Page Revised: 6/1/05


Available Sites

Topanga State Park
Point Mugu State Park
Circle X Ranch
Zuma/Trancas Canyons
Malibu Creek State Park
Lower Zuma Canyon

Date of Review

5/28/05 & 5/15/05 & 5/11/05
5/23/05 & 5/9/05

What's Blooming photo gallery:

What's Blooming archive:

Find Santa Monica Mountains wildflower walks:

Scenic drives:  1. Mulholland Hwy between Malibu Canyon and Cornell Rd.

                          2. Cornell Rd between Mulholland Hwy and Agoura Rd, especially from Cornell Way to Agoura Rd.


Topanga State Park

Musch Trail

 Date: 5/28/05



        The hike from Topanga State Park (off Entrada) to Eagle Rock via Musch Trail is spectacular right now. I have been going there since I was young and right now it’s a real treat.  This is a great hike when it’s socked in at the beach and you want a little sun. If you want a really nice hike, I would suggest going both ways on Musch trail and skip the fire road loop, going back down the way you came gives a completely different perspective.  It’s about 1.5 hour hike up to Eagle rock and a little less on the way back. I’d say it’s easy to moderate on the way up.  The views from the top of Eagle Rock are also spectacular. I’m not great at identifying flowers, but there’s the usual buckwheat, monkey flowers, yucca, and golden yarrow.  (MF)


Naturalist's rating: Very Good


Point Mugu State Park /

Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa to the Upper Sycamore Canyon waterfall

 Date: 5/26/05



        This 3-mile round trip starts out in rolling meadows of non-native "grasses-gone-by" with a few wildflower patches (tarweed, CA poppies). Once you head into the upper canyon, however, the hillside is covered in color: caterpillar phacelia, deerweed, ashy-leaf and California buckwheat, black sage, bush mallow, yucca, silver puffs, chamise, laurel sumac, chicory, and toyon. Particularly brilliant were patches of heartleaf penstemon (red), speckled clarkia (pink), bush monkey flower (peach), and soap lilies (white star-flowers that open in late afternoon).

        At the bottom of the shady canyon, some silver lupine was still in bloom along with a few giant Humboldt lilies. Crossing the creek and heading to the waterfall, the riparian area had some good-sized canyon sunflower bushes and scattered coast figwort, hedge nettle, blackberry, and a lone chaparral pea (the uncommon one). At the base of the waterfall, the rare round-leaved boykinia was flowering below a big patch of giant chain-fern.

        With the creek and falls still running well, this walk (and its extension downstream) should be nice for another month. Upper Sycamore Canyon is also known for its abundance of nesting birds, especially flycatchers, and many are heard singing through summer. (JG)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Point Mugu State Park

Big Sycamore Canyon Trail (lower)

 Date: 5/26/05



        From Sycamore Cove, the first two miles of this road/trail are relatively flat, offering a easy stroll along the flowing creek. As this abundant wildflower year tapers off, less variety is seen but often in great profusion. Among the 20 or so species were robust clumps of purple sage, pink bush mallow, canyon sunflower, giant poison hemlock, golden yarrow, elderberry, blue verbena, white morning glory and jimson weed.

        Especially spectacular was a chaparral-covered hillside dotted with hundreds of huge yucca blooms and wide swaths of orange monkey flower. In the Santa Monicas, it's been an outstanding year for both and just keeps getting better. The hills directly adjacent to the ocean—the coastal sage scrub, or soft chaparral—appear to have the highest densities of yucca, our largest member of the lily family (not a cactus). Take care at the stone-step creek crossings and watch for whizzing mountain-bikers. ( JG)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Malibu Creek State Park

Tapia Spur Trail

 Date: 5/23/05



        Wildflowers are excellent along the Tapia spur trail which connects Malibu Creek State Park to Tapia Park. If you are in the mood for a picnic and beautiful flowers, drive into the picnic area at Tapia Park. The slopes there are covered with flowers. We parked near the Salvation Army gate and started hiking the one mile trail. The slopes are covered with golden yarrow, chamise, purple and black sages. We only covered about half the trail and saw 50 species. Highlights were the masses of canchalagua (rose colored stars with creamy centers) at the beginning of the trail and all of the clarkias – purple, speckled and elegant scattered all over. Along the way were willow herb clarkia, popcorn flowers and caterpillar phacelia. The unusual (and hard to see) buckwheat, eriogonum citheraforme with its looping stems is in bloom on the steep rocky slope that is also covered with spent seed pods of chia, yellow pincushion, coulter’s lupine and yucca. This trail is well worth going to. It has great variety of very interesting flowers, intensity of color and almost complete flower coverage. (SB)


