Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 9, 2018

Southern California Wildflower Reports 3/9/18

Theodore Payne just published their second wildflower report of the season.  See full post and flowers at

Not the “March Miracle” we hoped for, but still it’s moisture falling from the sky. Our hope is that the high elevations in mountain foothills will respond in kind to the late season rain/snow and warmer temperatures. Remember that the hunt is often more fun than the find!

At Pinnacles National Park in our Coast Ranges, some perennial natives are still showy. The big berry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca) is fading in bloom, but the large berries are as impressive to see as the clusters of flowers. Hillside gooseberry (Ribes californicum) is also fruiting instead of flowering, something the berry-eating bird population has been anticipating! The bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) is still in good bloom, as is the woolly paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa). The blue colors you see belong to the baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila memziesii var. menziesii) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). You may also see some pockets of shooting stars (Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. patulum) along the high peak trails.

In our Southern desert parks like Anza Borrego, south portion of Joshua Tree and areas in the Coachella Valley, it may be a case of too little rain, too late. Some good moisture in the coming weeks may bring on the bloom in the High Desert regions— Death Valley, the Mojave Preserve and environs. Fingers crossed, everyone.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park has a dry desert floor, with only a few scattered perennials like the desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), desert encelia (Encelia farinosa) flowering sparsely. If you are willing to hike and scramble up some of the canyon washes to around 3000 ft., you may get a glimpse of some flowers benefitting from moisture around boulders and rocks; but don’t go with high expectations of great (or any!) blooms.

News from the Carrizo Plain National Monument is that the received about 0.5 inches of rain with more in the forecast for this weekend. Let’s hope some magic happens in the next few weeks!

At the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve SRA, poppy plants (Eschscholzia californica) are still small with a few buds, but the recent rain will give them a better chance of surviving to flower. Currently, the perennial grape soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus) is in bloom at the top of Tehachapi Vista Point trail. Although it won’t be a “super bloom” this year, it is definitely looking better for the coming weeks.

Placerita Nature Center visitors are enjoying a few of the first-of-season flowers along their Ecology trail. Look for gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) and currant (Ribes malvaceum). They won’t be around for too long. Also find hoary-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) in full bloom. Fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.), forget-me-nots (Cryptantha spp.) black sage (Salvia mellifera), wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpa), California Peony (Paenoia californica) and Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa) are also flowering now.


To satisfy your wildflower fix, you probably want to visit our popular Southern California botanical gardens: Descanso Gardens, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, South Coast Botanic Garden, and the Theodore Payne Foundation! Descanso has a Native Plant and Oak Woodland area. South Coast has natives throughout the gardens but can be seen specifically in the Mediterranean Garden and in the El Rincon Garden. I know that Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont has some seasonal beauties along their trails. I have been told that bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), California encelia (Encelia californica), sugarbush (Rhus ovata), Santa Catalina Island currant (Ribes virburnifolium) and other currants and gooseberries ( Ribes spp.) are flowering along with ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), blue- eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) plus a few manzanita (Arctosytaphylos spp.). Of course you will see (and buy!) plenty of flowers at the Theodore Payne Foundation annual plant sale in a couple of weeks. (See more info below.)

Still too cool to go to the beach, but perfect weather to enjoy The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. The nature center is welcoming you with some colorful blooms. Some along the trails this week include: Nevin’s barberry (Berberis nevinii), fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), California encelia (Encelia californica), fuchsia flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum), and lovely patches of blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum).

At the Elizabeth Learning Center, the Habitat Gardens are re-wilding the city of Cudahy with their chaparral, desert, and vernal pool ecosystems; and despite the dry winter many species are beginning to flower! Desert species include catsclaw (Senegalia greggii), desert lavender (Condea emoryi), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), Spanish needle (Palafoxia arida), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), chuparosa (Justicia californica), blue bells (Phacelia campanularia), bird’s eye gilia (Gilia tricolor) and Coulter’s lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus). Their vernal pool area contains Menzies’ fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), wart stemmed ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus), sawtooth goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), chia (Salvia columbariae), boxthorn (Lycium californicum), woolly marbles (Psilocarphus brevissimus), and vernal popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys undulatus).Some additional species in the chaparral garden include woolly indian paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), black sage (Salvia mellifera), pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus), torhleaf goldeneye (Viguiera laciniata), sugar bush (Rhus ovata), Santa Cruz island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens), Channel Island tree poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), and Orcutt’s hazardia (Hazardia orcuttii).Elizabeth Learning Center is located off Elizabeth Street between Atlantic and Wilcox Avenues in Cudahy. Most gardens can be seen from the sidewalk in front of the school without having to check in at the Main Office.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: