Page Revised: 3/1/06


Available Sites

Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Cyns
Circle X Ranch
Zuma-Trancas Canyons
Nicholas Flat

Will Rogers State Park
Solstice Canyon
Circle X Ranch
Rancho Sierra Vista
Point Mugu State Park

Date of Review


Note: the National Park Service’s web server has been down for several weeks now. As soon as the server is back up this review will be posted on the park’s web site.

What's Blooming photo gallery:

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Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons

Palo Comado Cyn Trail & a portion of China Flat Trail

  Date: 2/23/06



        A good portion of this trip was a quick survey done in a vehicle so this list must be considered incomplete (for example, a hike of the same area a few weeks earlier netted over twice as many species in bloom.) Ignoring the common weedy species the highlights included fiddleneck, Parry's phacelia, Indian paintbrush, woolly blue curls, purple nightshade, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, bigpod ceanothus, greenbark ceanothus, deerweed, two-tone everlasting, canyon sunflower, prickly phlox, stinging lupine, bajada lupine, chia, mustard evening primrose, sun-cup, wishbone bush, golden yarrow, yellow pincushion, peony, star lily, California poppy, windmill pink, morning glory, twining snapdragon, white snapdragon, blue toadflax, yellow monkey flower, Brewer's red maids, eucrypta, and miner's lettuce.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto and Mishe Mokwa loop

  Date: 2/19/06



        2/18/06, Grotto Trail:  Flowers are off to a slow start.  The white big pod ceanothus are in full bloom, dropping tiny white flowers like snow.  The wild cucumbers are getting started.  There are some blue larkspur, sticky monkey flower and a few peony’s. The hummingbird sage is just starting.

        2/19/06: Sandstone Peak-Mishe Mokwa Loop:  There are a lot of big pod ceanothus, some California buckwheat, deerweed, golden yarrow and wild cucumber.  At the base of Sandstone Peak there was prickly phlox and purple nightshade.  Continuing on there was greenbark ceanothus, chaparral current, Eastwood and big berry manzanita in bloom.  The meadow of padres shooting stars has past its peak.  Heading down to Split Rock there are at least a dozen silk tassel bushes and, on the morning we walked, several dozen earthstar mushrooms.  Coming up from Split Rock there are a few milk maids, an occasional canyon sunflower and the very beginning of wooly blue curls.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Zuma-Trancas Canyons

Backbone Trail between Kanan and Mulholland

  Date: 2/11/06



        Highlights include pitcher sage, sun-cup, slender sunflower, canyon sunflower, white nightshade, purple nightshade, golden-yarrow, Indian warrior, big-pod ceanothus, greenbark ceanothus, man-root, popcorn flower, deerweed, chaparral currant, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, milkmaids, walnut, peony, four o'clock. (RW & BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Nicholas Flat

various trails

  Date: 2/6/06



        This seldom visited area has a lot to offer in a small space even though the wildflowers are just starting to bloom. On the drive to the area off of Decker Road, lots of big pod ceanothus were blooming, but only a few buds were open at Nicholas Flat. We saw an occasional bloom here and there, such as canyon sunflower, wild sweet pea, hummingbird sage, greenbark ceanothus, chaparral currant, California everlasting and fiddleneck. On the slopes where chocolate lilies will bloom later, there were quite a few shooting stars. The pond is full and had several migratory birds in it: ring neck ducks, pied bill grebes and buffleheads as well as the usual coots. The highlight for us was the lichens. They’re all over the oaks and many other plants as well. We saw green shield lichens, firedot and candleflame lichens. These are the grey green, yellow and orangey lichen crusts on the trees and shrubs. Dotted ramalina lichens were hanging down from the bare branches of the bush mallow. Perhaps the lichens were more visible since the bushes have not leafed out yet, but they were a treat to see.  (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  just beginning


Will Rogers State Park


  Date: 2/2/06



        Starting at the front parking kiosk and going up the hill staying on the trail more than the fireroad. Things are greening up and starting to bloom.  Big pod ceanothus has a good start through the park.  Big berry manzanita are in full bloom with their delicate bells well attended by hummingbirds.    There is also a fair amount of deerweed and California everlasting.  Lots of little starts of things; one clump of wishbone flower, a little purple nightshade, a single chaparral current bush, one stand of rock rose and a single bush poppy.  It can't compare to last February but it is still lovely.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon Trail

