Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 3, 2014

Santa Monica Mountains Wildflower Updates 5/3/14

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has the following new wildflower reports:

Many people have submitted flower reports in the last week, no doubt a consequence of the annuals finally putting in an appearance. This is more or less on cue if you consider the only big rain event we had this year was about two months ago. The interesting thing in this in this for me is that we are seeing, here in May, flowers which usually bloom much earlier in the season. It seem strange to see some of the early lupines blooming side by side with the Clarkias! The other interesting thing is that there have been a few unusual things showing up. For example, the little Seaside Calandrinia is appearing in quantity this year. After hunting for that plant for years in the end only place I was able to get pictures for the web site was down in San Diego. It’s still a drought year and both the variety and quantity of flowers is low, and the plants themselves are frequently stressed and small. I saw a California poppy only one inch tall with one single tiny flower at the top of its single stem.

The rain a couple of months ago eased the drought a bit but it is probably too late now to hope we will get enough rain to end it. Only a week after that March rain the winds were picking up huge clouds of dust from the dirt parking lot here, something you would never see in a more typical March. The ground was dry as a bone and most of that rain disappeared into that vacuum literally without a trace. Similarly, most of the creeks never ran this year, another sign that a mere 6″ of rain does end a severe drought. The saddest thing is seeing how many large old trees have died. If we have to cut down many more trees I’m afraid the campground here at CXR is going to look pretty barren by the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed and let me know what you see.  ‑ ed.

Click read more below to see recent reports.

Malibu Creek State    Park Phantom Trail    4/27/14

We hiked the Phantom Trail today and I am happy to report that there are many species of flowers blooming now. We saw Eucrypta, Popcorn Flower, Wishbone Bush, Indian Paintbrush, Mariposa Lily, Purple Nightshade, Sticky Phacelia, Caterpillar Phacelia , Fernleaf Phacelia , Fiesta Flower, Fiddleheads, White Morning Glory, Red Maids, Common Vervain, and California Poppies. There are flowers starting on the first quarter mile of the trail, and another mile will bring you to some CA poppies. It you turn and walk back up the hill from here, there are even more poppies.

Serrania Park    4/27/14

While trail running Serrania Park south to dirt Mulholland (heading east), I spotted an array of tansy leafed phacelia, blue nightshade, Indian paintbrush, more Catalina mariposas, elderberries, the ubiquitous mustard, succulent lupine, purple sage, black sage and Mimulus aurantiacus.

Topanga State Park     Backbone Trail     4/26/14

Saturday’s hike was the eighth and last leg of the 2014 National Park Service Backbone Trail Hike. We have been hiking west to east covering two segments per month. This segment took us from Trippet Ranch to Will Rogers State Historic Park.

The first few miles visit several different plant communities that tend to be pretty damp. Then it is ridge top after ridge top of mostly chamise chaparral. We had our highest count of species in bloom, 50. In keeping with the abnormal year some were out of season, many just opening their first buds, while others were shutting down. The oak trees, coast and interior live, were accompanied by the hollyleaf red berry, hollyleaf cherry, elderberry, mountain mahogany, toyon, sugar bush, green bark and big pod ceanothus. Bush poppy, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, morning glory, prickly phlox, eucrypta, popcorn, deer weed, 2 nightshades, 3 lupines, 4 everlastings accented the just emerging virgins bower, common vervain, fiesta flower, golden yarrow, wishbone, heart-leaved penstemon, wooly blue curls, California buckwheat, and black sage. Some of the surprises came in the form of Chaparral pea, twining snap dragon, large-flowered lotus, mustard evening primrose, and more than a splash of Catalina mariposa, blue dicks, owl’s clover, butter cups blue-eyed grass, and fiddleneck. High heat is forecast so future display is uncertain.

Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons     4/26/14

There is a wonderful spot where lots of Lupines are blooming In the eastern part of Cheeseboro canyon. This is the part of Cheeseboro that can be accessed from Las Virgenes, north of the 101. Starting with the Zev Yaroslavsky Trailhead, there are four trailheads on Las Virgenes. The one that I used is the second one, on Las Virgenes just south of Thousand Oaks Blvd. To get there; Go north of the 101 Frwy to Thousand Oaks Blvd and make a U-turn. Drive to the trailhead next to the old ranch house and park. Hike the trail and immediately take the left fork. About a quarter of a mile to the flowers. Lupines pic

Zuma/Trancas Canyons Zuma Loop Trail     4/25/14

This is the first hike I’ve taken this season that has any real payoff in flowers. Leaving the parking lot there are blooming elderberries, bush sunflower and ground hugging lupines. Taking the trail to the left, up the hill we saw blooming vervain, sugar bush and morning glory. Turning right to walk along the side of the canyon there were ashy buckwheat, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, lots and lots of Indian paintbrush, purple sage, purple nightshade, white hedge nettle, blue dicks, southern tauschia, sweet pea, blue eyed grass and a dozen or so Catalina mariposas. Descending back to the creek bed there were mountain mahogany, patches of brilliant wishbone flower and several star lilies. Continuing along the creek bed, which continues to be completely dry, there was wild cucumber, scarlet bugler, popcorn flower, California everlasting and virgin’s bower in bloom.

Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve     Las Virgenes to Cheeseboro Connector Trail     4/24/14

We hiked the Las Virgenes to Cheeseboro Connector Trail from the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail to the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Trail. This trail is rather remote unless you have a mountain bike. I was pleasantly surprised by how many annuals we saw in bloom, although to be honest, I would still rank this as a poor showing in a non-drought year. Altogether we ran into about forty different species in bloom, but almost all were present in only small quantities. The one real exception was the yerba santa which was in places quite dense and flowering profusely. It was also interesting to see the unusual mix of plants in bloom. We had flowers I normally associate with very early in the season blooming alongside those I think of as late season flowers (like the clarkias — one of which is actually called “Farewell to Spring.”) I assume the drought has many of them confused, but then, just the very low quantity of flowers points out how unusual this drought year is. A partial list of the flowers we encountered included small evening primrose, hairy leaved ceanothus, hoary leaved ceanothus, popcorn flower, blue dicks, yerba santa, succulent lupine, collar lupine, stinging lupine, silver puffs, eucrypta, strigose lotus, prickly phlox, black sage, wild cucumber (now essentially just in fruit), quite a few wishbone bush, chia, bush monkey flower, mustard evening primrose, one single woolly blue curls, lace pod, morning glory, purple nightshade, caterpillar phacelia, two-tone everlasting, bush poppy, a scattering of elderberry, white snap dragon, yellow pincushion, and the willow herb clarkia.

See older reports at:  What’s Blooming.



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