Naturalist's rating: Very Good to Excellent


Circle X Ranch

Backbone Trail

 Date: 5/23/05



        This is my report of the blooms which we encountered on the hike on the Backbone Trail between the Sandstone Peak trailhead and the vicinity of Tri-peaks on 5/23/05. I recorded 88 species identified excluding the grasses and would rate the hike as very good. Highlights to me include the 9 species seen or identified for the first time. These include Calif filago, small-flowered flax, wind poppy, wild brodiaea, phlox-leaved bedstraw, rattlesnake weed, yellow-throated phacelia and the subsequently identified downy monkey flower. Though our main objective on the hike was to see the rein orchids in bloom, we were still too early, but did spot over a dozen readying themselves to bloom in the next few weeks.  Other blooms seen in their color categories, starting with white and cream were Calif buckwheat, chamise, popcorn flower, prickly popcorn flower, yucca, white pincushion, morning glory, Calif chicory, Calif everlasting, cliff aster, Catalina Mariposa lily, big pod ceanothus, eucrypta, willow-herb Clarkia, star lily, white pitcher sage, elderberry, hollyleaf cherry, bur chervil, white nightshade, red skin onion, and large flowered popcorn flower.

        Other yellow/golden flowers seen were hedge mustard, deerweed, yellow star thistle, golden yarrow, slender tarweed, sticky madia, sow thistle, yellow monkey flower, yellow Mariposa lily, golden star, mustard evening primrose, slender bedstraw, bush monkey flower, small evening primrose, strigose lotus, fiddleneck, silver puff, rock rose, Chile lotus, annual cats ear, common groundsel, yellow pincushion, coastal lotus, coast goldfield, Southern tauschia, and slimy monkey flower.

        Violet/blues included redstem filaree, black sage, purple Clarkia, blue dick, large flowered phacelia, caterpillar phacelia, fern leaf phacelia, Bajada lupine, purple nightshade, wooly blue curls, globe gilia, speckled Clarkia, sticky phacelia, Chinese houses, branching phacelia, prickly phlox, peninsular onion, hairy leaf ceanothus, blue larkspur, tomcat clover, yerba santa, and angels gilia.

         Red/pink colors were represented by Turkish rugging, owl's clover, scarlet pimpernel and windmill pink. Others seen were giant rye, curly dock, lance leaf live forever, slender cotton weed, and several tiny unidentified yellow flowers apparently of the evening primrose and lotus families. Many Calif whiptail lizards were encountered and one bobcat was seen when driving to the trailhead.  (RWM)


Naturalist's rating: Very Good


Topanga State Park

Temescal Ridge Trail /
Dead Horse Trail

 Date: 5/15/05



        The Temescal Ridge trail is kind of a hot and dry hike but the reward is seeing Braunton's milk vetch, a lovely plant that is quite uncommon.  The other blooming plants are California buckwheat, golden yarrow, deerweed, yucca, sticky monkey flower, caterpillar phacelia, eucrypta, canyon sunflower, purple nightshade and elder flower.  There were lots of butterflies including brilliant sulfers.  We saw one rattlesnake.

        Starting in the Dead Horse parking lot off of Entrada Rd.  This is a fairly short but interesting trail that alternates between chaparral and woodland.  At the start there is a lot of yellow: Golden stars, golden yarrow and chaparral yucca.  There are a few remaining butterfly mariposa lilies and blue dicks.  There is California buckwheat, elegant clarkia, vervain, globe gilia, and caterpillar phacelia.  Heart leaf penstemon is making its first appearance.  There is a gorgeous stand of hummingbird sage that is still blooming.  Soon you come to a bridge that is high above a flowing creek, a nice place to stop and rest.  Continuing on there is morning glory, California chicory, a little greenbark ceanothus, purple nightshade, woolly blue curls, popcorn flower, black sage, sticky monkey flower chamise, deerweed, canyon sunflower and fiesta flower.  I saw my first slender tarweed of the season.  As you walk along a meadow watch for deer and bobcats.  There is spring vetch, blue eyed grass, elder flower and California everlasting.  The trail ends by the pond at Trippet Ranch, a good place to launch onto further hikes or return as you came.  I always see more things on the return trip.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Zuma Canyon

