Kite Hill, a small park in central San Francisco with excellent views of the city, is home to a grassland plant community. During summer and early fall, the land is parched and golden brown, and native grasses drop their seeds and await the winter rains. By February, the hill transforms to a verdant green. In spring a variety of native wildflowers, including California poppy, checkerbloom, Ithuriel’s spear, and soap plant add color to the grassland.
Soap plant is a lily found only in California. The flowers open up late in the day and are pollinated by moths and bumblebees. Native Americans used the bulb of the plant for many purposes: crushing it into a foamy lather for cleaning, making it into a glue, and cooking and eating the bulb like a potato. Early San Francisco settlers harvested the soap plant tubers for mattress stuffing.