Page Revised: 3/2/09


Available Site Reviews

Escondido Canyon

Cold Creek Preserve

Backbone Trail

Rocky Oaks

Circle X Ranch

Date of Review







What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Calendar of Events:


        The beginning of March is often the true beginning of the wildflower season and this year seems to be no exception. A lot has popped out in the last week or so.  This is the time of year when the longer days and warmer weather rapidly increase the displays of flowers.  –ed.




Escondido Canyon Natural Area

   Escondido Falls Trail

          Date: 2/25



        Bermuda buttercup, Bicolored everlasting [Two-toned everlasting], Blue dicks, Bur clover, California buckwheat, California Maiden-hair fern, Canyon sunflower, Castor bean [Castor plant], Coastal wood-fern [California wood fern], Coffee fern, Common sunflower, Fennel, Fleabane aster, Greenbark ceanothus, Hummingbird sage, Periwinkle, Popcorn flower, Red-stemmed filaree, Succulent lupine [Arroyo Lupine] ?, Sugar bush, Terracina Spurge, Weedy oxalis, White nightshade, Wild sweet pea, Wild morning glory, Wild radish, Wild cucumber, Wishbone plant [Wishbone bush], Woolly paintbrush.  I'd be happy to share photos and have any mis-identifications corrected: .  – S.L. Dickey.


Cold Creek Preserve

High Stunt Trail

      Date: 2/15, 18, & 22



        Greetings flower lovers!  It's a great time to explore the local creeks and waterfalls before the outburst of spring foliage makes them nearly impassable.  I'm guessing that the Cold Creek Valley Preserve, (located below Stunt Road) is one of the few places in the Agoura / Calabasas area which is always open to the public and where you can see a nice display of ferns along the creek bed.  (Note Cold Creek Preserve -- above Stunt Road -- is open to the public during docent tours and by reservation.)  Here's what I saw about 10 days ago: Blue dicks, Buck brush, California peony, California everlasting, California polypody, California buckwheat, California Maiden-hair fern, Chalk live-forever, Chaparral currant, Cliff aster, Coastal wood-fern [California wood fern], Coffee fern, Greenbark ceanothus, Lupines (Arroyo ?), Milkmaids, Miner's lettuce, Periwinkle, Prickly phlox, Purple nightshade, Red-stemmed filaree, Sugar bush, Tree tobacco, Wild cucumber.  I'd be happy to share photos and have any mis-identifications corrected:  – S.L. Dickey.


Backbone Trail


           Date: 2/14



        Today’s hike is the fourth of the NPS sponsored Backbone Trail hikes in the 2008 – 2009 series. We will be hiking west to east, one section of the Backbone Trail each month. The weather was partly cloudy and cool.

        We started our hike where the Backbone Trail crosses Encinal Canyon Road. We hiked the trail to the west (really pretty much a northerly direction for this section), crossing Mulholland Highway within 1.2 miles and continuing another 2.6 miles to the Etz Meloy Motorway. This section of trail is entirely on NPS property and the property ends about a half mile up the Etz Meloy Motorway, at which point we have to turn around because NPS has not yet acquired the necessary property to continue. The trail was moist from recent rains and views from the top were spectacular, enhanced by snow topped mountains to the north and east.

        Most of the flower activity was just beginning. There were some left-over Chaparral Current, Wild Cucumber and Big Pod Ceanothus. Last year we had a second bloom of the Big Pod and I expect that will happen this year as well. We had to check the veins in the leaves to be sure the purple flowering Ceanothus was the Greenbark species. Mule Fat, California Everlasting, Two-Tone Everlasting, Deerweed, Wishbone Bush, Tree Tobacco and Morning Glory were scattered along the trail. Counting the “weeds’ like Black Mustard we counted 19 species in bloom. The section of trail above Mulholland was constructed fairly recently and many of the flowers that like disturbed soil are beginning to appear. We saw a single Parry’s Phacelia and young Bleeding Heart plants. Young Cliff Asters are wide spread. We had two sunflower examples close enough to compare differences between the Slim Sunflower and Canyon Sunflower.  A couple California Fuschia, covered with newly forming galls looked very strange.  Rating: poor.  – B. Elliott & R. Waycott


Rocky Oaks


            Date: 2/1



        Blooms are only fair here now, but many plants are in bud. This small site is worth seeing now and returning again to watch the progress of the blooming season. We saw a few big berry Manzanita with blooms going to berries, lots of red berries on the toyon. In the pond were coots and ducks (shovelers). Tree frogs were croaking. Many different types of lichen are visible.

        The only masses of blooms were on the three species of white flowered ceanothus just about everywhere. It’s worth going to practice your identification skills on the ceanothus.  All their white flowers are similar. Big pod ceanothus (megacarpus) has alternate leaves. Hoary-leaved ceanothus (crassifolius) and buck-brush ceanothus (cuneatus) both have opposite leaves. Both have thicker leaves then big pod. Both have corky stipules near the leaf stems. Hoary-leaved has rounder leaves with occasional jagged teeth. These leaves are very white (hoary) wooly on the underside. Buck-brush (cuneatus) has wedge-shaped (cuneate) leaves with the narrow part near the stem. Buck-brush can also be finely wooly on the underside.

        Trails on the western side of the site have more flowers.

 – S. Braden & J. Gillooly


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

         Date: 1/18



        We hiked down to the grotto last weekend but there was not much in the way of flowers to report about.  We saw a total of twenty different species in bloom and that included all the weedy things we encountered and several that were actually seen as we hunted around off-trail.  Without exception everything we saw blooming was a perennial and none had started to bloom in any abundance yet.  The bigpod ceanothus was just barely beginning to bloom on the 18th, but now on the 24th it looks like most of the population has started to bloom.  So far the hills have only a faint blush of white on them.  It will be interesting to see how they do this year given the horrible stress they were under last year.   –ed.



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360






If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408