Page Revised: 4/16/07


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch

Rancho Sierra Vista

Triunfo Canyon Park

Leo Carrillo State Park

Rancho Sierra Vista

Point Mugu State Park

Cheeseboro & Palo Comado Cyns

Malibu Creek State Park

Zuma & Trancas Canyons


Date of Review

4/16/07 & 4/14/07 & 4/9/07 & 3/24/07.










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



Circle X Ranch

Ceanothus update

  Date: 4/16/07



        Just a very quick update for the ceanothus lovers in the crowd.  The ceanothus season is winding down. You can still find individuals blooming, especially in sheltered environments, but the big displays are over for the year.  Overall the flower season this year remains poor compared to other years we’ve had recently.  (TV)


Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa

Native plant garden

  Date: 4/15/07



        Few wildflowers are blooming throughout the mountains because of our apparent drought, but for a short wildflower walk, consider the native plant garden at Rancho Sierra Vista when you visit the Satwiwa Native American Center or hike another trail in the area. True, the garden does get water, but it has lots of blooms of bladderpod, vervain, black sage, golden currant, monkey flower and purple nightshade. The prickly pear cactus has lots of red fruits and the native onions are flowering. The walk is short, but the flower rating is very good. (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Circle X Ranch

Triunfo Backbone Trail

  Date: 4/14/07



        This past weekend the NPS sponsored hike of the backbone trail did the section at Circle X Ranch between the Sandstone Peak trailhead and the trailhead at about mile marker 9 on Yerba Buena Road.  This four mile section is one of the newest but is finally getting old enough that some of the pioneering species like the phacelias, bleeding hearts and fire poppies are no longer quite so profuse.  This trail is especially good for views of the ocean since so much of it is on high, steep, South facing hillsides.  Although we did not do the side trail up to Triunfo Peak, that would normally be on my itinerary for this hike. The view on top of Triunfo is almost as good as from Sandstone Peak.

        We had a very large group this time with over thirty participants.  Many of us were quite interested in flowers so we stopped often and discussed the flowers we encountered.  We also had a couple of geologists along and enjoyed hearing about the physical landscape.  It was a perfect day and even the shortage of flowers didn’t dampen people’s spirits.  The quantities of flowers were quite low due to the very dry conditions.  Interestingly enough, we are still seeing reasonably typical species counts, rather, it is the number of individuals of any given species that is often very low.  We encountered almost seventy different species in bloom which is close to the about ninety or so I might expect to see on this trail.  Highlights include ceanothus, purple nightshade, star lily, fuchsia flowered gooseberry, wild cucumber, bush monkey flower, blue dicks, wild morning glory, popcorn flower, Parry’s phacelia, mustard evening primrose, bush lupine, wishbone bush, rock rose, sunflowers, woolly blue curls, prickly phlox, hedge nettle, chinese houses, blue larkspur, small-flowered meconella, fiesta flower, yellow pincushion, red-skinned onion, purple clarkia, and deerweed.  You should keep in mind that many of the flowers I’ve listed here were present only in very low numbers.  It would be easy to hike this tail and miss seeing many of them unless you were keeping a careful watch.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Mostly Poor with some Fair sections


Triunfo Canyon Park

Southwest end near the Reservoir

  Date: 4/12/07



        We didn’t have time to hike the Pentachaeta Trail on this outing but did a quick loop up to the Las Virgenes Reservoir and back.  While everything looks unusually dry we did see some nice flowers. The highlight is always seeing the endangered Lyon’s pentachaeta and we were not disappointed as we ran into a number of small populations on the social trails leading up to the reservoir.  We also encountered California poppy, chaparral flowering ash, blue eyed grass, blue dicks, ground pink, good numbers of the small white linanthus,  a few golden yarrow, wild cucumber, woolly blue curls, popcorn flowers, a couple of owl clover, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, Johnny jump-up, the delightful cream cups, some lupine, fiesta flower, purple clarkia, and coast goldfields.  All told about forty species in bloom.  By the way, I’ve heard that the pentachaeta trail is doing OK this year too.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Loop

  Date: 4/9/07



        We did the loop clockwise on April 7, (going to Sandstone Peak before Split Rock).  I had low flower expectations on this hike.  I did it a month ago and there wasn't much in bloom and there hasn't been any rain since.  To my surprise things are blooming quite nicely.  Some things, larkspur and saxifrage, actually seem to be doing better than in average years. 

        At the Sandstone Peak trailhead there is lots of blooming deerweed.  It accompanies you up the steep climb along with some black sage and California everlasting.  As you get closer to the peak there is a lot of prickly phlox and hoary leaf ceanothus along with popcorn flower, blue dick, purple nightshade, sticky monkey flower, wild cucumber, shiny lomatium, chaparral current and Eastwood manzanita.

