Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 29, 2013

Southern and Central California Wildflower Bloom Updates 3/29/13

Theodore Payne just published a new wildflower report for southern and central California.  Here are some of the highlights.

Flowers are starting to bloom at Red Rock Canyon Park. Best to take the trail up Calabasas Peak from Stunt Road, down into Red Rock Canyon to the Red Rock Trail. Starting up Calabasas Peak , bush sunflower (Encelia californica), and green bark ceanothus (Ceanothus spinosus) are in bloom making a nice burst of yellow and blue color. Further up the hill there is a showing of lupine (Lupinus sp.), chia (Salvia columbariae), and popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys sp.), all growing together. Turning right on the fire road, and heading down into the canyon there is some California prickly phlox (Linanthus californicus),  hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) and paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) tucked around the ceanothus. Turning on to the Red Rock Trail, woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) is starting to bloom along with few yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus sp.), fern leaf phacelia (Phacelia sp.) and slender [clustered] tarweed (Deinandra fasciculata), and at the top of the trail a patch of baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii).

At Point Mugu State Park, along the La Jolla Canyon trail are giant coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea) in full bloom along with greenbark ceanothus (Ceanothus spinosus). Unfortunately, the waterfall and pond along the trail are dry. Other species of note are blue dicks (Dichelostema capitata), Fremont’s star lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii), bush sunflower (Encelia californica), canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides), western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), bladder pod (Peritoma arborea), morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia), Southern California locoweed (Astragalus trichopodus), coastal lotus (Acmispon maritimus), deerweed (Acmispon glabra), canyon pea (Lathyrus vestitus), succulent lupine (Lupinus succulentus), wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis), chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum), fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum),  paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), purple nightshade (Solanum sp.), padre’s shooting star (Dodecatheon clevelandii), and hedgenettle (Stachys bullata). That is a lot of variety for good photo opportunities, so don’t forget the camera.


Pinnacles National Park, our northernmost reporting area, has excellent trails for hiking and viewing wildflowers. Wildflowers can be found throughout the park, but smaller and more sparsely distributed than in many previous years of better rainfall. Along the Condor Gulch and High Peaks trails, ceanothus (Ceanothus sp.) are in bloom. These shrubs are especially dense and fragrant  on the lower western portion of the High Peaks Trail, just above the junction with the Moses Spring Trail. The red-orange of paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) are ablaze along the lower half of Condor Gulch trail with chia (Salvia columbariae) filling in the south facing hillsides. Throughout the park there are yellows, oranges and golds of fiddelnecks, (Amsinckia menziesii), goldfields (Lasthenia californica), wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus) and Johnny-jump-up (Viola pedunculata). Silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons), baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), blue fiesta flower (Pholistoma auritum), and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitata) interrupt the yellow palette occasionally.

In Santa Barbara County, several local species of California lilac (Ceanothus spp.) and manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) are at their peak bloom on the Burton Mesa Preserve north of Lompoc. Deep blue flowered Santa Barbara ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus) and lavender flowered Lompoc ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus var. fascicularis) are scattered throughout the chaparral, as are La Purisima manzanita (Arctostaphylos purissima) and shagbark manzanita (Arctostaphylos rudis).  For a short auto tour, take Burton Mesa Blvd east from Vandenberg Village to Harris Grade and Rucker Roads on the eastern edge of Burton Mesa, where several trailheads provide access to this unique vegetation.  Look for the first yellow flowers of the endemic Lompoc bush monkey-flower (Diplacus lompocensis), which are just beginning to flower.  Many of these species can also be seen along trails in the La Purisima State Historic Park, which features a native plant garden.

