Welcome to the 30Th Annual Wildflower Hotline , Brought to You by the Theodore Payne

Welcome to the 30th Annual Wildflower Hotline, brought to you by the Theodore Payne Foundation, a non-profit plant nursery, seed source, book store, and education center dedicated to the preservation of wildflowers and California native plants. This report is for May 4, 2012. New reports will be posted each Friday through the end of May.

There are a significant number of wildflowers blooming now in Santa Monica Mountains on the Musch Trail accessed from Trippett Ranch at Topanga State Park. Mariposa lilies (Calochortus spp.) and blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) as well as many other wonderful and colorful flowers.There are also at least 6 species of native ferns to be seen.

At the west end of the mountains, Rancho Sierra Vista Satwiwa Loop Trail offers a cascading waterfall at the end, but along the way look for wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia), collarless California poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa), Parry’s phacelia (Phacelia parryi), Mariposa lilies (Calochortus spp.), hummingbird sage (Salvia spathaceae), and golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum).

In upper Zuma and Trancas Canyons along the Backbone Trail, black sage (Salvia mellifera) is fragrant and blooming along with bush (Encelia californica ) and canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides). California hedge nettle, (Stachys bullata) is very pretty at this point. Other nice finds in the woodland include caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria), cliff aster (Malacothrix saxatilis), purple nightshade (Solanum sp.), California everlasting (Pseudognaphalium sp.), and bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus). Higher up the canyon there is slender sunflower (Helianthus gracilentus), and woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum). Various ceanothus species (Ceanothus spp.) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra) are extending their sprays of fragrant flower clusters into the trail.

Along the Backbone Trail at Malibu Creek State Park, near Saddle Peak, several species of ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.) are in bloom, but fading, and lupines (Lupinus spp.), clovers (Trifolium spp.), sages (Salvia spp.), and a variety other perennials. Annuals include wall flower (Erysimum capitatum), blue larkspur (Delphinium sp.), gilia (Gilia spp.), and clarkia (Clarkia sp.).

At the easternmost end of the Santa Monica Mountains, the chaparral covered slopes of Griffith Park are dotted with bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus),

California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), California pearly everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum) and Mexican elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea). The lance-leaf dudleyas (Dudleya lanceolata) growing among the rocks and boulders are producing flower stalks. In the Zoo parking lot, farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena), Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), California wild rose (Rosa californica) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) are all in bloom.

The lack of rain in the Santa Monica Mountains earlier in winter and spring has diminished the overall bloom this year. That said, one can find flowers if you go looking for them, but expect fewer numbers, more restricted distribution, and in some cases dwarfed or otherwise stunted growth.

Our only report this week from north of the LA Basin comes from Pinnacles National Monument. The pretty little bitter root (Lewisia rediviva) is blooming along the High Peaks Trail, but it is well camouflaged sitting on the gravelly soil. The different clarkias are beginning to show along the trails, elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), wine-cup clarkia (Clarkia purpurea ssp. quadrivulnera), and speckled clarkia (Clarkia affinis). Members of the poppy family can be seen colonizing the landscape, California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), tufted poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa), cream cups (Platystemon californica), golden eardrops (Ehrendorferia chrysantha) and a few bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida). Along the Old Pinnacles Trail look for the bright orange-red of scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), yellow pretty faces (Triteleia lugens) and patches of large gray leaves and sunny yellow flowers of the mule ears (Wyethia helenoides) — a very cool plant! Fringed onions (Allium fimbriatum var. fimbriatum), and checker lilies (Fritillaria affinis) can be found as well.

Journey out to our inland regions and deserts. In the southern end Joshua Tree National Park, the Mastodon Peak Trail continues to be nice with cacti, Mohave asters (Xylorhiza tortifolia) and rock live-forever (Dudleya saxosa) replacing the fading wildflowers. Sand blazing star (Mentzelia involucrata) is still going strong, and Sylvia’s Wash, 2.7 miles south of Cottonwood Visitor Center is an excellent wildflower stop. Search the canyon walls and trails around Cottonwood for a real nice displays of yellow bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), the red flowering chuparosa (Justicia californica), brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) and the coral-colored wands of desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). Ocotillo Patch is still magnificent and more flowers are appearing along Pinto Basin Road and Park Boulevard. Use a turn out and check out the patches of purple mat (Nama demissum) and onyx flower (Achyronychia cooperi). There are stands of coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) and desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata) in Wilson Canyon. Several species of cacti are beginning to bloom throughout the park. Look for the pink flowers on beavertail cactus (Optuntia basilaris) and calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmanii) around Cottonwood. All the cacti will be in peak bloom next month.

