Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 31, 2013

Southern And Central California Wildflower Report 5/31/13

Below is the Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline  final report of the year. To see photos and older reports go to Wildflower Hotline.

A segment of the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains from Little Rock Creek Road to Three Points has a great diversity of flowering plants awaiting  exploration by plant enthusiasts. Because of the dry year, the total number of these plants is low but the diversity is splendid. The winner of the sweetest little flower is the three lobe oxytheca (Sidotheca trilobata). You will see both a red paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei ssp. martinii) and a yellow paintbrush (C. plagiotoma) coloring the landscape.

Challenge yourself to find everything on this checklist! There are blazing stars (Mentzelia congesta), splendid gilia, (Saltugilia splendens ssp. splendens), silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi), scalebud (Anisocoma aculis), Mojave linanthus (Linanthus breviculus), santolina pincushion (Chaenactis santolinoides), rock buchwheat (Eriogonum saxatile), Fremont’s pincushion (Phacelia fremontii), chia (Salvia columbariae), oak violet (Viola purpurea var. quercetorum), canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila) wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), common muilla (Muilla maritima), diamond-petaled clarkia (Clarkia rhomboidea), whispering bells, (Emmenanthe penduliflora), yellow pincushion (Chaenactis glabriuscula), white tidy tips (Layia glandulosa), ground smoke (Gayophytum diffusum), Mt. prickly phlox (Linanthus pungens), Davidson’s phacelia (Phacelia davidsonii) red-stem and narrow leaf miner’s lettuce (Claytonia parvifolia and C. rubra ssp. rubra), Parish’s larkspur (Delphinium parishii), and imbricate phacelia (Phacelia imbricata). Whew! Congratulations if you found all those!  Now for the shrubby chaparral species. There is goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia), the Mojave ceanothus and chaparral whitethorn  (Ceanothus vestitus)  and C. leucodermis), flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), sticky leaf monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), penstemons (Penstemon grinnellii and P. centranthifolius), broad leaf lotus (Horsackia crassifolius var. crassifolius) and bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus ssp. austromontanus). This part of the trail is well maintained and rises from 5300 feet to 5800 feet in elevation. It is drier than other parts of the PCT discussed in previous weeks, so be prepared with plenty of water.


There is another little flower hotspot  in this area. On the Angeles Crest Highway, drive 2 miles east of Sulphur Springs Road to where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Angeles Crest Highway. Walk down the PCT on the right hand side of the road to a little seasonal stream channel. There are several small flowers growing here— sometimes only a couple of plants, but a fun sleuthing challenge to find them. Look for  pine gentian (Fransera neglecta), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), Mojave phacelia (Phacelia mohavensis), Grinnells’s penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii), California milkweed (Aesclepias californica), snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea), triplet lily (Tritelia lugens), whiskerbrush (Linanthus ciliatus), Mojave linanthus (Linanthus breviculus), opposite-leaved tarplant (Madia minima) and streambank clover (Trifolium wormskiodii). All of these are splendid little plants.

Along the Waterfall Trail at Placerita Canyon Natural Area, Humboldt lilies  (Lilium humboldtii) are in bloom. This is a spectacular plant! In those shaded canyon areas, you can also spot wild California rose (Rosa californica), and boykinia (Boykinia sp.). On the sunnier trails, you can view our iconic chaparral species of flowering shrubs and seasonal wildflowers. Look for  chaparral honeysuckle (Lonicera interrupta), and the red-orange heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella  cordifolia) arching their branches over other shrubs to reach the light. Golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), the fragrant vervain (Verbena sp.) and the interesting perezia (Acourtia microcephala) will definitely catch your eye. Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum), holly-leaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), sticky-leaf  monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), and chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) are quite showy. The nice bloom of elegant clarkia (Clarkia unquiculata) and farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), tell us that spring in the chaparral is coming to an end.

At Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge, enjoy both natives and Mediterranean relatives that are still showy throughout the garden. Golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) forms bright golden-yellow beacons along the pathways; and along with the showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), makes a spectacular blue and gold welcome banner for visitors. Enjoy too, the fragrant mock orange (Philadelphus lewesii) and coyote mint (Monardella villosa). Woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanata), foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus) and Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) are also very showy and attracting hungry hummingbirds. Lastly, enjoy the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) standing tall and showy with their large white flowers.

If you are trekking Upper Zuma along the backbone trail, look for elegant and purple clarkias (Clarkia unquiculata and C. purpurea), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), white chaenactis (Chaenactis artemissiaefolia), and California thistle (Cirsium californicum). Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), globe lilies (Calochortus albus), and creek monkey flower (Mimulus guttatus) are staking out the shaded shelters. Chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), black sage (Salvia mellifera), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia), and golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) are all reliable and showy chaparral bloomers.  Some unusual cuties you may see include paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), red-skinned onion (Allium heamatochiton), canchalagua (Zeltnera venusta), checker bloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora), blue larkspur (Delphinium sp.) and  cliff aster (Malacothrix saxatilis).

 Visit Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden to see a native plant lover’s favorite woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) “going gangbusters” up on the Mesa trails. In the desert garden, prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.), fairy dusters (Calliandra eriophylla), desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), and the ever majestic yuccas (Yucca schidigera and Y. whipplei) making a nice show. Look for seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) and Hooker’s evening primrose (Oenothera elata) around the ponds and sticky-leaf monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and various penstemons (Penstemon spp.) along the sunnier pathways. The bush snapdragon (Keckiella antirrhinoides) and California buckeye (Aesculus californica) are scattered around. Over in the Channel Island section, dune primrose (Oenothera deltoides) and Island mallow (Malacothamnus clementinus) are very showy especially in early morning and late afternoon. Every trail has a blooming treasure, so take a nice long walk and enjoy your visit.

Something good is happening at Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy! The huge diversity of flowering plants just continues to give joy to all visitors. The Desert Garden has brown-eyed primrose (Chylismia claviformis), thistle sage (Salvia carduacea), Canterbury bells (Phacelia campanularia), desert blue bells (Phacelia parryi), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), chia (Salvia columbariae), owls’ clover (Catilleja sp.), Spanish needle (Palafoxia linearis), forget-me-nots (Cryptantha sp.) and even Mojave lupine (Lupinus odoratus).  Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), chuparosa (Justicia californica) and skeleton milkweed (Asclepias subulata) continue to provide a bonanza of colors. Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) is starting to bloom in mass and its bright yellow dominates the landscape. Matilija poppies (Romenya coulteri), desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), Santa Rosa Island white-felted paintbrush (Castilleja hololeuca), red Island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande ssp. rubescens), Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), chaparral honeysuckle (Lonicera interrupta), San Diego sunflower (Hulsea californica),  pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), Santa Catalina Island Snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa), Farnsworth’s jewelflower (Streptanthus farnsworthianus ), blue palo verde, (Parkinsonia sp.), white sage (Salvia apiana) and clarkias (Clarkia spp.) are painting the Central Habitat Garden with a kaleidoscope of colors! Elizabeth Learing Center is open for three more weeks….shuts down for a week and is open again for the rest of the summer.

In the Santa Ana Mountains, the San Juan Loop trail off the Ortega Highway (across from the Candy Store) still has good flowers. Parry’s larkspur (Delphinium parryi) can be seen in profusion. Closer to the ground and lining the trails is wedge leaf horkelia (Horkelia cuneata) and Turkish rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides) with scattered patches of canchalagua (Zeltnera venusta). Protected by boulders and twisted exposed roots of older shrubs you may find lance-leaf dudleya (Dudleya lanceolata). In open, sunny areas look for splendid Mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) waving their pretty pink corollas. The stalwarts of the chaparral, California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) are blooming profusely as well. The hike is an easy two miles. If someone wants to extend it, they can take a side trip off to the well-marked Chiquito Trail, which also has flowers.

