Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 26, 2017

Figueroa Mountain Wildflowers 4/26/17

submitted by Helen Tarbet Recreation Technician Los Padres National Forest

Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update April 26, 2017

Many of the flowers are dwindling and most are being covered or overtaken by the tall grasses, yet the bush lupine are continuing to put on quite a show throughout the mountain. The bush poppies and sticky leaf monkey flowers are proudly joining the act in a number of areas, creating a palette of the different hues of purples, yellows and pale oranges. Some of the late season varieties are starting to bloom, yet others are having trouble competing with the grasses. There is still time to come out and see the show, but do it soon…..even the green on the hillsides is starting to turn brown and we are rapidly starting to see a summer pattern.

A friendly reminder before we begin. When you stop to look and take pictures of all the beauties, please make sure that you park on the shoulder of the road and not on the road itself. If there isn’t a place to stop, find a turn-out and walk back to the area. Please do not block the road at any time as this will be enforced.

Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, few flowers are in bloom anymore. One can still see some Chinese houses, fiddlenecks, hummingbird sage, golden yarrow and blow wives but are rapidly retiring for the season.

As you continue up the hill, a few California poppies continue to bloom along the road, along with some mustard. If you look to your left at Grass Mountain, you will notice that the lush green grass of two weeks ago is now brown.

Along the rock wall on your right, look for golden yarrow, poppies, Chinese houses, purple wild onion, chalk Dudley and clematis. As you continue up the hill, you will find blow wives, mustard, golden yarrow and buckwheat, a handful of mariposa lilies, wallflowers, blue-eyed grass, morning glories and a bush lupine.

Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), is pretty much done for the season.

As you pass the station, the bush lupine continues to shine.

In the field to the right, before Tunnell Ranch Road, beautiful orange wall flowers are still plentiful continue to dance for you every time the wind blows. Golden yarrow, wild onions and clover can still be seen here. As you continue on to the next location, look for mustard and a Mexican elderberry in bloom.

About a half mile further, on the infamous poppy hillside, the poppies and lupine are no more, with the exception of a few lingering ones. The golden top grass continues to consume this hillside. In fact, while witches hair (California dodder) normally takes over once fatigue sets in for the poppies and lupine, this year the golden top grass had a different agenda. Some caterpillar phacelia tried to bloom in this areas as well, but the grass wouldn’t hear of it. While the poppies and lupine couldn’t quite make it, the bush lupine continues to impress us. These stunning beauties are everywhere around this area and enchant us with their delightful aroma. Their beauty is radiating along the road and filling the hillsides with their vibrant purple hues. There are even more now than there were two weeks ago. This is certainly a photo opportunity, so bring your camera along! As you continue past the closed Lookout Road, look for California poppies, sky lupine, blue

dicks and globe gilias. Because there is little to no grass in this area, the poppies continue to bloom, the globe gilias are still showing off and the sky lupine are gorgeous in the few carpeted patches under the trees to your left.

Continuing on Figueroa Mountain Road to the Davy Brown trailhead, common phacelias, poppies, bush lupine, chia, blue dicks and purple nightshade are still in bloom, but nowhere near as many.

The fields beyond the Davy Brown Trailhead, are now pretty bare. There are a couple of fields on the right that are quite impressive with a variety of flowers. However, while the yellow flowers in the fields are visible as you drive by, if you stop at these areas and explore a bit, you will find tidy tips, soap root, goldfields, miniature lupine, death camas, wild onions and blue-eyed grass.

As you start going up Ranger Peak, fiddleneck and some poppies can be seen. There are still few baby blue eyes along the shaded rocky hillsides, but they are quickly going to sleep until next year.

From Ranger Peak to Cachuma Saddle, the bush varieties of flowers are becoming more and more impressive. The bush lupine along this stretch is still quite striking. While some of the bushes have seeded, surprisingly others continue to bloom. The bush poppies are blooming strong and are being joined by sticky leaf monkey flowers. Mexican elderberry is another that is more and more vibrant every day and being seen pretty much everywhere on this side of Figueroa Mountain. Also look for golden yarrow, poppies, fiddleneck, wall flowers, Indian paintbrush, scarlet buglers, clematis, purple nightshade and black sage as you continue along this area.

Sunset Valley, as with Ranger Peak, continues to shine. As you turn left on Sunset Valley, look for fillaree, deer vetch, goldfields, yellow poppies, popcorn flower, purple nightshade, coreopsis, wild cucumber, milk thistle, Chinese houses and clematis. As you start going down the hill towards Davy Brown, the bush poppies continue to paint the hilltops in yellow, along with sticky leaf monkey flowers which are starting to bloom in this area as well. Along this stretch, you will find chia, prickly phlox, wild cucumber, Mexican elderberry, morning glories, milk thistle, clematis, globe gilias and scarlet buglers. From the Davy Brown Campground to NIRA Campground, look for more yellow poppies, chia, baby blue eyes, lovely Nuttles Larkspur, sky lupine, buttercups, coreopsis, morning glories, Chinese houses, bush poppies, prickly phlox, elegant clarkia, wine cup clarkia and the beginning of sticky leaf monkey flowers. While these varieties are currently present, some are going away very rapidly.

As you return from Sunset Valley and continue onto Happy Canyon Road, look for purple nightshade and Colter lupine, poppies, vetch and globe gilias, Nuttles and Parish larkspur, purple nightshade, black sage, golden yarrow, sticky leaf monkey flowers, bush poppies and clematis as it changes into its pompom seed form. On some of the rocky walls, you will also see whimsical fairy lanterns, Indian paintbrush and common hedge nettles. From the shooting area down to the bottom of the mountain, also look for black sage, bush poppies, vetch, fiddleneck, a few punch bowl clarkias and wine cup clarkias.



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