In the San Jacinto Mountains along the Palms to Pines Highway (74) you might want to hike the Cactus Spring trail. Reportedly it has a good display of colorful perennials like desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), various penstemons (Penstemon spp.), wild onions (Allium spp.) and cacti just starting to flower. There are still a few annuals dotting the landscape as well. Continuing through Garner Valley to Idyllwild, you will see lupines (Lupinus spp.). paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) and wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) in bloom along the roadside. In Mountain Center and Idyllwild proper, chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) is showing many hues of blue on the chaparral covered slopes.

The clovers are standouts this week at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. Look for balloon clover (Trifolium depauperatum), tomcat clover (Trifolum willdenovii), small head field clover (Trifolium microcephalum) and spanish clover (Acmispon americanus) throughout the preserve. The bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) is very showy among the rocks and boulders. The thread leaf brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia) is up on the clay flats, and the lithe splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) is sticking up among the grassy trail slopes. Bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus var. hallii) and chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) are stand outs here and there throughout the preserve.


Balloon clover (Trifolium depauperatum var. menziesii). Photo by Michael Charters

At elevations well above the valley floor at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, wildflowers can still be found. On the Wilson Trail in Culp Valley (at about 4000 feet elevation),there are a number of areas carpeted by goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis), yellow chaenactis (Chaenactis glabriuscula), the large-flowered version of cryptantha (Cryptantha micrantha), woolly eriophylum (Eriophyllum wallacei), and baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). Small scatterings of wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum), ground pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus) and woolly stars (Eriastrum spp.) are present here and there, and common phacelia (Phacelia distans) is abundant in many places. There are also some very showy individuals of goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia) and scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius). If you are on the trail at the right time of day, you will also see the giant four o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora) with open flowers.

Southwest of Anza Borrego at Escondido is Lake Hodges. Hike along the southeast side of the lake along Piedras Pintadas Trail and be amazed by slopes ablaze with color! A fire burned through this area about five years ago and the hillsides are still covered in yellow from three fire followers: golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), chaparral beard-tongue, (Keckiella antirrhinoides), and rush rose (Helianthemum scoparium). These are accompanied by quite a few other species in bloom. One of the most spectacular is the showy penstemon, (Penstemon spectabilis). There are large patches of this penstemon in one location at the far end of the trail.

Seldom explored, Upper Hot Springs Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains is excellent for botanizing this time of year. Numerous annual wildflowers that confetti the landscape with blue, pink, white and yellow are mountain dandelion (Agoseris grandiflora), known for it wonderful seed head, purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta), four-spot clarkia (Clarkia purpurea), chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), goldfields (Lasthenia sp.) forget-me-nots (Cryptantha spp.), larkspurs (Delphinium spp.), baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii), and phacelias (Phacelia spp.). Annuals that are less common include golden linanthus, (Leptosiphon aureus), small-flowered meconella (Meconella denticulata), and Douglas sandwort (Minuartia douglasii). Showy larger perennials that fill in the landscape are slender sunflower (Helianthus gracilentus), San Diego sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus var. vestitus), bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus), felt paintbrush (Castilleja foliosa) and the very fragrant San Miguel savory (Satureja chandleri). Then, sticking upright here and there, are some splendid geophytes like Humboldt lily (Lilium humboldtii var. oscellatum), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), red-skinned onion (Allium haematochiton), fairy lantern lily (Calochortus albus) and a large patch of orchids (Epipactis giganteum).

Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea) and Douglas minuartia (Minuartia douglasii). Photos by Ron Vanderhoff

Along the immediate coast of Orange County, on the beaches and bluffs at Crystal Cove State Beach the following sightings were recorded: arare form of rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides), sand verbena (Abronia maritima), beach bur (Ambrosia chamissonis), evening primrose (Camissoniopsischeiranthifolia), goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii), sand spurry (Spergulariamarina) and several others.

