Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 31, 2018

Figueroa Mountain Wildflowers May 31, 2018

submitted by Helen Tarbet Recreation Technician Los Padres National Forest

Figueroa Mountain Final Wildflower Update for May 31, 2018

Just as spring is rapidly leaving us, so are this year’s wildflowers. While there are still some lovely late season displays,they are not staying around long. If you want to catch a glimpse of these late blooming beauties, you should do it soon. This will be the last update for the season, as there will be little to report in the next couple of weeks.

Let’s hurry and see what Figueroa is finishing off the wildflower season with?

Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, not much is in bloom. Hummingbird sage, golden yarrow, punchbowl clarkia, deer vetch, blow wives and mustard will be about the only wildflowers that you will see in this area.

The canopy area is pretty bare, as well. The grass is tall and rapidly drying, but you can see black sage, deer vetch, mustard and punch bowl clarkia.


As you continue to climb the hill, look for jimson weed with its lovely large white flowers blooming along the road. California poppies can still be found on the rocky hillsides. Along the serpentine hillsides, look for poppies, golden yarrow, morning glories and the stunning yellow/orange flowers of the Dudleyas. The lupine is going to seed quickly and the wall flowers are rapidly giving up on getting asked to dance, as they lose their petals one by one. An occasional mariposa lily can still be spotted looking over the tall grass. What you will still see in abundance are golden yarrow, mustard and buckwheat. Other wildflowers to look for include wild red onions, dandelion flowers, lovey yellow butter lupine and Chinese houses in the shaded areas.

Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), has nothing to report, but across from there and going past the Figueroa Station, look for golden yarrow, buckwheat, a few charming yellow mariposa lilies, black sage and Mexican Elderberry.

The field before Tunnell Road is also looking bare, with only some golden yarrow and dwindling wall flowers.

About a half mile further, the famous poppy hillside has only a few poppies left to show. What you will find, however, is quite a bit of caterpillar phacelia. The bush lupine have past their prime, although they are still looking lovely as they turn to seed.

Continuing on this stretch to Ranger Peak, look for Mexican Elderberry, royal lupine, blow wives, some goldfields, dandelion flowers, seep spring monkey flowers, deer vetch, witch’s hair (California dodder), gorgeous red Indian paintbrush, a few fuchsia flowering gooseberries and a couple of Catalina mariposa lilies.

As you enter Ranger Peak, look to the open field on your left and see a stunning and rare white bush lupine between the typical purple ones. As you continue on Ranger Peak, you will find beautiful baby blue eyes peeping at you in the shady hillsides on the right. Along with the baby blue eyes, look for golden yarrow, common phacelias and fiddleneck.

Ranger Peak to Cachuma is looking lovely with different wildflowers. While most of the bush lupine and bush poppieshave gone to seed and preparing for next year’s show, yellow/orange sticky leaf monkey flowers, golden yarrow, chamise,Mexican elderberry and black sage are putting on quite a show. Along with these lovelies, look for popcorn flower, scarlet buglers, punch bowl clarkia, dwindling wall flowers, morning glories, common phacelias, chia and caterpillar phacelias.

Sunset Valley is much like the Ranger Peak to the Cachuma area with the sticky leaf monkey flowers, buckwheat, golden yarrow, chamise, Mexican elderberry and black sage being the stars of the show, however, the punch bowl and elegant clarkias have their own show going on in their splendid hues of pink and magenta. Of course, the punch bowl clarkia isalso known as “Farewell to spring”, so this is its time to shine. Also look for sky lupine, scarlet buglers, yellow poppies, milk thistle, popcorn flowers, chia, morning glories, seep spring monkey flowers (along the creek crossings), Nuttles- larkspur, a few yellow mariposa lilies and dreaded California dodder, also known as witch’s hair. California dodder is a parasitic vine that climbs up the plants and robs them from their nutrients. Once California dodder sets in, the wildflowers and other spring plants are short lived. While it is a parasitic plant, it is native to most of the western portions of the United States and is part of the wildflower cycle. As parasitic as it is, it really is quite beautiful with its resemblance to long blondish/reddish hair, hence the name “witch’s hair”.

Happy Canyon is also similar to Sunset Valley. As you head down the hill, you will once again see a great amount of golden yarrow, punch bowl clarkia, stick leaf monkey flowers, Mexican Elderberry, black sage and mustard. You will also see a few bush poppies still holding on, along with some yellow poppies, yellow mariposas, common phacelias and milk thistle.

As you continue down the hill, on the rocky slopes to the left about a mile beyond the shooting area, look for the start of climbing penstemon, lovely hillsides of punchbowl clarkia with Nuttles-larkspur mixed in, morning glories, dudleya, wooly blue curls, butter lupine and a few mariposa lilies.

A reminder to all wildflower viewers…..when stopping to take pictures or to take a hike, please do not block the road atany time nor double park. As you all know, this is a hazard and makes it impossible for an emergency vehicle to get through if their assistance were required.

That’s all for this year’s wildflower updates. Look for a video of this year’s Figueroa wildflowers on the Los PadresNational Forest Facebook page in a week or so. If you would like to be added to the Figueroa Wildflower Update email list for next year, please contact Helen Tarbet by e-mail at Until next spring!

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