Page Revised: 4/13/06


Available Sites

Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Cyns
Rocky Oaks
Circle X Ranch
Malibu Creek State Park
Point Mugu Stare Park
Topanga State Park
Cold Creek Preserve
Solstice Canyon

Date of Review

4/7/06 & 3/31/06 & 3/17/06 & 2/19/06.
4/8/06/ 3/23/06.

3/30/06 & 3/22/06.

What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Events in the Santa Monica Mountains:


Cheeseboro /

Palo Comado Canyons

Various north-end trails

  Date: 4/13/06



        Trails examined included the Albertson Motorway, Palo Comado Canyon Trail, and the Sheep Corral Trail. Much of the lower section of this unit is literally choked with non-native grasses and weeds but if you get up to the Northern end you are rewarded with some very nice wildflower displays. Some sections of some of the trails are quite good right now, even very good, but overall the quality of the flower display was quite variable from place to place. Be aware that much of this unit was burned in last fall's fires and is not fully open for visitor use. Be sure to read all posted signs to avoid entering closed areas. Some of the burned areas are especially fragile right now.

        The lower end of the Palo Comado Trail was quite disappointing, but as the trail begins to rise we saw good numbers of several different species of wildflowers. Turning left onto Sheep Corral trail the situation was again quite good at least until we dropped back down into the depths of the burn. It is interesting to see how some areas are coming back primarily as non-native weeds, but in other areas the native wildflowers are holding their own. My own curiosity will certainly keep me watching the burned areas as Spring progresses. Similarly, sections of the Albertson Motorway vary considerably, but none as bad as the weed choked lower end of the unit. Highlights include succulent lupine, paintbrush, purple nightshade, windmill pink, blue dick, prickly phlox, mustard evening primrose, popcorn flower, bush monkey flower, yellow monkey flower, black sage, chia, sunflowers, caterpillar phacelia, Parry's phacelia, several different lupines, wild morning glory, datura, wishbone bush, both white and yellow pincushions, several different lotus, white, blue, and twining snapdragons, eucrypta, a few different gilias, sections quite dense with star lily, golden yarrow, blue toadflax, fire poppies, fiesta flower, long-beaked filaree, and skullcap. All told over ninety different species in bloom.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor to Good


Rocky Oaks

Various trails

  Date: 4/9/06



        Our unseasonably cool weather has delayed the wildflower blooms here, but now things look promising. Most of the trails to the eastern edge of the site are still very wet and muddy and will keep you from exploring the meadow. In the areas surrounding the meadow you can see the beginnings of bloom: popcorn flowers, cryptantha, filaree and long-billed filaree, as well as lots of funnel-web spider webs and mushrooms. North of the pond area are small lupines. South of the pond the trail continues into drier chaparral vegetation and views start to improve. Firedot, candleflame and speckled greenshield lichens are clearly visible on black sage, chamise and other shrubs and you’ll find California buckwheat, lots of California everlasting and then patches of California poppies. As you continue west, blooms improve. The most impressive are the several types of ceanothus in bloom, especially the blue violet one, ceanothus oliganthus. You can also see Carolina geraniums, golden violets, more small blue lupines and some mountain mahogany, just starting to bloom before that trail ends at the far western edge of the park.  (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair to Good


Malibu Canyon State Park

Backbone Trail between Corral Trailhead and Tapia Park

  Date: 4/8/06



        This hike was section number six of the National Park Service's annual Backbone Trail hike. This section starts at the Corral Canyon trailhead and runs along the Mesa Peak Fire road then down to Tapia Park on Malibu Canyon Rd. A good portion of this hike is along the ridgeline offering some excellent vistas of both the ocean and the valley. Flower density is still low for this time of year which is somewhat offset by great displays of ceanothus, producing only a fair showing. All told about fifty species in bloom. Highlights include Greenbark ceanothus, prickly phlox, purple nightshade, Eastwood manzanita, manroot, sunflowers, Parry's phacelia, fiesta flower, virgins bower, a few different lupines, paintbrush, Indian pink, California blackberry, oxalis albicans, and, perhaps the most important, summer holly.  (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

  Date: 4/7/06



        the flower situation looks similar to the last report for the Grotto Trail: except for a few species the quantity of individuals remain low. The species count is up but many in the count are represented by just one plant in bloom. The recent rains have left the trail muddy in places, although it should be fine by the time you read this. There is a lot of water in the creek, enough to make the creek crossings a bit of a challenge and the waterfalls worth looking at. In the evenings there is a lot of frog song mixed in with the sound of the rushing water. This trail is excellent for another of our blue ceanothus, the greenbark ceanothus. It is a much paler blue than the darker hairy-leaved ceanothus found up on the Sandstone Peak and Mishe Mokwa trails. Other flower highlights include good quantities of purple nightshade, a single white nightshade, several morning glories, everlasting, canyon sunflower, some chinese houses, blue larkspur, a few fiesta flowers, miner's lettuce, popcorn flower, a little blue eyed grass, some bush monkey flower, a few blue dicks, one star lily, a few scraggly wishbone bushes, a fuchsia flowered gooseberry, and wild cucumber.  (TV)



Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Point Mugu State Park

La Jolla Canyon Trail

  Date: 4/6/06



        On 4/06/06 we hiked up the La Jolla Canyon Trail and connected with the Loop Trail westerly. Our objective was to find the Creeping buttercups that had been washed out from last years rains. We found several plants, but none were blooming. Including the grasses and trees we found 48 species in bloom. The dominant color was yellow which included hedge mustard, giant coreopsis, bush sunflower, deerweed, telegraph weed and bush monkey flower. Also found were sour clover, golden yarrow, bur clover and tree tobacco. Slender bedstraw, canyon sunflower, western wallflower, snake root, Santa Barbara locoweed and prickly sow thistle concludes the yellowish group.

        Second most common were the whitish group which included morning glory, Calif. everlasting,  horehound, poison oak, and mule fat. Two-tone everlasting, Calif. buckwheat, cliff aster, bigpod ceanothus, wild blackberry, eucrypta, and popcorn flower rounds out this group.

        In the purple/blue category we found black sage, redstem filaree, purple night shade, rigid hedge nettle, greenbark ceanothus, blue dick, blue-eyed grass, and wishbone bush. Red/pink was represented by coast  paint brush, wild sweetpea, and scarlet pimpernel.

        Other sightings were rip-gut brome, red brome, Calif. walnut, slender oats, golden top, arroyo willow and wild oats.

        There was plenty of water flowing in the creeks and at least three waterfalls were on display. The trail was in good condition with only a couple of muddy sections. The ticks seem to be as plentiful as they were last year, so don't spare the deet.  (RWM)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak Trail

  Date: 3/31/06



        At the lower elevations near the trailhead things look similar to a few weeks ago: few flowers, both in term of species count and quantity of individuals. However, moving up to higher elevations we begin to encounter large numbers of very heavily laden hairy-leaved ceanothus and a good number of prickly phlox. The deep blue and hot pink of these two flowers provide the perfect counterpoint. There was one short section of the trail which also included an abundance of the white blossoms of the hoary-leaved ceanothus that struck me as being as beautiful as any wildflower display I have ever seen. It wasn't just the unusually heavy blossom load, but rather the whole aspect taken together. It felt almost as if a skilled artist had arranged the dramatic colors to produce a work of art. Last year was a banner year for flowers in general, but only average for the ceanothus. This year the ceanothus have been spectacular and worth a hike in their own right (perhaps some compensation for the otherwise poor flower showing we’ve had so far this year.)

        Other notable sightings included purple nightshade, several black sage bushes beginning to bloom, golden yarrow, and good numbers of another favorite, the Eastwood manzanita, near the top of the trail. Don't forget to look for the smaller flowers like the delicate California saxifrage along the talus slopes just below the highpoint of the ascending trail. A few weeks ago it looked like the wild cucumbers were beginning to dry up but they are in full bloom again, thanks perhaps to the recent rains. There are still some shooting stars about and even a few chaparral currents. So don't let the rather poor flower condition near the bottom of the trail stop you, its much better farther up out of sight.

        So how to rate this trail? It doesn’t seem quite fair to rate it too high based on the presence of just a few of really stand-out species, but then, flower watching has always been a rather subjective sport. If you love the “California Lilac” as much as I do, then perhaps even “Excellent” is justified. However, cooler heads would point out that on the basis of the variety of flowers in bloom this is still a rather poor showing. You’ll have to decide for yourself.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair to Very Good


Topanga State Park

Los Liones Trail

  Date: 3/30/06



        Trailhead at the end of Los Liones St. off Sunset Blvd., just in from PCH.