The Santa Rosa Plateau offers the amateur botanist very nice trails with beautiful views of the local mountains and inland valleys. Several late spring bloomers are waiting to be admired and three pretty bulb plants are the current flowering stars. Dwarf brodiaea (Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensis), splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) and Weed’s mariposa lily (Calochortus weedii var weedii) are just stunning. Other late blooming beauties include leafy daisy (Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus), mustang mint (Monardella lanceolata), and lupines (Lupinus excubitus var. halii) and L. bicolor).  You won’t be able to miss the colorful line-up of purple nightshade (Solanum parishii), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra), silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi), Indian pink (Silene laciniata), and white three spot (Osmadenia tenella). The more common but just as colorful chaparral species form a vivid background and include bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), southern honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. denudata) and white sage (Salvia apiana). 

Near the village of Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains, hike the  Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail and be pleasantly surprised by the amazing bloom in what most consider a dry year. There are small patches of Chinese houses (Collinisa concolor) scattered about, and the spearleaf mountain dandelion (Agoseris retrosa) is shedding its fluffy seeds into the air.  The season for the diamond-petalled clarkia (Clarkia rhomboidea) has arrived and individuals are showing up in several locations. The spotted coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata) is just beginning to bloom, but bring a magnifying glass to enjoy the tiny flowers of this native orchid. On the macro size, golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum), pink bracted Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea) broad leaf lotus (Hosackia crassifolius var. crassifolius) and mountain whitethorn (Ceanothus codulatus) dominate as background shrubs.There are paintbrush (Catilleja applegatei ssp. martinii) and wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum var. capitatum) aplenty. The fragrant grape soda (Lupinus excubitus var. austromontanus) and the bajada lupine (Lupinus concinnus) are blooming beautiful blue. Just follow your nose to these fragrant plants. Mariposa lilies (Calochortus invenustus) and wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum) are pushing up beautiful flowers from their underground bulbs, and the splendid gilia (Gila splendens) and jewelflowers (Streptanthus bernardinus) are putting on a nice display as well. Keep your eye out for the delicate little rock cress (Boechera californica), woodland star (Lithophragma affine) and whiskerbrush (Leptosiphon ciliatus). Don’t forget to search for the most colorful of the blooming plants, the wild red snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) and the bright yellow/gold of the hulsea (Hulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha). Idyllwild is a nice place to take a leisurely hike, then spend a relaxing day sightseeing in the village.

If your first vacation destination is in the Sierra Nevada,  the dogwoods (Cornus nuttallii) are still in bloom at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, though they are in final flowering stages in Giant Forest. However, a lot of other interesting wildflowers are blooming at the higher elevations in Sequoia, from now until August! The California buckeye (Aesculus californica) is in bloom along Highway 198 through Three Rivers into the national parks; and lastly, the farewell-to-spring clarkias (Clarkia sp.) can be seen dotting the landscape here and there.

The eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is also very nice. There are showy displays of desert sena (Senna armata) in full bloom along Highway 395 south of Ridgecrest. The road to Upper Gray’s Meadow west of Independence is spectacular with bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus). Pumice Valley including Panum Crater and the Convict Lake area has a blush of pink all over the landscape. Skunky monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus ssp. mephiticus), desert peach (Prunus andersonii), desert phlox (Phlox stansburyi), wax currant (Ribes cereum). and mountain pride penstemon (Penstemon newberryi), are all “pretty in pink” right now. The trail around Convict Lake had tons of beautiful serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis) in full bloom and in lower Lee Vining Canyon mountain mule ears (Wyethia mollis), Nuttall’s linanthus (Linanthus nuttallii) and wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) were in various stages of flowering. Continuing along Highway 395 south of Lee Vining, look for Sierra sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum ssp. nevadense) and silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus) lining the road.

If you have enjoyed the Hotline reports this season, give a big thanks to the Theodore Payne Foundation for sponsoring this great resource for wildflower viewers and amateur botanists. Visit Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley and explore their garden of native delights. Visit the sales nursery too because it is hard to resist taking one of these lovely plants home with you.

That’s a wrap for the 2013 wildflower season. Check the TPF website in the early spring 2014 for new reports.


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