If spring break takes you to San Diego, stop at Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve for a hike and picnic. Walk along the Guy Fleming or Razor Point trails to enjoy the fragrant blue and white ceanothus species (Ceanothus spp.), coast brittlebush (Encelia californica) while checking out the spectacular ocean views. Also along the trails you can find jewelflower (Streptanthus sp.), wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) yellow sea dahlia (Leptosyne [Coreopsis] maritima) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). Colorful subshrubs include bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) and black sage (Salvia mellifera).  You need not travel out to the Mojave desert to see flowering Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera). Enjoy it among the Torrey Pines! This is a lovely park in our treasure chest of State Parks and Beaches. For stunning pictures of this park, you are invited to view Eva Armi’s photo album: TPSR Plants in bloom in late March and April by Eva Armi

Wildflowers continue to be good at Harford Springs Preserve in Riverside County, especially along the southern and center trails. The most striking display is the many California bluebells (Phacelia minor) tucked in among the rocks and boulders. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are blooming in large patches on several hillsides with popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Cream cups (Platystemmon californicus) and baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) make pretty patches of cream and blue within swaths of goldfields (Lasthenia  sp.). Ground pinks (Linanthus dianthiflorus) are in the southern part of the park for the first time in several years. Just north of Ida Leona Dr. are chocolate lilies (Fritillaria biflora), Fremont’s star lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii), arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) and the odd looking snakeroot (Sanicula bipinnifitida) poking up along the grassy slopes.

Received the first report this year from  MWD Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet. The Wildflower Loop and Lakeview Trails at this popular Inland Empire recreation area are in spectacular bloom. Here, a little flower that has many fans—the silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi) is plentiful. It’s not the flower though that is so intriguing; it is the seed head! Three phacelias, California bells (Phacelia minor), fern-leaf phacelia (Phacelia distans) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria) are showy now along with their cousins (in the same family) popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys canescens), forget-me-not (Cryptantha intermedia) and whispering bells (Emmenanthe pendulaflora). Large patches of goldfields (Lasthenia sp.) dot the open south facing hillsides and flat drainages.  The gold-orange of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and pale yellow cream cups (Platystemon californicus) make a nice contrast to the blue and purple and arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) and chia (Salvia columbariae). Blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) stand slender and tall among them on the gentle slopes and along the trails.

Arriving to the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve along Clinton Keith Road, the bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) are especially showy. The Plateau has excellent trails with spectacular views on the inland valleys and mountains. Growing among ground pinks (Linanthus dianthiflorus) and California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are very robust red maids (Calandrinia ciliata), goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis) and buttercups, all showy with their pink, red, gold and yellow colors.  Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), pink checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora) and blue dicks, (Dichelostemma capitatum) are also scattered around with a few chocolate lilies (Fritillaria biflora)—like Easter eggs in a grassy basket! Look for patches of miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata ssp. mexicana), baby-blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and balloon clover (Trifolium depaueratum var. truncatum) along trail edges. The bush lupines (Lupinus excubitus var. hallii) and California thistle (Cirsium occidentale var. californicum) are very showy.  Search for another baby blue-eyes species, (Nemophila pedunculata) to add to your list of pretties.  The SRP has many fragile soils, lichens and plants. Please stay on the trails to take pictures of flowers.

In the Cleveland National Forest the grasslands and adjacent areas near Elsinore Peak in the Southern Santa Ana Mountains are showing very good color this week and are highly recommended. There are abundant annuals. Some of the early annuals include fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesi), red maids, (Calandrinia ciliata), evening primrose (Camissoniopsis sp.), chaparral gilia (Gilia angelensis), goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis), ground pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus), deervetch (Acmispon maritimus), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii var. menziesii), and Johnny-jumpup (Viola pedunculata ssp. pedunculata). With some careful hunting the very rare little Hammitt’s claycress (Sibaropsis hammittii) can also be located.

Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria biflora) are especially well represented this year and are in perfect bloom now. Flowering perennials include lots of wild onion (Allium haematochiton), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), wild celery (Lomatium dasycarpum ssp. dasycarpum), California peony (Paeonia californica), buttercups (Ranunculus californicus), purple sanicle (Sanicula bipinnatifida) and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum).

To see the full report, photos and older reports go to:



  1. […] Southern and Central California Wildflower Bloom Updates 3/29/13 ( […]


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