Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 4, 2018

Southern California Wildflower Summary 5/4/18

Theodore Payne  has a new weekly report. To see photos go to

The most recent beauty to make an appearance at Pinnacles National Park is a perennial bulb plant called pretty face (Triteleia lugens). Another recent beauty contestant is elegant clarkia (Clarkia unquiculata). They join the parade of lovely flowers—Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), Johnny jump-up (Viola pedunculata), Douglas wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), California hedge nettle (Stachys bullata), Bajada lupine (Lupinus concinnus), Parry’s larkspur(Delphinium parryi), wind poppy (Papaver heterophyllum), woodland star (Lithophragma affine), and yellow pncushion (Chaenactis glabriuscula var.lanosa). One flower that you definitely need to see is the bitter root (Lewisia rediviva). It is a tiny plant with a flower that looks like it is just sitting on the ground, so keep a watchful eye for it. Perennials decorating the landscape are silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons var albifrons), sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), paintbrush (Castilleja affinis ssp. affinis), whisker bush (Leptossiphon ciliatus), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum cofertifolium) and buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus var. cuneatus) California dandelion (Agerosis heterophylla), Douglas’ microseris (Microseris douglasii), slender flower gilia (Gilia tenuiflora ssp. tenuiflora), and variable linanthus (Leptosiphon parviflorus).

The foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Tulare County are bursting with flowers. Expect to see an abundance of poppies (Eschscholzia californica), lupine (Lupinus spp.), clarkia (Clarkia spp.) and many, many others. Reportedly, it’sgorgeous!


In the Santa Monica Mountains Westlake Village area, Triunfo Creek Park is at peak bloom now, but not for long with the predicted heat. Along the Pentachaeta Trail are Catalina Mariposa lily (Calochortus cataline), Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria), silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), globe iily (Calochortus albus), fiesta flower (Pholistoma auritum), speckled clarkia (Clarkia cylindrica), yellow pincushion (Chaenactis glabriuscula), Bigelow coreopsis (Leptosyne biglovii), and checkerbloom (Sidalcea sp.).

Don’t forget In another part of the Santa Monica Mountains, there are two trails in Topanga State Park that we highlighted last week— the Musch Trail and the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail. The landscape mostly alternates between woodlands and grasslands with a little chaparral thrown in. The grasslands has a nice display Catalina mariposa lilies (Calochortus catalinae). Mixed in with them are blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), owl’s clover (Castilleja sp.), buttercups (Rannunculus californica) and some golden star lilies (Bloomeria crocea). The hike has a good number of other spring flowers; purple nightshade (Solanum sp.), canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides), sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), fiesta flower (Pholistoma aurium), chia (Salvia columbariae), yellow pincushion (Chaenactis glabriscula), owl’s clover (Castillejasp.) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), Just be aware of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), which is plentiful!

Some plants at Placerita Canyon Nature Center will lose their bloom quickly when temperatures rise significantly, so take a stroll along the trails soon to see the oaks’ (Quercus agrifolia and Q. berberbidifolia) long catkins of male flowers, plus blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), sun cups (Camissoniopsis spp.), common mullia (Muilla maritima) and popcorn flowers (Cryptantha spp.andPlagiobothrys spp.) blooming for a while yet. New flowering shrubs and annuals along the trails now include elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), black sage (Salvia mellifera), wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis), purple nightshade (Solanum sp.), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), deerweed (Acmispon glaber), sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) and holly leaf cherry (Prunus illicifolia). Annuals include common phacelia (Phacelia distans), yellow pincushion (Chaenactis glabriuscula) and perezia (Aucortia microcephala), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and morning glory (Castegia macrocarpa). If you are on the trails in the late afternoon to twilight, look for the wispy white blossoms of the soap root plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) on long stalks arising above dark green undulating leaves. Interesting plant!

Many of the annuals are beginning to dry up, however there is still a nice variety of wildflowers to come and see at Hungry Valley SVRA. Some of the best wildflowers are in the grasslands along Stipa Trail between Powerline and Condor. There are plenty of poppies (Eschscholzia californica) that are ready to bloom near Edison Campground and Powerline junction. The yellow along the roads is goldenbush (Ericameria sp.), and a nice contrast to the purple sage (Salvia dorrii) along the S curves at full bloom now. There is a nice patch of scarlet buglers (Penstemon centranthifolius) at the Smith Fork Campground entrance just waiting to be seen and photographed! Within the next few weeks there should be plenty of beautiful yucca to enjoy in the flat area between Aliklik and Lane Ranch Campgrounds. The yucca flats area also has a variety of annuals still. The wildflower season may be short while so now is the time to visit. Wildflower loops are two-wheel drive dirt roads, but you will need high clearance. Take advantage of turnouts, and be alert for OHVs on the narrow roads. Watch for rattlesnakes. All plants (and animals) are protected at Hungry Valley, so be respectful of our flora and fauna. Download the wildflower map from our website.

