Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 16, 2018

Southern California Wildflower Reports 3/16/18

Theodore Payne has published its weekly report for 3/16/18. Highlights below. See photos at

Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge is showing lots of spring color starting with the fabulous, fragrant lilac verbena (Verbena cultivars). Woolly-blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), the large, golden flowers of flannel bush (Fremontodendron cultivars), and the apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) are just beginning their spring parade of color as well. The subtle beauty and fragrance of Island currant (Ribes viburnifolium) scents the air around the Redwood rest area. Beware of the fluffy pink flowered fairy dusters (Eriophylla spp.). One is tempted to touch them, but nasty thorns lie beneath!. Look, but don’t touch! Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont is bursting blue with a multitude of ceanothus.

Enjoy the lovely combination of sea breezes, salt air and fragrant blooms at the The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. The nature center has many different habitat areas, each showing off their own collection of natives. Nevin’s barberry (Berberis nevinii) anchors the Coastal Sage Scrub area with it’s clusters of yellow flowers loved by hummingbirds. The Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is an elegant pink lady in the shady Oak Woodland, and the Island mallow (Lavatera assurgentiflora) has large purple flowers dancing on its outstretched branches. Sugarbush (Rhus ovata) in the Chaparral Garden is displaying it’s tiny clusters of sticky pink flowers bursting forth from rain-washed foliage. The encelia sisters, California encelia (Encelia californica), and desert encelia (Encelia farinosa) show off their bright yellow sunflowers along with patches of blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) on the nature center’s pathways.

Spring has been slow to emerge at Placerita Canyon, but along the Ecology Trail, the perennials are heralding the coming of annual wildflowers. The bright red fuchsia flowering gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) is in bloom in the Hummingbird Garden where the tiny jeweled birds are feasting on the sweet nectar. Its botanical cousin, the chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum), is covered with flowers in various shades of pink. The always-reliable white flowers of the wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpa) are abundant along the trail as the vine climbs over and under the trees and shrubs. The California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) plants are flush with fresh foliage and the rose-colored buds of sugar bush (Rhus ovata) are awaiting the warmer weather of late spring to bloosom. Hoary-leaf ceanothus (Rhamnus crassifolius) is cloaked in tiny creamy white flowers and fill the air with the sweet, familiar scent of ceanothus. The shy California peony (Paeonia californica) hiding among protective shrubs, will be opening its burgundy flowers very soon.

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.

Elizabeth Learning Center in the city of Cudahy has flowers blooming in all three of its Habitat Gardens. The Desert Garden includes showy perennials like catsclaw (Senegalia greggii), desert lavender (Condea emoryi), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), and chuparosa (Justicia californica), as well as some pretty annuals, Spanish needle (Palafoxia arida), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), blue bells (Phacelia campanularia), bird’s eye gilia (Gilia tricolor) and Coulter’s lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus). Blooming in the rain refreshed Vernal Pool Garden is Menzies’ fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), chia (Salvia columbariae), woolly marbles (Psilocarphus brevissimus), vernal popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys undulatus), and a beautiful blanket of goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata). 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.

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