Backbone Trail

 Date: 5/12/05



        On 5/12/05 we hiked along the Backbone Trail from the Newton Trailhead to the Upper Zuma Falls and returned. A rating of very good is given for the variety (95) and quantity of flowering species observed. Starting at the trailhead we immediately encountered elderberry, hedge mustard, red stem filaree, bur clover, sour clover and sow thistle, the usual suspects. Spanish broom provided lots of color as did greenbark ceanothus, black sage, toyon, bush monkey flower and Italian thistle. Bur chervil, slender bedstraw, chamise and windmill pinks were abundantly present as were speckled Clarkia, miner's lettuce, deerweed, Calif. buckwheat and minute flowered popcorn flower. The small of tomcat clover to the tall of Chaparral yucca were present. Sticky Madia, Calif. everlasting, lacepod, common bedstraw and eucrypta were next encountered along the trail. Numerous fiesta flowers and rigid hedge nettles provided more color along the way. Canyon sunflower, Calif. figwort, two-toned everlasting, Calif. chicory, pineapple weed, silver puff, London rocket, scarlet pimpernel and purple night shade were next observed. Curly dock, blue dick were accompanied by elegant Clarkia, Parry's phacelia, chia, bigpod ceanothus and several small stands of large flowered popcorn flower. The aptly named caterpillar phacelia as well as wishbone bush, mountain dandelion, fern leaf phacelia, horehound and several stands of Chinese houses, one group containing several plants with pure white flowers were seen. The bush lupines were in bloom and several groups of large flowered phacelia were spotted. Sugar bush, scarlet pitcher sage, checker bloom, blue larkspur, snow berry and holly leaf red berry were also exhibiting blossoms.

        It was especially exciting to find numerous large patches of globe lily all along the trail. In the past we had only spotted an occasional plant. We saw wild blackberry, golden yarrow, purple Clarkia, bull thistle, blue-eyed grass, snake root, horkelia, morning glory, yellow monkey flower, small evening primrose and Turkish rugging. A fair quantity of wooly blue curls were in bloom as were the star lily. A few prickly phlox, globe gilia, hillside penstemon and Catalina Mariposa lily were also in bloom. A special treat to me was the discovery of a small bush of speedwell in bloom, the first time I have seen it in the SM mountains. Slimy monkey flower put in its appearance as well as golden star, Indian pink, creek monkey flower, white pincushion, cliff aster and sticky phacelia. One nice stand of owl's clover was passed, Spanish clover was present and vervain made its appearance. The hike was concluded with the observation of tree tobacco and slender sunflower. Grasses identified along the way included golden top and soft brome. (RWM)


Naturalist's rating: Very Good


Topanga State Park

Nature Trail

 Date: 5/11/05



        The trail leaves the picnic area by the pond.  Immediately there are lots of fiesta flowers and miners lettuce along with quite a bit of poison oak.  Passing the nature center, the woods have a bit of purple nightshade but not much else.  But when you enter the chaparral portion there are morning glories, sticky monkey flower, bush lupine, deer weed, black sage, bush sunflower, California buckwheat and caterpillar phacelia which is now completely unrolled. There is vervain, California everlasting, chamise, white nightshade and golden yarrow.  Returning down the fire road there is a veritable wall of elegant clarkia growing on the road cut.  Returning to the nature center there are still golden stars and blue-eyed grass.  I saw an entire blooming meadow and stepped off the trail to investigate.  Endless Chinese houses, really spectacular. I also went a little way up the Musch Trail.  Not really enough to make a report but I went to the place where the geophytes always grow.  There is an amazing amount of purple owl's clover and the farewell-to-spring has started.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Circle X Ranch

