Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 5, 2013

Southern and Central California Wildflower Updates 4/5/13 – updated

One more southern California Wildflower report. Spencer Westbrook passed on the following observations from photographer Richard Dickey:

it was spectacular along the Hwy 223, especially nice location east/north of the graded groves where the highway runs through Walker Basin. Everything north of 58 was dry or stunted. Bear Mountain and it’s foothills is where the flowers/action is.

You might also want to check out Richard Dickey’s Feral Flowers photographic website.


Theodore Payne’s weekly wildflower report is out. Here are some highlights for areas not recently mentioned on Natural History Wanderings:

We are at the peak of spring in Southern California. The early blooming beauties like ceanothus, peony, milk maids, and shooting stars are fading, being replaced by later-appearing stars like Mariposa lilies, bush monkey flower, and our glorious diversity of cacti. You must get out to some of these areas to enjoy the flowers

 At  Stough Canyon Nature Center in the Verdugo Mountains hike along Stough Canyon or Wildwood Canyon Roads and enjoy the colorful and fragrant, black sage (Salvia mellifera), bush sunflower (Encelia californica), succulent lupine (Lupinus succulentus), golden currant (Ribes aureum) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria). This is an excellent urban escape for a family outing.

Straight north of Hungry Valley and east of Arvin along the Hwy. 223 is a spectacular bloom on the slopes along the highway. Large patches of lupines (Lupinus sp.), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exerta), white forget-me-nots (Crytantha spp.), white layia (Layia glandulosa) and much more. You must stay on the roads if you are exploring and taking photos in this area.

Make sure you visit Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge this spring. You will find the natives blooming profusely throughout the garden. The hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), coral bells (Heuchera spp.), lilac verbena (Verbena lilacena) and desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), along with the cheery bush sunflower (Encelia californica) and several sage species (Salvia spp.) are making very fragrant and colorful displays. Annual wildflowers are also found all over and include purple owl’s clover (Castilleja sp. ), five spot (Nemophila maculata), baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), chia (Salvia columbariae) and California poppies (Eschscholzia californica ).

Check out the rare and beautiful Baja desert rose (Rosa minutiflora) at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. Its prickly branches are covered with a bright lime green foliage and pretty pink rose blossoms with yellow centers. There is also a “sage extravaganza” going on in the garden with purple sage (Salvia leucophylla), black sage (Salvia mellifera), Munz’s sage (Salvia munzii), and hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) in full bloom. Their fragrant cousin, woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) is also in bloom. Enjoy the heady aroma as you stroll along the pathways.

Prisk Native Garden in Long Beach (on the grounds of Prisk School) is having its annual Open House on two Sundays in a row for wildflower watching: Sunday, April 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., and again Sunday, April 14, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Admission free. Donations accepted. Garden is a large, very impressive “schoolyard habitat.” This is the most fun you can have on a Sunday afternoon. Students of all educational levels, as well as the community, use and enjoy this garden and now it’s your turn. Visit student favorites, Mojave bluebells (Phacelia campanularia), orange wind poppy (Stylomecon heterophylla), thistle sage (Salvia carduaceae) golden Lindley’s blazing star (Mentzelia lindleyi), purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta), meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), desert penstemon (Penstemon pseudospectabilis), outrageous red Eaton’s penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), woolly blue-curls (Trichostema lanatum), beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), many color forms of apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitata) and many, many more. Prisk Garden is on Los Arcos Ave. between San Vicente and Albury Sts. in Long Beach.

The gardens at Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy continue to amaze visitors. The riotous color explosion includes goldfields (Lasthenia sp.), owls clover (Castilleja sp.), chia (Salvia columbariae), thistle sage (Salvia carduacea), Canterbury bells (Phacelia campanularia), Mojave lupine (Lupinus ordoratus), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), desert gold poppy (Eschscholzia parishii), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), and desert brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). The beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) has just begun to flower as well! The central habitat garden has many wildflowers, but the shrubby California wild lilacs (Ceanothus spp.), bush poppies (Dendromecon harfordii) and pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla) are very showy here as well. The garden in front of the family clinic has all the wildflowers listed above as well as stunning prickly poppy  (Argemone sp.), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) and cobwebby thistle sage (Salvia carduaceae). Visitors are welcome to visit the campus and enjoy the flowers from 8:00am to 4:00pm Monday thru Friday. They need a visitor pass from the Main Office. The school is located in Cudahy on Elizabeth Street between Atlantic Blvd and Wilcox Ave.

Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is still experiencing a nice bloom especially along the Guy Fleming, Razor Point and Yucca Point trails. Coast brittlebush (Encelia californica), paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), yellow sea dahlia (Leptosyne [Coreopsis] maritima), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) and black sage (Salvia mellifera) frame the colorful annuals hugging the ground—sand verbena (Abronia sp.), jewel flower (Streptanthus sp.), wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), goldfields (Lasthenia sp.), ground pinks (Linanthus dianthiflorus) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). There are showy displays of  Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) as well. 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. 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.

Not far from Harford Springs is the  MWD Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet. The Wildflower Loop and Lakeview Trails at this popular Inland Empire recreation area are in spectacular bloom. 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 tall among them along the trails.

Just a reminder that east of Joshua Tree on Hwy 177 north of Desert Center check out the sightings of desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata), especially showy in the Desert Lily Preserve Natural Area.

Reports from the Bureau of Land Management Office in Needles indicate that there are spectacular flower displays along the highways between I-15 and I-40 and I-95 in the eastern Mojave. Sand vebena (Abronia villosa), dune evening primrose (Oenothera sp.), creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), notch-leaf phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), lupines (Lupinus sp.) and desert encelia (Encelia farinosa) are all visible from the highways. It is especially showy where the bright yellow flowers are contrasted against the black lava flows of the region. Take a little detour along old Route 66 between Needles and Amboy and you will be impressed with the beautiful roadside wildflowers. You must get out and walk around because there are many belly flowers out there that can’t be seen from the car. The Mojave yucca are producing impressive displays in the area as well. Along old Route 66 from U.S. 95 to Fenner the roadside has exploded with desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata).  U.S. 95 south from Needles to Vidal Junction has nice displays of desert dune primrose (Oenothera sp.), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Mojave pincushion (Chaenactis sp.), and a few very nice prickly poppy (Argenome corymbosa) in Lubick Pass. Turtle Mountain Road 23 miles south of Needles on US 95, beaver tail cacti (Opuntia basilaris) are in full bloom and the fishhook cacti (Mammalaria sp.) are just going wild! A note of caution: the bloom has brought out the tortoise in great numbers.  Please use caution when driving these areas to avoid harming this threatened species.

Death Valley National Park has experienced an abnormally dry winter and spring. There’s not much in bloom with a couple of exceptions. A couple of weeks ago we mentioned flowers in bloom around Jubilee Pass— Arizona lupine (Lupinus  arizonicus), small flowered poppy (Eschscholzia minutiflora), desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), Panamint forget-me-not (Cryptantha angustifolia), and evening primroses (Chylisma claviformis and Chylismia brevipes). Add to that the very photo worthy desert fivespot (Eremalche rotundiflora). One area in the Park that is readily accessible to most visitors is a stretch of Furnace Creek Wash along Hwy 190 extending for about five miles east of the intersection of the road to Dante’s View. The wash and its adjacent banks are full of gravel ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla), Emory  rock daisy (Perityle emoryi), golden evening primrose (Chylismia [Camissonia] brevipes), shredding evening primrose (Eremothera [Camissonia] boothii subsp. condensata), notchleaf phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), broad-flowered gilia (Gilia latiflora), small-flowered poppy (Eschscholzia minutiflora), desert gold poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma), desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), pebble pincushion (Chaenactis carphoclinia), Fremont Pincushion (Chaenactis fremontii), scented cryptantha (Cryptantha utahensis), lesser mohavea (Mohavea breviflora) and desert trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum). In Greenwater Canyon off the Greenwater Valley Road, there are good displays of the flowers mentioned above in addition to goldfields (Lasthenia californica), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), desert tobacco (Nicotiana obtusifolia) and Bigelow’s monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii). Note that Greenwater Canyon is for a dedicated hiker, probably not a casual visitor.

See full report, photos and older reports at: Wildflower Hotline.

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