode of “Outsiders” should be titled, “Jump the Shark.”

  18. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Update: Whitmore Road Slighted By Old Forty Four!

    I guess because I was smelling the flowers instead of doing my job, Whitmore Road has expressed a “feeling of being slighted” by Flowers on Forty Four. That’s because the images appearing in the story were actually photographed on Whitmore Road not Old Forty Four. Whitmore Road begins where Old Four Four takes a sharp right south at the stop sign in Millville. From Redding take Highway 44 east past Palo Cedro and turn north (left) on Old Highway Forty Four. At the next stop sign, turn right and head east on Whitmore Road to Whitmore TK miles up the road, or turn left and head west on Old Forty Four back to Palo Cedro. I apologize to the audience and especially Whitmore Road, for the error. To see the most flowers when the sun comes out later this week, go east on Whitmore Road.

  19. Avatar name says:

    It was that certain old looking oak tree that tipped me off that it was whitmore road.  Right around the area where the pig crossing is.

    I have not checked out Millville Plains road, but it would seem that there should be flowers along there also?