Backbone Trail below Triunfo Peak

 Date: 5/9/05



        We began our hike at the Mishe Mokwa trailhead and walked east until intersecting the Triunfo Peak access road. We then took the access road toward the peak and then back down to the backbone tail to retrace our steps until intersecting Yerba Buena Road at about mile 7.6. We completed the loop by taking Yerba Buena back to the Mishe Mokwa trailhead, a total of about five miles. The trail has become quite grassy in places and the foxtails are beginning to be annoying. We encountered about 95 species in bloom although the lack of dense stands of flowers prevents a rating above good. Highlights include Woolly Blue Curls, Catalina Mariposa Lily, Blue Dick, Yucca, California Buckwheat, Chamise, Purple Clarkia, Willow-herb Clarkia, Black Sage, Scarlet Pimpernel, Golden Yarrow, Yellow Monkey Flower, Bush Monkey Flower, Lance-leaf Live-forever, Coast Goldfields, Golden Stars, Wild Morning Glory, Yellow Pincushion, White Pincushion, Red-skinned Onion, Peninsular Onion, Purple Nightshade, Fiesta Flower, Caterpillar Phacelia, Parry's Phacelia, Large-flowered Phacelia, Pitcher Sage, Mustard Evening Primrose, Bleeding Heart, Fire Poppy, Hedge Nettle, Canyon Sunflower, Chinese Houses, Star Lily, Sugar Bush, Rock Rose, Brewer's Red Maids, Sticky False Gilia, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Slender Tarweed, Bush Lupine, Blue-eyed Grass, Turkish Rugging, Birds Beak, Sticky Cinquefoil, Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry and Heart-leaved Penstemon.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Malibu Creek State Park

Crags Road /

Bulldog Road

 Date: 5/3/05



         The hike into Malibu Creek State Park from the west end (Crags Drive) to the MASH site and including the lower 3/4 mile of Bulldog Motorway is really lovely right now. As of  4/30 and 5/3, species blooming included purple clarkia (Clarkia purpurea), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia bottae), elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), globe gilia (Gilia capitata), chaparral gilia (Gilia angelensis), common linanthus (Linanthus parviflora), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), woolly morning glory (Calystegia malacophylla ssp. pedicellata), poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus), chinese houses (Collinsia heterophyllus), California milkweed (Asclepias californica), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capiatatum), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), owl's clover (Castilleja exserta), blue larkspur (Delphinium parryi ssp. parryi), spreading larkspur (Delphinium patens ssp. hepaticoideum), western vervain (Verbena lasiostachys var. lasiostachys), black sage (Salvia mellifera), crimson pitcher sage (Salvia spathacea), silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi), smooth cat's ear (Hypochaeris glabra), creek monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), sticky madia (Madia gracilis), hareleaf (Lagophyllum ramosissimum), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), broad-leaved lupine (Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius), bush lupine (Lupinus longifolius), scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), water speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica), slender cottonweed (Micropus californicus), golden stars (Bloomeria crocea), spring vetch (Vicia sativa), purple nightshade (Solanum xanti), fiesta flower (Pholistoma auritum), California chicory (Rafinesquia californica), caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria), rock phacelia (Phacelia egena), Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), deerweed (Lotus scoparius), yucca (Yucca whipplei), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), chamise (Adenostema fasciculatum), prickly phlox (Leptodactylon californicum), fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), fairy lanterns (Calochortus albus), catalina mariposa lilies (Calochortus catalinae), chia (Salvia columbariae), wild rose (Rosa californica), yellow pincushion (Chaenactis glabriuscula), canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides), california everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum), popcorn flower (Cryptantha intermedia), bur-chervil (Anthriscus caucalis), perennial peppergrass (Lepidium latifolium), buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), and many other things that I can't remember off-hand.  (MC)


Naturalist's rating: Very Good


Lower Zuma Canyon

Zuma Canyon Trail /

Zuma Loop Trail

 Date: 5/3/05



         The lower section of Zuma Canyon has a heavy burden of "weedy" non-native species. As you move out and up you begin to see more native species and a greater overall diversity of flowers. The Zuma Loop trail is better than the Zuma Canyon trail in this respect. Altogether about 80 different species encountered.

        Highlights include Elderberry, Bull Mallow, Milk Thistle, Nightshades, Coast Figwort, Sunflowers, Speedwell, Popcorn Flowers, Lupines, Monkey Flowers, Henbit, Hedge Nettle, Fiesta Flower, Blue Dick, California Buckwheat, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Red Bugler, Yucca, Wild Morning Glory, Yarrows, Indian Pink, Chamise, Cutleaf Geranium, Catalina Mariposa Lily, Indian Paintbrush, Blue-eyed Grass, Toyon, Purple Sage, Slender Tarweed, Locoweed, and Wild Sweet Pea.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating: Fair to Good




Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


Ph. 805-370-2301




Thank you


for your contributions:


Sheila Braden
Michael Charters
Burt Elliot
Matt Friedman
Jack Gillooly
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Robert W. Maughmer
Dorothy Steinicke
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408