        From Sandstone Peak to Split Rock the padres shooting stars have finished blooming (and a month ago they hadn't even put up stems) there is some owl's clover, collarless poppies, larkspur, goldfields and common fiddleneck. 

        Climbing up from Split Rock flowers seem to be in their own distinct patches.  First there is a small gathering of milkmaids, then saxifrage, then mountain phacelia.  Then you come on the beautiful view of a red rock mountainside covered in the lovely blue hairy leaf ceanothus with cream colored virgin's bower spilling over the top of it.  In this area the trail and surrounding stones are all dusted with a layer of tiny blue flowers.  Back at the top there are some parry's phacelia, mustard evening primrose and woolly blue curls.  No chocolate lilies yet.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

  Date: 4/8/07



        Heading out from the group campsite there are common fiddleneck, greenbark ceanothus, wild cucumber, purple nightshade, California everlasting, big pod ceanothus and black sage. 

        There is no water at all in the first stream crossing and the second crossing is low.  However patient observation showed that there are newts in the water.  A good sign. 

        Up the hill to the meadow there is incredibly vivid and plentiful larkspur, Chinese houses, fiesta flowers, popcorn flower, and star lily. 

        In the meadow there is blue eyed grass and vetch in great abundance.  Also wild morning glory, sticky monkey flower and blue dicks.  Heading down to the grotto there are wishbone flower, mustard evening primrose, deerweed, virgin's bower, canyon sunflower and mountain mahogany. 

        It seems that this dry year has been favorable to star lilies, there are more than I recall from past years. 

         The January freeze did dramatic damage to many of the laurel sumac who now stand out with their dead orange leaves.  But a closer examination shows a profusion of new sprouts bursting out of their branches much like oaks after a fire.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Leo Carrillo State Park

Willow Creek and Nicholas Flat Trails 

  Date: 4/4/07



        From the trailhead near the entrance station to Leo Carrillo State Park, we took the Willow Creek Trail to the right and hiked up to the junction with the Nicholas Flat Trail and back down that trail, making it a 3mile loop. It was Spring Break and the campground was full. We passed several hikers on the trail.

        The highpoint of the hike literally and also from a flower sighting standpoint was near the trail junction. We saw a couple groupings of fresh Scarlet Buglers, not a very common sight in these mountains. In terms of quantity of flowers, the Wishbone Bush, Indian Paintbrush, Minute Popcorn Flower, Blue Dick, Red-Stem Filaree and both the California and Two-Tone Everlastings were most obvious. Tiny flowered Spurge always like the type of decomposing shale soil found here. Not far from the start of the Willow Creek Trail, on the south side, is a beautiful, large Bladder Pod dripping with pods and flowers. The expected Deerweed, Santa Barbara Locoweed, Popcorn Flower, Black Mustard, Morning Glory, Narrow-Leaved Bedstraw, Wild Sweet Pea, Yellow Sweet Clover and Sunflower were evident, but in smaller quantities than usual in a normal rain year. We saw a few blooming Greenbark Ceanothus and Lemonade Berry, and a few Mustard Evening Primrose among some Parry’s Phacelia and California Poppies. Near the entrance to the campground we saw Wild Elderberry and Mule Fat flowering.  (BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Loop Trail

  Date: 3/25/07



        On March 25th, we hiked the Satwiwa loop at Rancho Sierra Vista.  Both ponds were dried up!  Flowers that were present were small in number.  The highlight was seeing  Padre's shooting stars.   Peony had just finished.  My list: morning glory, California everlasting, California poppy, fiddleneck, wild cucumber, ceanothus, wild radish, black mustard, blue dick, slender tarweed, filaree, locoweed, vetch, and purple nightshade.  (KJ)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak Trail

  Date: 3/24/07



        This trail is usually not the best around for flowers but in compensation more than makes up for it by taking you to the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains.  The views are unobstructed and on a clear day you can easily see San Clemente seventy miles out to sea or the snow on Old Baldy eighty mile to the East. The ceanothus is the flowering shrub to see right now.  While the bigpod ceanothus is winding down there are still many individuals dotting the landscape with their whitish to purplish blossoms. For me the prize is the hairy-leaved ceanothus with its tight purple clusters of many small blossoms. It is easy to see why some people call this shrub the “chaparral lilac.”  As you climb higher toward the peak the bigpod and hairy-leaved give way to the whiter hoary-leaved ceanothus which is also beginning to bloom nicely on this trail.  The other flowers worth noting are prickly phlox, wild cucumber, deerweed, chaparral current, purple nightshade and Eastwood manzanita.  Otherwise we saw very few flowers, both in terms of variety and quantity.  All told only a little over two dozen different flower species were seen in bloom.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa loop

