Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 30, 2018

Southern California Wildflower Reports 3/30/18

Theodore Payne has published its weekly report for 3/30/18. Highlights below. See photos at

FINALLY! A crop of wildflowers have been seen popping up in a variety of sites around Southern California, and in very accessible areas, too, if you can take a short holiday escape during spring break. Let’s start along the coastal regions.

A wonderful wildflower outing is to be had if you check out the Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach off of 4th Street and Park Ave. Look for wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), deerweed (Acmispon glaber), arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), California bush sunflower (Encelia californica), giant coreopsis (Leptosyne sp.), Santa Barbara milkvetch (Astragalus trichopodus), Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), California four o’clock (Mirabilis laevis var.crassifolia) and golden bush (Isocoma sp.). Enjoy walking the new paths around the entire lagoon and marvel at the habitat restoration of this important wetland area!

Mostly perennials and a few annual species of flowers can be seen along the Brightwater Trail in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and specifically aroundthe ‘pocket’ in Huntington Beach for those who know the reserve. Look for California four o’clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia), bush sunflower (Encelia californica) and bladderpod (Peritoma arborea). Blue-eye grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.) are in sunny open areas along the trails too. By the way, this is a great birding location, so bring the binoculars as well as a wildflower guide.

Click read more to see many more reports

While enjoying fresh ocean breezes and sunshine, there are many showy natives to enjoy along the trails at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. Among them are the Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) with pink-red flowers and bright green foliage. The lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia) makes a handsome partner to that lady in pink. From our Channel Islands hail Island snapdragon (Gambelia [Galvezia] speciosa), San Clemente Island mallow (Malacothamnus clementinus) and Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii). California bush sunflower (Encelia californica), desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), red monkeyflower (Diplacus puniceus [Mimulus aurantiacus var. puniceus}), along with the California flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), color the trails with sunny yellows, oranges, and reds.

Down along the San Diego coast, visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for a great day-outing. If you haven’t been to Torrey Pines lately, you will find thatmany of the trails are now refurbished and ADA compliant, and provide beautiful views of our Pacific coastline. This time of year, look for blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), star-lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii), and wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum). San Diego sea dahlia (Leptosyne maritima), and bush sunflower (Encelia californica) provide a lot of cheery yellow color along with Southern goldfields (Lasthenia coronaria), The vine species like wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus) and San Diego sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus var. alefeldii) twine up the branches of the shrubs, so they can get a sunny spot and your attention. Classic beauties blooming now include miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), coastal sand verbena (Abronia maritima), California peony (Paeonia californica), Cleveland shooting star (Primula clevelandii ssp. clevelandii), and woolly-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus tomentosus).

Some flowers have been spotted at Will Rogers State Historic Park in the Santa Monica Mountains. On the Inspiration Point Loop Trail, the California brittle brush or bush sunflower (Encelia californica) is blooming nicely. From the parking lot just beyond the park gate (bring money for parking), the trail heads up the mountain to the left of the tennis courts west of the ranch house and ranger office. The trails were fairly muddy in some areas on the day after heavy rain, but otherwise easily accessible. After a week of dry weather, trails are lovely and there will be many, many more flowers bursting out for picture-taking hikers. I challenge you to be the first to post photos of them!

Caspers Wilderness Park in Orange County is experiencing some flowering of hardy natives along the trails after the spring rains. The 4.2 mile loop trail starting up the newly routed and renovated Dick Loskorn trail, north on West Ridge trail, down Starr Rise, and returning via Bell Canyon, yielded the following sightings: chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), Canterburry bells (Phacelia minor),California four o’clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia), slender-pod jewel-flower (Caulanthus heterophyllus), Johnny jump-ups (Viola pedunculata) and shooting- star (Primula clevelandii) on a slope area next to Starr Rise. Only one Catalina mariposa lily (Calochortus catalinae) was seen on Dick Loskorn where there were hundreds last year. Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia) is in bloom everywhere and toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is still in berry on some trees. Atthe horse corral area, the entire interior corral is carpeted in a popcorn flower (Cryptantha sp.), and there is a nice display of golden fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.) across from the corral.

Now to our desert parks, always beautiful, no matter the wildflower status!

As of late March in Death Valley National Park, wildflowers have been sparse.The best blooming areas are small strips of flowers along the paved roads where water runoff and water retention is best. Highway 190 between Furnace Creek and North Highway has had some blooming, but recent strong winds damaged many of the flowers. Look for an occasional desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), little golden poppy (Eschscholzia minutiflora), notch-leaf phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) and desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata). They aresparse and small this year, so get out of the car and search!

