Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 10, 2013

Southern and Central California Wildflower Updates 5/10/13

Theodore Payne has a new report for Southern and Central California today. Below are some highlights. To see full report, photos and older reports at: Wildflower Hotline.

I’ve been told that it is prime flowering time for the dogwoods (Cornus nuttallii) in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and that it is worth a weekend trip to the parks to see them. Check out the blooming dogwoods especially in Giant Forest and Grant Grove. It would be hard to find anything so magnificent together than dogwoods and sequoias; and you can see it here! Another great showy plant—flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum) with its large yellow gold flowers— is in full bloom near Potwisha. The Lookout Point near the Mineral King entrance is popping with beauties too. The bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) is stunning with bright yellow blooms against its bluish green foliage. Elegant madia (Madia elegans), monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus) with chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca [Yucca] whipplei) are very showy along the highways as well. Blue spider lupine (Lupinus benthamii) is fading but spots of blue do still dot the landscape here and there.  The California buckeye (Aesculus californica)  is in peak bloom and very showy along Highway 198 through Three Rivers into the national parks. If visiting the area, be reminded that a spring snowmelt is swelling the rivers, so be cautious in these areas.

Across the Valley at the coastal Santa Barbara Botanic Garden well tended spring flowering plants continue to delight visitors. The Meadow Section trail offers colorful California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), Point Reyes meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii var. sulfurea), Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), and purple sage (Salvia leucophylla).The Desert Section has a nice show of pink fairy-duster (Calliandra eriophylla), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi), several species of penstemon (Penstemon spp.), desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), and prickly pears (Opuntia spp.). The stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea) can be found in the Orchid display, and there, look for the  hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) as well. The canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides) is in full bloom throughout the canyon below the picturesque and historic Mission Dam, where wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) and redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) are flowering beneath the redwoods (Sequoia sepmpervirens). Enjoy your visit here!

At Placerita Canyon Natural Area, there is a nice variety of flowering chaparral shrubs, annuals and perennials along the main Canyon Trail. Visit, hike and enjoy this public natural treasure which has recently been refurnished by LA County crews. Along your hike you will see Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon trichocalyx), holly-leaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), sticky-leaf  monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), elegant clarkia (Clarkia unquiculata), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), and common phacelia.

At Hungry Valley SRVA near Gorman, California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are still blooming and a little freshened after the recent rain. Driing south from the North Entrance kiosk along Wheatfield/Powerline/Saltlick trails loop, the poppies greet and wave at you along the roadsides. Powerline Road is especially nice with poppies, lupines (Lupinus sp.) and the balsam root sunflower (Balsamorhiza deltoidea). Chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) is stunning with its tall spikes of large creamy white flowers now in bloom all over the park. Look out too, (well you really can’t miss them!) for the bright red scarlet buglers (Penstemon centranthifolius).

Another botanic garden that has beautiful natives is Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge. Right now the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) are waving their large white flowers high in the air, signaling you to come visit. Another great plant is the mock orange (Philadelphus lewesii). This plant has the most amazing fragrance. You must go and enjoy it. Throughout the garden you will see abundant California wild rose (Rosa californica), penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis, P. heterophyllus and P. centranthifolius) and sages (Salvia spp.). Showy trees include the California buckeye (Aesculus californica) and blue elederberry (Sambucus nigra). The Native Garden Wildflower Patch is displaying tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), five spot (Nemophila maculata) chia (Salvia columbariae) and clarkias (Clarkia spp.). All this color benefits from the incredible backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Zoo Drive at the easternmost end of the Santa Monica Mountains and Griffith Park, has a colorful show of bush sunflower (Encelia californica) and Matillija poppies (Romneya coulteri). Look up at the chaparral covered slopes of Griffith Park for bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and evening primrose (Oenothera sp.). This colorful scene of native flowers nicely frames the Zoo’s wild critters.

It’s the bight pink prickly phlox (Linanthus [Leptodactylon] californicus) popping all over Stough Canyon Nature Center in the Verdugo Mountains and competing for your attention with the showy orange and yellow monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus). The elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) can’t be missed with its showy red-pink flowers. Caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria) is crawling all over the hillsides in Stough Canyon while bush sunflower (Encelia californica) and California wild rose (Rosa californica) are decorating the Nature Center garden.

Take a side trip off the 210 Fwy to visit Eaton Canyon Nature Center. The recent rain has freshened up the landscape and the fragrance of abundant sage species fills the air. The white sage (Salvia apiana) along the trails, black sage (Salvia mellifera) and Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) in the demonstration garden are in bloom. Other natives seen here include golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), phacelias (Phacelia spp.), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and for the first time blooming this year the Western columbine (Aquilega formosa). This plant attracts a lot of hummingbirds, so enjoy that show as well. The blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea) is also beginning to display its sprays of creamy yellow flowers.

Places along the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California still hold a promise of wildflowers, but you probably need to go soon. In the San Gabriel Mountains, the PCT from Mill Creek Summit trailhead to Pacifico Mountain offers some delightful views of the Mojave desert. Some of the desert’s flower species mix it up with the mountain species here. The area is also recovering from the 2009 Station Fire. Look for the yellow Mojave goosefoot violet (Viola purpurea ssp. mojavensis), white forget-me-nots (Cryptantha spp.), pink Modoc gilia (Gilia modocensis) and violet-blue Davidson’s phacelia (Phacelia davidsonii). If that is not enough color for you, the bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) and Johnston’s bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus var. johnstonii) add to the amazing color palette along the trail. Some interesting and lovely members of the sunflower family—scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), San Gabriel Mountain hulsea (Hulsea vestita ssp. gabrielensis) and silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi)—will be showing off for a short time.

With a bit of hunting, wildflowers can still be found at various locations in the Cleveland National Forest. Take the always-beautiful drive on Hwy 74 (Ortega Hwy) and stop at the large meadow at the intersection with Long Canyon Road. This is about 23 miles east of San Juan Capistrano. Walk the meadow and you will find an excellent colony of golden-yellow (Linanthus aureus) in peak bloom, as well as (Viola pedunculata). You’ll also find lots of (Gilia angelensis), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), checker bloom (Sidalcea malvaflora) and a few others in the meadow. Although not wildflowers, you may also want to notice a couple of interesting monocots (rush) that grow here: Basket rush (Juncus textilis) is somewhat uncommon overall, but obvious here. Wire rush (Juncus balticus) is smaller and less conspicuous, but is blooming right at the entrance gate.

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