You can tell it is late spring at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach when the cacti begin to bloom. Look for the hot pink blossoms of the beavertail cactus (Optuntia basilaris) and yellow flowers of the prickly pear cactus (Optuntia littoralis). The daisy like flowers of California encelia (Encelia californica), seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus) and brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) are blooming cheerfully along the trails. The sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) is abundant and colorful everywhere.

Because Prisk Native Garden located in Long Beach, is still looking spectacular, they decided to have another Open House event on May 5th. See event notices below for more detail. Visitors will delight in seeing Mojave bluebells (Phacelia campanularia), Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), globe gilia (Gilia capitata), woolly blue-curls (Trichostema lanatum), elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), wind poppy (Stylomecon heterophylla),apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), coral bells (Heuchera spp.), several different colored monkeyflower cultivars (Mimulus spp. & cvs.), four varieties of blooming penstemon: royal, splendid, desert or Palmer’s and Eaton's penstemons (Penstemon spp.) and several species of blooming cacti.

Prisk Native Garden, Long Beach. Photos by Mike Letteriello

San Clemente Island brodiaea (Brodiaea kinkiensis). Photo by George Nanoski

The Habitat Gardens at Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy are still experiencing a colorful bloom, especially with many rare native species. This week, the Flagpole Garden has San Clemente Island brodiaea (Brodiaea kinkiensis) just starting to flower. Again, this school garden is a slice of inspiring nature in a concrete and asphalt city. The Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is popping with white flowers all over. Farnsworth jewelflower (Streptanthus farnsworthianus), clarkias (Clarkia spp.), sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum), chia (Salvia columbariae), phacelias, (Phacelia spp.), California poppy (Eschscholzia calfornica), bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), Santa Rosa Island white-felted paintbrush (Castilleja lanata ssp. hololeuca), hummingbird sage (Salvia spathaceae), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), and very showy Matilija poppy (Romenya coulteri) blooms. The many ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.) have heavy cascading branches of many hues of blue flowers. At site 2 in front of the Family Center & Elizabeth Street Clinic, there are bright colorful carpets of all the flowers mentioned above and many, many more. Various lupines (Lupinus spp.) and the Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) are real standouts here. The general public is always welcome to visit the gardens at the Elizabeth Learning Center from 8:00am to 4:00pm Monday thru Friday. Anyone interested in visiting just needs to get a Visitor's Pass from the Main Office and say they are here for the Habitat Garden Wildflowers.

Elizabeth Learning Center Garden. Photos by George Nanoski

In the display gardens at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, check out the showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), multicolored monkeyflower varieties (Mimulus cultivars), Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida), canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), paper flower (Psilostrophe cooperi), lilac verbena (Verbena lilacina) and Matillija poppy (Romneya coulteri).

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


CNPS-Los Angeles Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

SUN May 6 - 8:45am Malibu Creek State Park. Return of the Lost Oak Woodlands. For more information go to www.lasmmcnps.org

CNPS-Orange County Chapter

Sunday, May 20. CNPS Orange County's next field trip will be to the Laguna Beach area. Trips are free and open to the public. www.OCCNPS.org.

CNPS-San Diego Chapter

Saturday, May 5 - Public Plant Hike, North Shore Lake Hodges

10:00am – noon For more information

CNPS-San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Eaton Canyon Plant Walks: Second Sunday of each month except July and August. Meet in front of Eaton Canyon Nature Center at 9:00 a.m. Then go on a leisurely walk, about 2 hours, through the native plant garden that surrounds the Center and into the nearby wild areas. The walk is different each time — what's leafing out, flowering, in seed, etc., determines what your leader will talk about — and different leaders bring different points of view.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve

Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center opens on, March 18th from 10am - 4pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm weekends for the duration of the wildflower season.

The Arlington Garden in Pasadena is a three acre California native, wildflower and Mediterranean climate plant public garden open every day from dawn to dusk. And it's free. The garden is just seven years old but in full bloom. It shouldn't be missed.

Prisk Native Habitat Garden

Saturday, May 5, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.