        This trail is just starting to come into bloom.  Elderberry flowers, deerweed and California everlasting are visible from the trailhead.  Hiking a little ways brings you to canyon sunflower, morning glory, purple and white nightshade, wild cucumber, sticky monkey flower, bush sunflower and cliff aster.  This is a trail that is known for phacelia.  Not much yet but we did see some parry's and big flower phacelia..  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Malibu Creek State Park

Reagan Meadows

  Date: 3/23/06



        This is a lovely hike and one where you are not likely to encounter many other people.  Park in the gravel lot at the southeast corner of Mulholland and Cornell and walk up the paved driveway to the   park buildings.  Beyond the buildings the trail is obvious.  Soon the trail forks and you can choose the left and the meadow first or right and the woods, you can loop back the other way.  Either choice is perfumed with the scent of ceanothus.  I took the meadow trail first.  There are brambles of golden current and little yellow violets peeping out at the edge of the trail.  There is common fiddleneck, miner's lettuce, chaparral current, and, of course the ceanothus.  Curving uphill to the right at the end of the meadow you can return through the woods.  Here you find western wallflower, baby blue eyes, fiesta flower, larkspur and Chinese houses.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Topanga State Park

Dead Horse & Musch trails

  Date: 3/22/06



        Dead Horse Trail to Musch trail and return to Dead Horse on the fire road.

        The recent rains are paying off in flowers.  Things are really starting to bloom.  The Dead Horse Trail is riparian at the beginning and then goes to chaparral.  In the riparian area there is blooming chamise, greenbark ceanothus, canyon sunflower, hummingbird sage and manzanita.  Above the footbridge there are several dozen peonies in bloom, they must have waited for the rain.  In the chaparral area there are fuchsia flowering gooseberry and vervain.  In the meadow before the trail meets the Musch Trail there are buttercups and blue eyed grass.  Going up the Musch Trail there is sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, California buckwheat, California everlasting, wild morning glory and golden yarrow.  The most notable plant in bloom is notable penstemon which is just gorgeous and there is quite a bit of it.  There are also some lovely tree poppies.  Coming down the fire road to the Trippet Ranch parking lot there are still some prickly phlox hanging on.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

  Date: 3/17/06



        Still very few flowers making an appearance, both in terms of quantity and variety. One of the few plants that are having a good blooming season this year are the ceanothus. I was debating giving this trail a poor rating, but the fine display of greenbark ceanothus easily bumped it up to a fair rating (as a side note, we are still getting a great displays of the similar, but deeper blue, hairy-leaved ceanothus on the higher elevations at CXR.) Other highlights include, deerweed, California buckwheat, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, chamise, purple nightshade, blue larkspur, wishbone bush, common fiddleneck, shooting star, mustard evening primrose, wooly blue curls, annual paintbrush, golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, canyon sunflower, wild morning glory, blue dick, and California blackberry. (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Cold Creek Preserve

Stunt High Trail

  Date: 3/16/06



        This canyon is a wonderful hike in any season but especially nice in the spring.  The creek is full of water and the deep shade of the canyon bottom is refreshing.  Right at the trail head is some mustard evening primrose.  There are a lot of deep blue ceanothus throughout the canyon.  By the creek there are purple nightshade, California everlasting, wild cucumbers, miner's lettuce, milkmaids and fuchsia flowering gooseberry.  There are bunches of baby blue eyes in every sunlit patch. 

        Going up the hill into the meadow there are golden yarrow, lupine, popcorn flower, common fiddleneck, sweet peas, fiesta flowers, blue dicks and blue eyed grass. 

        Continuing into the chaparral there is Eastwood manzanita and the beautiful flowering ash trees dripping with creamy yellow blossoms.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Solstice Canyon

Sostomo trail

  Date: 3/7/06



        This beautiful canyon with a year round creek is always a good place for a hike.  We took the Sostomo Trail and added the Deer Canyon loop and didn't encounter another person for the entire hike.  We did see Sara Orange tip and California Sister butterflies.  There were blackberries, California everlasting, morning glory, canyon sunflower and purple and white nightshade in bloom.  There were beautiful patches of hummingbird sage which each seemed to have a hummingbird in attendance.  The greenbark and big pod ceanothus are both in bloom.  There was parry's phacelia, fuchsia flowering gooseberry and wishbone flower in bloom.  Sitting by the creek we saw newts.  On the way back we were serenaded by frogs.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Loop Trail

  Date: 3/6/06



        We are still seeing mostly light turnouts of many flowers, the notable exception being the several species of ceanothus which have all had a banner year. Highlights include bigpod, greenbark, hairy-leaved, and hoary-leaved ceanothus, California buckwheat, deerweed, two-tone everlasting, popcorn flower, morning glory, wild cucumber, a good number of prickly phlox, golden yarrow, the largely finished chaparral current, eastwood manzanita, shooting stars, purple nightshade, yellow cress, miner's lettuce, milkmaids, hillside gooseberry, California peony, and blue larkspur.

        I am frequently told by people that they particularly enjoy seeing the greenbark ceanothus blooming on this trail. In fact there is very little greenbark ceanothus on the Mishi Mokwa loop trail. The confusion arises because the much more plentiful hairy-leaved ceanothus can also have green bark and blue flowers.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair



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