From someone who stayed in the Wonderland of Rocks area in Joshua Tree National Park recently, the report is that most stuff is just starting to show. So it looks like maybe April, at least in the northern part of the park, will bloom modestly. For now, get excited about the budding yuccas (Yucca/Hesperoyuccaspp.), at least three different phacelias (Phacelia spp.), a couple of penstemon (Penstemon spp.) and along the roadside berms, desert trumpet (Eriogonuminflatum). In the washes, try to find an occasional Wallace’s woolly star(Eriophyllum wallaceii). There is even an early blooming Mojave mound cactus (Echinocereus mojavensis). Except for a few sheltered spots, the south end of the park will as always, have spectacular landscape scenes, but few annuals will be expected. Again, like in all desert regions, hiking to areas where soil retains moisture and where plants are sheltered from wind, will be the best places to spot flowering plants.

The back country of San Diego County is looking nice and green, maybe awaiting some flowers. Chaparral white thorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) and hoary-leaved ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) are blooming white and blue, and still Eastwood’s manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. glandulosa) is in full bloom.

Entering Anza Borrego Desert State Park from Julian along SR78 to Scissor’s Crossing there are few flowers to be seen! At higher elevations, there are some bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) along the grade to the desert floor. The ocotillos (Fouquieria splendens) are blooming in Anza Borrego—nice because they have had a miniscule of moisture—but not spectacular. Look for them on 78 west of Ocotillo Wells and throughout the park. Chuparosas (Justicia californica) have a few blooms and in places the creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) is blooming nicely and filling the air with their distinctive scent that tellsyou “welcome to the desert.” Similarly, there is a modest display from brittle bush (Encelia farinosa). A flowering desert trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum), was spotted and some patches of forget-me-not (Cryptantha sp.) fill a few of the spaces between other plants. North and Northeast of Borrego Springs, along the roads to Henderson Canyon, Rockhouse Canyon and Clark Dry Lake, there is not much blooming, but a beautiful drive as always! Though the flowers were sparse, the desert is never disappointing. The paucity of wildflowers just reminds us of how special it is when we get a superbloom!

Pinnacles National Park has many lovely things that usually bloom a little earlier but are making a show now. Look for Johnny jump-ups (Viola pedunculata) in the Oak Woodland areas of the Park. The lace parsnip (Lomatium dasycarpum ssp.dasycarpum), Fremont’s star lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) are showing up with baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus) and shooting stars (Primula clevelandii var. patulum). The buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus), with its white to lavender flowers, and silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons) scent the air with a lovely fragrance. Probably the best find will be the checker lily (Fritillaria affinis). Look for it along the Old Pinnacles Trail on shaded north-facing slopes.

Right now the Poppy Trail South Loop is the best trail to see a few scattered poppies (Eschscholzia californica) blooming at Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve SRA. There are scattered patches of pretty little goldfields (Lasthenia sp.) and the fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.) is unfurling its golden-orange flowers on most trails in the park. On the Tehachapi Vista Point, there are still only a handful of poppies blooming, but the silver foliage and fragrant flowers of grape soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus) distracts you from thinking about the poppies for a while..Forget-me-not flowers (Cryptantha sp.) dot the landscape of the Poppy Trail North Loop, and you will find really nice wild hyacinths (Dichelostemma capitatum) blooming on the Kitanemuk Vista Point trail. Poppy plants everywhere are still rather small.

Spend some time at Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and you will be treated to delightful sightings of natives in flower. The bright red fuchsia-flowering gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) is still in bloom along with sugar bush (Rhus ovata), hoary-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) and purple nightshade (Solanum sp.). The California peony (Paeonia californica) is just opening its handsome burgundy flowers. With many of the flowering natives still yet to come, Placerita will be a favorite visiting place for many months.

Even though Elizabeth Learning Center is closed for Spring Break, most of their blooms can be seen from the sidewalk on Elizabeth Street in front of the campus! Flowers are taking off in all three Habitat Gardens. The Desert Garden includes prickly poppy (Argemone munita), cream cups (Platystemon californicus), catsclaw (Senegalia greggii), desert lavender (Condea emoryi), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), Spanish needle (Palafoxia arida), cryptantha (Cryptantha sp.), spotted eucrypta (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), fish hook cactus (Mammillaria dioica), skeleton milkweed (Asclepias subulata), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), fiveneedle pricklyleaf (Thymophylla pentachaeta), chuparosa (Justicia californica), blue bells (Phacelia campanularia), bird’s eye gilia (Gilia tricolor) and Coulter’s lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus). Their Vernal Pool Garden contains Menzies’ fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), blue field gilia (Gilia capitata), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), wart-stemmed ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus), sawtooth goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), spinescrub (Adolphia californica), chia (Salvia columbariae), boxthorn (Lycium californicum), woolly marbles (Psilocarphus brevissimus), vernal popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys undulatus), orcutt’s quillwort (Isoetes orcuttii), California Orcutt’s grass (Orcuttia californica), and a beautiful blanket of goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata). Some additional species in the Chaparral Garden include woolly Indian paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), mesa horkelia (Horkelia cuneata puberula), black sage (Salvia mellifera), pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), 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.


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