Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Logo

Updated April 14th
Available Reviews
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
Point Mugu State park
SMM Visitor Center
Topanga State Park
Malibu Creek State Park
Corral Canyon
Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space
Circle X Ranch
Date of Review
3/22 & 3/8.

Quick Links:
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains - Photos of 1000 SMM plants.
Archive - Previous “What's Blooming” reports.
Outdoors - The Calendar of Events for the Santa Monica Mountains NRA.
Wildflowers Facebook - A place where people can share about flowers.
SMM WildFlowers - The Park's popular wildflower app for the iPhone/iPad.

         I hiked up the Old Boney Trail from Sycamore Canyon Road over into Serrano Valley yesterday and was surprised by how green some parts of it were. It reminded me of January in a more typical year: a lot of small green plants and a scattering of a flowers here and there. Unfortunately there were also signs of things drying up as well. It was probably the most flowers I'd seen so far this year but I must admit it was a lot of hiking to accumulate a pretty short list of plants. Some of the lushness was probably a result of post-burn green-up after last year's Springs Fire. The bulbs seem to be up in force this year even if the annuals are largely missing in action. Not that most of the bulbs are flowering, but they are up. I was on business so I couldn't stop and dawdle but it reminded me that there are alway trails worth looking at even in the midst of a historic drought. My guess is that most of what I saw will be gone in a few weeks but it was invigorating to see this modest display in an otherwise poor year.
         The rain a month ago eased the drought a bit but it is still a long way from being over. Only a week after that rain the winds were picking up huge clouds of dust from the dirt parking lot here, something you would never see in a more typical March. The ground was dry as a bone and most of the water has disappeared into that vacuum literally without a trace. Similarly, the creeks are still not running, another sign that a mere 6" of rain does end a severe drought. People are reporting that the rain has triggered some of the perennials into flower. For example, the wild cucumber is beginning to look pretty good but it is late in the season for that plant. You might check the coast for the giant coreopsis, and some of the ground flowers in the meadows have picked up as well, but nothing spectacular. It looks like we can't expect much from the annuals this year. The saddest thing is seeing how many large old trees have died. If we have to cut down many more trees I'm afraid the campground here at CXR is going to look pretty barren by the end of the year. There is still a possibility of rain but the weather people are calling it "late season" when they talk about it. Keep your fingers crossed and let me know what you see.  ‑ ed.

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
Sara Wan Trail (Corral Canyon Trail)
         This is a gorgeous hike for views of the ocean and some of the Channel Islands. There is a signed trail entrance on PCH and also one from the parking lot shared with Malibu Seafood. It is about half a mile south of Corral Canyon Road and traverses the south slope of lower Corral Canyon. The trail itself is only about a 2 mile loop. Things are starting to green up but there is still not much in the way of flowers. There was telegraph weed, Indian paintbrush, wild cucumber and wild morning glory and none of them in any abundance. We did see two gopher snakes, or possibly the same snake both coming and going.  ‑ Dorothy Steinicke

Point Mugu State Park
La Jolla Canyon Trail to the (dry) pond
         The stars of the day were the fairly abundant Wild Cucumber and Blue Dicks. In addition, there were a few of the following: Datura (2), Wild Morning Glory, Giant Coreopsis, Locoweed, Deer Weed, Bladder Pod, Black Mustard, Ashy Leaf Buckwheat, Southern Tauschia, Coastal Lotus, Hedge Nettle (1), Yellow Sweet Clover (1), Woolly Paint Brush, Wild Sweet Pea (1), Broad-leaved Lupine (1), Mule Fat, Common Eucrypta, Minute-flowered Popcorn, Tobacco Tree (1) and Pacific Sanicle (1).  ‑ John & Barbara Goldthwait

Point Mugu State Park
Across the road from Thornhill Broome Beach
         We saw several Beach Evening Primrose and Giant Coreopsis, a few Bladder Pods, one Sea Rocket, a few Slender Sunflowers, a few San Diego Popcorn Flowers and a few Croton.  ‑ John & Barbara Goldthwait

SMM Visitor Center
         The Santa Monica Mountains Inter-Agency Visitor Center at 26876 Mulholland Highway in Calabasas has a fair display of flowers in it's garden. There are quite a few native iris, as well as blue-eyed grass, foothill penstemon, California poppies, and hummingbird sage. Larger shrubs such as, golden current, Rhus trilobata, bush poppy and elderberry combine to make a fair amount of blue and gold. We also saw heuchera and some manzanita. The garden does get some supplementary water which accounts for this nice showing.  ‑ Sheila Braden 

Topanga State Park
Trippet Ranch toward Parker Mesa Overlook
         We saw a few of all of the following: California Buttercup, Common Eucrypta, Miner's Lettuce, Black Sage, Deer Weed, Wild Morning Glory, Green Bark Ceanothus, Red Stem Filaree, California Buckwheat, Mexican Elderberry, California Everlasting, Tree poppy, Prickly Phlox, California Bay Laurel, Big Pod Ceanothus, Wishbone and Wild Cucumber.  ‑ John & Barbara Goldthwait

Malibu Creek State Park
Backbone Trail
         Today’s hike was the sixth leg of the 2014 National Park Service Backbone Trail Hike. We are hiking west to east covering two segments per month. Today we hiked from the Saddle Peak trailhead to the Piuma trailhead. This is typically a damp area with the highest species diversity of our 8 segments ranging from 60 to 100 in counts. However, drought conditions persist. Our list of flowers is very short and most of these were very sparse: bush monkey flower, mule fat, wild cucumber, hillside gooseberry, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, walnut, willow, prickly phox, telegraph weed, bush poppy, sage brush, and California laurel.  ‑ Ralph and others 

Corral Canyon to about halfway to Latigo Canyon
Backbone Trail
         We saw Chamise, several Red Stem Filaree, two Chaparral Current, many Wild Cucumber and Winter Cress. However, the star of the show was Milk Maids, of which there were great many, about as much in a 'normal' year.  ‑ John & Barbara Goldthwait

Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space
         Chris and I hiked six miles in the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve today hoping that things might be popping up a week after the rain. No such luck. The sum total of our flower sightings were elderberry blossoms (a couple dozen), Indian paintbrush (2) and bush mallow (1 single blossom at the very top of a bush). So that was discouraging. However it was nice to see the new leaves on the valley oaks. We also saw our first rattlesnake of the season, lots of hawks and a coyote.  ‑ Dorothy Steinicke 

Malibu Creek State Park
Backbone Trail
         Today’s hike was the fifth leg of the 2014 National Park Service Backbone Trail Hike. We are hiking west to east covering about two segments per month. Today we hiked from the Latigo Trailhead to the Tapia Trailhead in Malibu Creek State Park. The effects of the drought continue to be very evident. Our list of flowers is very short and most of these were very sparse. Deer weed, bush poppy, dove lupine, bush lupine, wild cucumber, buckwheat, mustard, monkey flower, and California everlasting.  ‑ Ralph and others 

Circle X Ranch
Backbone Trail
         Today’s hike was the third leg of the 2014 National Park Service Backbone Trail Hike. We are hiking west to east covering about two segments per month. Today we hiked from the Mishe Mokwa trailhead at Circle X Ranch to Encinal Road. The effects of the drought continue to be very evident. Our list of flowers is very short and most of these were very sparse. Deer weed, slender sunflower, coyote bush, telegraph weed, mule fat, wild cucumber, chaparral currant, California everlasting, felt-leaf everlasting.  ‑ Ralph and others 

Contact Information:

Santa Monica Mountains NRA
401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

If you would like to contribute a wildflower
report you can e-mail the editor at:
or phone Tony at the CXR office 310-457-6408

What's Blooming
on the web at

or go to
click on "Things to Do"
and "Look for Wildflowers"

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