Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 17, 2013

Southern And Central California Wildflower Update 5/17/13

 Theodore Payne has anew wildflower updates. Below are some excerpts. See full report, photos an older reports at Wildflower Hotline.

The wildflower season is rapidly fading in the lower elevations, but travel above 3500 feet in our local mountains, and you will be delighted with the variety of species taking advantage of the cooler climate and residual moisture from snow melt.

A segment of the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains between Little Rock Creek Road and Pacifico Mountain is inviting enthusiastic botanists to explore the area. The diversity is great, the numbers of flowering plants is low, so take your time and search for the little beauties. The most colorful trail species include pink splendid gilia, (Saltugilia splendens ssp. splendens), interior goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia), the Mojave ceanothus (Ceanothus vestitus), flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), mountain currant (Ribes nevadense) and bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus ssp. austromontanus). Scattered about, you may spot Burlew’s wild onion (Allium burlewii), rock buckwheat (Eriogonum saxatile), Martin’s paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei var. martinii) and silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi). A more intense search will reward you with canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila) wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), scalebud (Anisocoma aculis) and rock cress (Boechera californica). This part of the trail is well maintained and rises from 5300 feet to 7100 feet in elevation.

The wildflower news is all good out of the Santa Ana Mountains, particularly on the trails along the Ortega Highway. The higher elevation chaparral on public trails is still beautiful and well worth the hike. There is a spectacular variety of wildflowers in the Blue Jay Camp ground, Chiquito Trail, the Los Pinos Peak Trail and the Bear Ridge Loop.  The Cleveland National Forest’s very own monkeyflower (Mimulus clevlandii) stands out as a yellow beacon along the trails. There is still a ceanothus in bloom—the pretty blue wartleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus papillosus). Other iconic chaparral species that you will enjoy include chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), woolly blue curls (Trichostema sp.), sticky-leaf monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), woolly Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium) and golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)

In the San Jacinto Mountains between Idyllwild and Pine Cove, the well maintained forest service roads will accommodate wandering botanists very nicely. The walk will take you through several habitats including pine forest, chaparral and grassy meadows. This area has been greatly thinned as part of a fuel reduction project. Botanically speaking the big winners are scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and Chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) which our now thriving as a result of the open canopy. The heady fragrance of ceanothus wafts on the breeze. The showy pink bracted manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea) which is in its prime right now and the few-leaved checkerbloom (Sidalcea sparsiflora) is frequently encountered in the open grassy spaces along with the less conspicuous is Oak violet (Viola purpurea ssp. quercetorum). Quite amazing is the giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) with leaves up to 9 feet long. In much of Idyllwild one can see Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa), but at the lower elevations you may be lucky to spot its showier cousin the California milkweed (Asclepias californica). Other characteristics plants include bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) and canyon sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus var. vestitus). It is easy to miss the cryptic long-flowered thread plant (Nemacladus longiflorus var. longiflorus) because it blends with the background landscape so well.  But look at the flower of this plant with a hand lens to see it’s tiny orchid like flower. It is a small splendor. The baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii var. menziesii) range in color from deep blue to white.The bright red snow plants (Sarcodes sanguinea) are still popping up everywhere in the pine needle litter.

Dogwoods (Cornus nuttallii) are still all the rage in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and that it is worth a weekend trip to the parks to see them. The best place to see them is 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! If that were not spectacular enough, the 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 a great place to see the bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) with its stunning bright yellow blooms against its bluish green foliage. Elegant madia (Madia elegans), monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca [Yucca] whipplei) are very showy along the highways as well. The California buckeye (Aesculus californica)  is in peak bloom and very showy along Highway 198 through Three Rivers into the national parks.

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