I’ve been watching the seedlings, and now they’re just beginning to bloom: Ranunculus californicus, a.k.a. “California buttercup.”
I bought a plant at a native plant sale maybe ten years ago. The species gows 18-24 inches tall, is drought-tolerant, and stays pretty showy for a couple months in the early spring with bright heads of these simple yellow flowers carried above the delicate and shiny foliage. It self-sowed readily without becoming weedy, so that one plant became a nice handful. That nice handful, however, got run over by a little backhoe a couple years ago when we did a little addition to the back of the house. Where there used to be garden there was just trampled dirt. Now the first ranunculus are back, maybe not exactly where I’d want them, but close enough.
With too many of these native California plants, they show up at native plant nurseries, but when you go out to the wilds you hardly ever run across them. But one of the last times I was hiking around the local San Clemente Canyon preserve, maybe 3 miles away, I looked down and there it was: Ranunculus californica, as happy on the hillside as it was back home in the garden.