Page Revised: 3/9/07


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch

Castro Crest

Point Mugu State Park

Malibu Creek State Park

Topanga State Park

Will Rogers State Historic Park


Date of Review





11/12/06 & 10/16/06.



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


Circle X Ranch

Various trails

  Date: 3/9/07



        The very dry conditions we’ve had this winter has resulted in unusually few flowers so far this year.  In particular, the annuals that depend on regular winter rain to germinate their seeds are running way behind.  Even the perennials have been slow to get going.  However, we are finally beginning to see good numbers of ceanothus blooming so at least they believe Spring is beginning. In fact, they have been so quick to pop out that I’ve had to re-write this review since I began composing it a few days ago

        The chaparral current has been blooming for a month now and while some have already finished blooming most are in their prime.  The same can be said for big-berry manzanita although the later blooming Eastwood manzanita is just beginning.  Individual bigpod ceanothus shrubs have been blooming for some time but the population as a whole is only just beginning.  However, in just the last two days a dramatic change has occurred and now they can be seen on the hillsides at a distance.  Even a few of the other species of ceanothus can be seen blooming here and there.  The other notable right now is the shooting star.  Again, they are just beginning but both the Mishe Mokwa trail and the Backbone trail below the Mishe Mokwa display them well in a number of locations.

        I’ve also run across scattered examples of purple nightshade, California buckwheat, deer weed, wild cucumber, wooly lomatium, southern tauschia, silk-tassel bush, prickly phlox, two-tone everlasting, morning glory, and a few popcorn flowers.  On the Canyon View trail last weekend I noticed that the wishbone bush looks like it is getting ready for a good year but has not quite started blooming yet.  Along the creeks the small flowers of the mule fat are easy to miss.  On the grotto trail two weeks ago we smelled the sweet fragrance of the California bay and examined a nice display of young ferns.  A hike to Sandstone Peak last week resulted in the poorest flower showing I have ever seen, but the hike itself was magnificent with vistas of the offshore islands and distant snow-capped peaks.  Even the typical roadside weeds like the mustard, filaree and groundsel seem to be struggling to do much.  The creeks are mostly dry, and while there is water at the grotto, none of the waterfalls are doing anything worth mentioning.  On the other hand the trails are pleasantly green and in good condition.  In summary, from a strictly flowering perspective, the hikes I’ve done so far this year have been mostly poor, but that may change fast now that the days are getting warmer.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Mostly Poor but with some Fair sections


Castro Crest

backbone trail

  Date: 2/10/06



        This morning, Saturday, we walked from Upper Solstice to Kanan (T1).  It was great weather and 22 hikers finished under their own power.  The blooms we saw included (in no particular order): mule fat, morning glory, California buckwheat, ashyleaf buckwheat, big-pod ceanothus, man-root, two-tone everlasting, wand chicory, purple nightshade, hillside gooseberry, chaparral currant, tree-poppy, telegraph weed, milkmaids, bigberry manzanita, coast paintbrush California bay, California sagebrush,  (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Point Mugu State Park

La Jolla Canyon trail

  Date: 2/6/06



        I took a long hike in La Jolla Canyon on Saturday.  It'd been years since I'd been there and it was delightful.  But looking for flowers was something of a scavenger hunt.  As you say on the flower web site; for spotting blooming flowers you would have to rate it below poor.  It looked like the recent freeze took out the majority of the laurel sumac.  I'm going to try and watch it and see if they make new leaves or completely die.

        As to flowers there were a few chaparral current, deer weed and some giant coreopsis starting,  On the ocean bluff there was some bladderpod in bloom.  Speaking of ocean bluffs, I also stopped by Bluffs Park in Malibu to look at the area that burned a few weeks ago and to see if anything was starting to sprout.  Little bits here and there.  Another place I want to keep an eye on.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Malibu Creek State Park

Backbone between Castro and Tapia

  Date: 1/17/06



        This is all we saw walking from Castro to Tapia, in no particular order:

bigberry manzanita, telegraph weed, coyote bush, ashyleaf buckwheat, chaparral currant, cliff-aster, California everlasting, California fuchsia, mule fat, woolly aster, and Plummer's Baccharis.  (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Topanga State Park

Backbone Trail

  Date: 11/12/06



        Today’s hike is the second of the NPS sponsored Backbone Trail hikes in the 2006 – 2007 series. We will be hiking east to west, one section of the Backbone Trail each month. The weather was clear, windy and cool in the shade.