  Date: 3/23/07



        Here's one for the Circle X area.  We hiked the Mishe Mokwa / Backbone loop on March 23 and saw the following in bloom: Big-pod, Hoary-leaved, and Hairy-leaved Ceanothus, Peonies with buds, Prickly Phlox, Deer Weed, Chaparral Currant, Shooting Stars, Woolly Lomatium, Blue Dick, Wild Cucumber, Eastwood Manzanita, Coastal Lotus, Popcorn Flower. (BS)


Naturalist's rating:  NR


Point Mugu State Park

La Jolla Canyon

  Date: 3/23/07



        From Ray Miller Trailhead - La Jolla Canyon trail through La Jolla Valley and return via the Backbone trail.  The Giant Coreopsis in La Jolla Canyon are almost in full bloom.  Most plants had 3/4's of their buds open.  Another week and they should be at their peak.  We also saw copious amounts of Blue Dick and Indian Paintbrush throughout the hike.  Other flowers in bloom were: Scarlet Pimpernel, Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, Shooting Stars, Red Stem Filaree, Turkish Rugging, Parry's Phacelia, Fiesta Flower, Wild Cucumber, Purple Nightshade, Lemonade Berry, Buckwheat, Everlasting, Morning Glory, Hedge Nettle, Greenbark Ceanothus, Buck-Brush, Blue Eyed Grass, Tree Tobacco, Bladder Pod, California Poppy, Collarless California Poppy, Coast Wallflower, Mustard, Deerweed, Santa Barbara Locoweed, Bush Sunflower and Chaparral Currant.  At Thornhill-Broome Beach across Hwy 1 from the trailhead we observed Pink Sand Verbena.  (R&AT)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Cheeseboro & Palo Comado Canyons

Misc. Trails in the Burn Area

  Date: 3/21/07



        Here is the list Kendra compiled from the Wednesday's burn area scoping survey.  Species: Amsinckia menziesii, Arctostaphylos glandulosa, Baccharis salicifolia, Calandrinia sp., Calystegia macrostegia, Camissonia californica, Castilleja foliolosa, Ceanothus crassifolius, Cryptantha muricata, Dendromecon rigida, Encelia californica, Eriogonum cinereum, Erodium botrys, Erodium cicutarium, Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia, Helianthemum scoparium, Heterotheca grandiflora, Hirschfeldia incana, Hordeum murinum, Juncus bufonius, Leptodactylon californicum, Lessingia filaginifolia, Lotus strigosus, Marah macrocarpus, Medicago polymorpha, Melilotus indicus, Mimulus aurantiacus, Mirabilis californica, Muhlenbergia microsperma, Nolina cismontana, Paeonia californica, Pectocarya linearis, Pedicularis densiflora, Phacelia parryi, Plagiobothrys canescens, Polypogon monspeliensis, Ribes indecorum, Salix lasiolepis, Salvia columbariae, Schismus arabicus, Solanum xanti, Tauschia arguta.  (KS & TS)


Naturalist's rating:  NR


Malibu Creek State Park

Phantom Trail

  Date: 3/14/07



        I was on the Phantom Trail (northern Malibu Creek SP, north of Mulholland) earlier this week (Wednesday, to be specific), and I saw a lot of Indian Paintbrush in bloom.  Not certain of the exact species, but it is bright cardinal in color, one in which the style extrudes itself out of the flower tube.  There are also California poppies coming out on the ridge, as well as a fair amount of ceanothus in bloom, and not big-pod, either, in both white and 'blue'.  Naturally, poison oak is beginning to put out buds in many areas.  I also saw willow in bloom, but can't remember exactly where - been all over, trying to get out a lot before the weather gets too hot - just that it wasn't on the Phantom Trail, of course.  I also saw a few very small, deep purple-with-a-hint-of-red flowers that had a vague resemblance to native geraniums (not the horticultural ones) on the southern Phantom Trail ridge.  A "belly flower" that require getting on your stomach to really see,  (JC)


Naturalist's rating:  NR


Zuma and Trancas Canyons

backbone trail

  Date: 3/10/07



        Saturday, 3/10, we walked from Kanan to Mulholland crossing the upper watersheds of Zuma and Trancas Canyons. The following were blooming (they're listed in no particular order.)  big-pod ceanothus, greenbark ceanothus, man-root, purple nightshade, California everlasting, chaparral currant, fuchsia-flowered, gooseberry, Indian warrior, milkmaids, hoary-leafed ceanothus, walnut, California poppy, deerweed, mule fat, California buckwheat, hummingbird sage, morning glory, four o'clock, coyote bush, telegraph weed, slender sunflower, Parry's phacelia, sticky monkey flower.  The big pod was outstanding.  A lot of everlasting, chaparral currant, man root and nightshade.  Everything else was sparse.  (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


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




Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




Thank you


for your contributions:



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

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408