Displays of goldfields (Lasthenia sp.) with scattered poppies (Eschscholzia californica) can still be found, but are fading at the Antelope Valley California State Poppy Reserve. The best sighting of these fading beauties are along the Poppy Trail North Loop and the Tehachapi Vista Point. But along the Lightingbolt Trail, you will see fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.), grape soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus), California four o’clock (Mirabilis laevis), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), and Acton encelia (Encelia actoni). It’s the areasaround the Preserve that are popping now—the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland, Godde Hill, Bouquet and Spunky Canyon Roads and Munz Ranch Road. Find sage (Salvia dorrii), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), desert comet (Mentzelia sp.), goldenbush (Ericameria sp.), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), coreopsis (Leptosyne sp.), whispering bells (Emmenanthe pendulaflora), bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), elderberry (Sambucus nigrassp. caerulea) and of course California poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

Head north on Highway 395 to visit the high desert landscape of the eastern Sierra’s Short, Grapevine, and Nine-mile canyons. Flowers and Joshua Tree covered canyon slopes display coreopsis (Leptosyne sp.), grape soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), goldfields (Lasthenia sp.), Fremont’s phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), and birds-eye gilia (Gilia tricolor), Mojave sand verbena (Abronia pogonantha), white tidy-tips (Layia glandulosa), chia (Salvia columbariae), Pacific blazing star (Mentzelia obscura), desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), brown-eyed primrose (Camissonia claviformis), various cryptantha (Cryptantha sp.), devil’s lettuce (Amsinckia tessellata), Kern sun-cups (Camissonia kernensis), desert calico (Loeseliastrum matthewsii), beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), Wallace’s woolly daisies(Eriophyllum wallacei), purple mat (Nama demissum), and strigose lotus (Lotus strigosus). Further north on 395 is Mojave Fossil Falls Scenic Area. Species there that are absolutely stunning against the black volcanic rock landscape are Mojave aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia) and thistle sage (Salvia carduacea). Make sure to look for the holy dandelion (Glytopleura setulosa)!

Lytle Creek in the Cajon Pass area is looking nice with great color where the Bluecut fire went through off of Sheep Canyon Road and Sheep Canyon Truck Trail. Check out these fire-followers— wide throated yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus brevipes), Canterbury bells (Phacelia minor), hairy lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus), California mustard (Caulanthus lasiophyllus), whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), forget- me-nots and popcorn flowers (Cryptantha spp. and Plagiobothrys spp.), small- flowered stickleaf (Mentzelia micrantha), and many others.

Still in the high desert, visit Joshua Tree National Park, and around Barker’s Dam find Popcorn flowers (Cryptantha spp. and Plagiobothrys spp.), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), trailing windmills (Allionia sp.), desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus sp.) and many other colorful jewels.It’s been dry this year in Joshua Tree, so don’t expect the ground to be covered with flowers, but there are some beauties to enjoy.

Nearby in Yucca Valley, drive Pipes Canyon Road around the scenic enclave of Pioneertown. Hike nearby Pipes Canyon or just enjoy the loop drive through Pinyon Juniper Woodland with colorful shrubs and flowers against a striking mountain and mesa landscape. Look for vivid red paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), bright yellow goldenbush (Ericameria sp.), magenta beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), orange desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), deep blue Indigo bush (Psorothamnus sp.) and purple sage (Salvia dorrii), all in full bloom now.

In the San Jacinto Mountains, through Garner Valley, the dirt road paralleling SR74 from the Fobes Ranch Road to the Kenworthy Area is a nice walk. There are a few nice patches of goldfields (Lasthenia sp.) in a few spots, and goldfields will pretty much line the entire route. The area is pretty dry, with mostly very sparse annual plants in bloom including fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.) and baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii). The bitter root (Lewisia rediviva) spied along the trail were loaded with buds, so they will bloom this year. Other little annuals you will find (but not in great numbers) along the trail are tidy tips (Layia platyglossa) coastal gilia (Gilia diegensis), desert sand verbena (Abronia villosavar. aurita), and fleabane (Erigeron divergens).

