Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 24, 2013

Santa Monica Mountains Wildflower Update 3/23/13

Santa Monica Mountains just published a new wildflower report:

 The blue ceanothus, that is the greenbark ceanothus and the hairy-leaved ceanothus, are now on center stage and have been so for a couple of weeks. It seems the rain we got a few weeks ago has encouraged them to have as fruitful a flowering season as the bigpod ceanothus had. Most of the hikes I’ve done recently have revealed reasonable flower displays but the dry season has generally slowed things down. A lot of the flowers I’ve seen have the rather stunted look I associate with drought stress. There are some good trails out there and I suppose we have to say we are now in the true flower season, but it is rather hit and miss as to whether a given trail is doing well this year. Indeed, in a sparse year the flower reports people submit to this newsletter are even more useful than in a great year when everyone can find flowers by just picking any old trail at random. Let me know what you see.
I spent all of my spare time in January and February working to finalize the fourth update for the SMM WildFlowers iPhone app. Thanks to the fast turnaround at iTunes I met my goal of having it available for download by March 1st. Although I’ve included optimizations for iPhone 5, this update is really just the content update from last season: about 40 new plants and about 800 new or updated pictures. I really wanted to make 1000 plants for this update but stalled out last season at 997. The good news it that I’ve already found my 1000th plant just this past week. I probably won’t post any of these new plants until the season slows down and I can catch my breath.  ‑ ed.

Malibu Creek State Park    Phantom Trail  03/21/13
I used the signed trailhead on Mulholland Hwy for the Phantom Trail. Along the first 1/8 of a mile I found nice displays of Purple Nightshade, Eucrypta, Bush Sunflower, White Popcorn Flower, Indian Paintbrush, and Greenbark Ceanothus. There were also a few Sticky Phacelia . For the next half a mile there is not much happening till you start to get to the top of the ridge. There, I found more Popcorn Flower, Indian Paintbrush, Bush Sunflower, and some Owls Clover. Going on, there is a fork in the trail with the main trail bypassing the ridge, and a trail continuing up the ridge. On the main trail, there are Fiesta Flowers, Fiddlenecks, Ceanothus, and California Peony. On the ridge trail there are some California Poppies on the lower north facing slopes of the first two summits that you come to. The second one has the best display of Poppies, with some Red Maids mixed in. A nice loop can be made by combining the two trails.

Red Rock Canyon Park    Red Rock Trail 03/19/13
Flowers are starting to bloom at Red Rock Canyon Park. I walked up Calabasas Peak MW from Stunt Road, down into Red Rock Canyon to the Red Rock Trail. Starting up Calabasas Peak MW, there is some Morning Glory, Popcorn Flowers, Burr Clover,Bush Sunflower, and Green Bark Ceanothus. Further up the hill there is a nice spot with Coulters Lupine, Chia, and Popcorn Flowers, all growing together. Turning right on the fire road , and heading down into the canyon I saw Prickly Phlox, a Hummingbird Sage,Indian Paintbrush, and more Greenbark Ceanothus. Turning left and going up the Red Rock Trail, there is more Popcorn Flower which becomes more numerous the higher you go. Indian Paintbrush, Chia, and Woolly Blue Curl and starting to bloom here. I also saw a few Yellow Monkey Flowers, Fern Leaf Phacelia and a Slender Tarweed , and at the top of the trail were some Baby Blue-Eyes growing on the north side of the rock formation.

Point Mugu State Park    La Jolla Canyon 03/17/13
Our St. Patrick’s Day hike took us to La Jolla Canyon where giant coreopsis was in full glory along with greenbark ceanothus. Bad news is that the waterfall and pond were DRY. Other species noted were blue dicks, star lily, poison oak, bush sunflower, canyon sunflower, California everlasting, western wallflower, bladder pod, morning glory, wild cucumber, so cal locoweed, coastal lotus, deerweed, canyon pea, succulent lupin, red-stem filaree, wishbone bush, chaparral currant, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, Indian paintbrush, bush monkey flower, tree tobacco, purple nightshade, padre’s shooting star, and hedgenettle.

Circle X Ranch    Backbone Trail 03/16/13
Yesterday (Saturday March 16th) a few of us did a make-up hike on the third section of the Backbone Trail from Mishe Mokwa to Encinal Canyon Road. We identified approximately 53 flowering plants, which is a huge improvement over the original hike back in late February. Highlights included: transition from big pod ceanothus to greenback, white thorn and hoary leaved; creek monkey flower; yellow monkey flower; Parry’s phacelia; collarless poppy; twinning snapdragon; popcorn flower; four different (bush, stinging, dove, and coulter) lupines; coastal lotus; canyon sunflower; prickly phlox; skull caps; star lily; rock rose; and Indian warrior. We also encountered a baby rattlesnake, so watch your step now that the weather is warming up

Follow all of their reports at:  Wildflowers – What’s Blooming in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.


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