        We started our hike in the parking lot at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park and hiked the following Backbone Trail sections to the intersection of Stunt and Saddle Peak Roads. The first section is called Dead Horse, then after crossing Topanga Canyon Blvd. is a section that I call Henry Ridge to the crossing of Old Topanga Road. After Old Topanga is a 3.5 mile climb up beautiful Hondo Canyon, the one mile of Fossil Ridge Trail to the end of today’s hike, a total of 7 miles.

        A Saturday group of Backbone Trail hikers did the same route except that they did it in the opposite direction to take advantage of mostly downhill in that direction. I happened to be on the Dead Horse Trail on Saturday afternoon when the Saturday group passed by, only a half mile from their finish. I noted the “flower recording person” had a very small list, so my expectation for our hike was very low. His comment was that their botanizing was mostly of plant leaves.

        There was Sawtooth goldenbush, past prime Coyote brush, and I noted one sprig of Chamise that had a few flowers. Cliff and Woolly asters, and Twiggy wreathplant (Wand chicory) are still scattered along the trail. The lower part of the Hondo Canyon Trail has a number of Bristly ox-tongue blooming and a smattering of delicate Wand buckwheat. Surprisingly we only saw a few Black mustard flowers on the entire hike. In one small section a few California buckwheat were beginning to bloom.  (BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Will Rogers SHP and Topanga State Park

Backbone Trail

  Date: 10/16/06



        Today’s hike is the first of the NPS sponsored Backbone Trail hikes in the 2006 – 2007 series. We will be hiking east to west, one section of the Backbone Trail each month. The weather was overcast and cool; great for hiking. Under these conditions, in this season, the few plants with flowers really stand out against the dark chaparral background colors dominated by the rust color of last season’s buckwheat.

        We started our hike in the parking lot at Will Rogers State Historic Park and ended at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park. From the parking lot to the Backbone Trailhead we saw Elderberry flowers, Russian thistle, Tree tobacco and Black mustard. Climbing the Rogers Road section we saw Ashyleaf buckwheat and Sawtooth goldenbush. Rain showers the night before last seems to have started early blooming of the California buckwheat and Deerweed. These blooms were not spectacular, but seeing them this early in the new blooming cycle has somewhat of a WOW factor. As expected we saw many of the Coyote brush and a few stands of bright red California fuchsia that are a month or so past the end of their predicted season. The rains have coaxed a few blossoms on some Horehound and California everlasting. The Twiggy wreathplant is plentiful, but does not have many leaves at this time and the flowers seem to be floating in air when viewed from a distance. Another WOW sighting, beyond the Lone Oak (3 miles up the trail) are several Indian pink. At our lunch stop on Cathedral Rocks we were surrounded by Wooly or California aster. Along the Eagle Springs section of the trail we saw many Telegraph weed and a single Slender tarplant near the Hub. In addition to Slim aster, we were surprised to see several Bush senecio and a small group of blooming California dodder near Eagle Springs. Some of the white Dodder blossoms are grouped and some are spaced necklace-like along the orange stems. Along the Musch Trail we saw Golden bush and in meadow areas, Bull thistle, Doveweed or Turkey mullen, Common vervain and Vinegar weed.  (BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Generally Poor




Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




Thank you


for your contributions:



Bonnie Clarfield
Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Greg Sweel
Jack Gillooly
Judy Joy Lively
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Matt Friedman
Michael Charters
Ralph Waycott
Richard & Agnes Thaler
Robert W. Maughmer
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408