Pretty perennials along the Brightwater Trail in Huntington Beach and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve include California sunflower (Encelia californica), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) and black sage (Salvia mellifera). Dune evening primrose (Oenothera elata), blue-eye grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.) are in sunny open locations near the pathways too. Two cactus species you would ordinarily take a wide berth around on your walk are flowering and very pretty—the coast cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia littoralis). Look for the pretty white pearl flowers of ladies’tobacco (everlasting) (Pseudognaphlium californicum) brightening up trails aswell. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for the excellent bird watching here too!

Some really splendid trees are now flowering at The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), California buckeye (Aesculus californica) and the lush Catalina cherry (Prunus illicifolia ssp.lyonyii) The understory shrub species are looking handsome too, and include white sage (Salvia apiana), black sage (Salvia mellifera), brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), sticky and red monkeyflowers (Mimulus auranticus and M. punicieus), Island mallow (Lavetera assurgentiflora) and desert mallow (Sphaeralcea abigua). There are colorful California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), showy penstemon (Penstemon spectablis) and tansy-leaved phacelia (Phacelia tantacetifolia) throughout the garden for you to enjoy anywhere you walk.

The California Butterfly Pavilion is now open at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, and there are many butterfly host and nectar plants blooming inside and outside the Butterfly Pavilion for you (and the butterflies) to enjoy. Good time to see what you may want to plant in your own garden at home to attract butterflies. Favorite perennials include fragrant pitcher sage (Lepechinia fragrans), bush lupine (Lupinus sp.), fleabane (Erigeron sp.), deerweed (Acmispon glaber), brittlebush (Encelia californica and E. farinosa), verbena (Verbena lilacina and V. gooddingia), sages (Salvia spp.) pipevine (Aristolochia californica) and of course buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). Annuals loved by butterflies are hedge nettle (Stachys bullata), annual lupines (Lupinus spp.), phacelias (Phacelia spp.) and globe gilia (Gilia capitatum). Another butterfly favorite is buckeye tree (Aesculus californica) with its long spikes of blossoms just starting to cover the trees in the Garden. Walk off the Mesa and into the Plant Communities section of the Garden and find a colorful scene of various penstemon species in flower. There is the heavy blooming of showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis) with every shade of purple, pink, and white, while other species of Penstemon are blooming red, pink, and purple. A few of the stands ofthe large “fried egg” or Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri) are beginning to flower. These favorites also will be blooming for months to come: desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii and D, rigida), woolly blue-curls (Trichostema lanatum) and palo verde (Parkinsonia florida).

A truly imaginative wildflower display is in full bloom now at the Southern California Montane Botanic Garden in Oak Glen Preserve at the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. It is called The Artist’s Palette Garden. Here’s howthe Garden was created. They took an actual photograph of the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet’s paint palette, digitally draped the photo over an aerial photograph of the six-acre hillside, separated the botanist’s palette of 24 native wildflowers by color and, using the tree islands in the Garden for reference, painted lines on the ground and sowed the seeds by color patches to re-create Monet’s paint palette on six acres with wildflowers! It is a must-see display and a special venue for this Wildlands Conservancy Preserve.

The Habitat Gardens at Elizabeth Learning Center continue to show off their Spring beauty! Most of their wildflowers can be viewed from the sidewalk on Elizabeth Street in front of the campus. The Desert Garden wows with brown- eyed primrose (Chylismia claviformis ssp. claviformis), prickly poppy (Argemone munita), wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis var. retrorsa), prince’s plume (Stanleya pinnata), beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), pale sun-cup (Camissoniopsis pallida), cream cups (Platystemon californicus), creosote bush (Larrea tridenata), catsclaw (Senegalia greggii), desert lavender (Condea emoryi), fish hook cactus (Mammillaria dioica), 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). The Vernal Pool Garden has Douglas’ meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii), Otay Mesa mint (Pogogyne nudiuscula), San Diego mesa mint (Pogogyne abramsii), thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia), Hoover’s calicoflower (Downingia bella), clustered tarweed (Deinandra fasciculata), Lindley’s blazing star (Mentzelia lindleyi), California sage (Salvia californica), globe gilia (Gilia capitata), truncate-leafed lupine (Lupinus truncates), tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), chia (Salvia columbariae), and goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata). Additional species in the Chaparral Garden include chaparral honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. denudata), Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), woolly Indian paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), black sage (Salvia mellifera), pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), goldeneye (Viguiera laciniata), Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens), Channel Island tree poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), and blue paloverde (Parkinsonia florida). Elizabeth Learning Center is located off Elizabeth Street between Atlantic and Wilcox Avenues in Cudahy.

That’s it for this week. Look for our next report on Friday, May 11th and check back each week for the most up to date information on southern and central California wildflowers.


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