  Date: 1/22/06



        Spring flowers are already starting to bloom along the easy trail to Tropical Terrace. White flowers of California blackberry are poking out. A few plants of both white and purple nightshade are in bloom as well as wild cucumber. Poison oak is sprouting lush, green new leaves. Sugarbushes are in bud. The streamside alders have already produced both catkins and cones. Of course, all the usual non-natives are starting to bloom too. You’ll see mustard, beggar ticks and Bermuda buttercups. Just before you reach the tropical terrace, you’ll find bay trees in bloom. Be sure to smell the flowers on the bay trees which smell like mild gardenias and so different from the spicy smell of the bay leaves.   (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor, but promising


Circle X Ranch

All trails

  Date: 1/9/06



        Very little change since the last report in November. The scattered holdouts from last summer are now pretty much gone and most of the new season’s flowers are still only represented by scattered individuals that are well ahead of the majority. Consequently, the flower density remains very low and the species count only slightly above a couple of dozen. Bigpod ceanothus has been making slow but steady gains on several trails but most are not yet blooming. In some locations the chaparral current are finishing up and now in fruit, but in others they are still flowering well. The bigberry manzanitas on the Mishe Mokwa trail are definitely winding down but in compensation a few of the Eastwood manzanitas up by Sandstone peak are beginning to bloom. One location on the Triunfo section of the backbone trail has a grand display of purple nightshade and cliff aster but most of the rest of the trail is quite barren. Except for the part of the trail that skirts the creek the canyon view trail is devoid of flowers. Similarly, the grotto trail has little to show in the way of flowers. On the other hand all trials are in good condition and have greened up quite nicely. Several of the creeks have water in them again and greet the hiker with their conversation. With the clearer air hikes to Sandstone peak regularly reveal the even the most distant of the Channel Islands as well as far off snow-capped peaks. The abundance of plants and even swelling flower buds suggests that given some warm weather the flower situation will improve rapidly.

        Among the scattered flowers we’ve recently encountered at CXR are annual paintbrush, white hedge nettle, tree tobacco, red-stem filaree, two-tone everlasting, wishbone bush, both bush and canyon sunflowers, deerweed, telegraph weed, twiggy wreath plant, mule fat, California bay, silk-tassel bush, shooting stars, wild cucumber, greenbark ceanothus, Southern tauschia, golden yarrow, wild morning glory, rock rose, and hillside gooseberry.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Loop Trail

  Date: 12/18/05



        A cool, cloudy day was perfect to see the usual early bloomers appearing on this short (1.5 mile) loop trail. There are a lots of chaparral currant, known as our earliest bloomer.  A few late summer/fall flowers, such as mallow and mule fat, are still hanging on to bushes. Big pod ceanothus is in bud and many blooms are already opening. A few bushes of purple nightshade have lots of blooms. Toyon is loaded with luscious red berries, although some bushes have already been stripped by the birds. (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Promising, but poor, due to quantity.


Point Mugu State Park

Backbone trail: Ray Miller to Danielson Multi-use

  Date: 12/10/05



        Each month between December and June the National Park Service (NPS) escorts hikers on sequential segments of the Backbone Trail Hike (BBT).  Car and van shuttles facilitate the logistics.  The hikers are chosen in November.  If you're interested in participating in next year's walk contact the NPS Visitors Center, 805-370-2301.

        Perfect weather accompanied the lead segment of this year's NPS BBT hike.  Unending views of the Channel Islands, dramatic clouds and far off interior mountain ranges literally placed us in the middle of wide open spaces.  The area is still very dry.  Plants greened up with the October precipitation, but they aren't yet willing to risk their future generations on our unpredictable weather.  Blooms are just around the corner if the elements would only cooperate.

        Climbing out of La Jolla Canyon's Riparian environment, the hills of Coastal Sage Scrub held limited species offerings.  Sometimes just a single flower was all one could enjoy.  As we descended back into the Riparian floor of Sycamore Canyon the gold, yellow and greens of the canyon's namesake tree were glorious.  Some of the perennial shrub species are holding a good bloom quite well, but you'll have to be patient for the burst of color.  Blooms are either fall holdovers or winter's early arrivals, mixed in with some ubiquitous exotics.  As we walked we noted: mule fat, coyote bush, lemonade berry, ashy leaf buckwheat, bladderpod, deerweed, wand chicory, black mustard, big-pod ceanothus, chaparral currant, squaw spurge, and four o'clock.  Also enjoyed were: sugar bush, purple nightshade, cliff-aster, prickly phlox, gum plant, woolly aster, California fuchsia, wand buckwheat, chamise; greasewood, tree tobacco, and telegraph weed (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Jack Gillooly
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Michael Charters
Matt Friedman
Robert W. Maughmer

Ralph Waycott
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408