Page Revised: 6/03/06


Available Sites

Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Cyns
Circle X Ranch
Upper Solstice Canyon
Point Mugu State park
Rancho Sierra Vista
Topanga State Park
Cold Creek Preserve
Malibu Creek State Park
Zuma/Trancas Cyns vicinity

Date of Review

5/31/06 & 4/28/06.
5/24/06 & 5/20/06.
5/3/06 & 4/19/06.

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


Cheeseboro &

Palo Comado Canyons

Various north-end trails

  Date: 6/1/06



        We are now moving away from the dramatic early Spring flowering season and into the more subdued displays of the drier seasons. Many of the flowers reported earlier are now on the way out but in compensation we begin to see some of the very beautiful flowers that appear later. Among these are the clarkias and lilies, several of which are now showing up in the north end of Cheeseboro. Trails visited include the Albertson Motorway, Palo Comado Canyon Trail, Sheep Corral Trail, Cheeseboro Ridge Trail, and Cheeseboro Canyon 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, 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 has not been fully reopened 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 and Cheeseboro Canyon Trail and most of the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail were quite disappointing, but as these trails reach their Northern ends we begin to see good numbers of several different species of wildflowers. The vicinity of the intersection of Sheep Corral Trail and Palo Comado Trails was quite good at least until we dropped back down into the depths of the burn. It is interesting to see how some of the burned 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 the year progresses. Similarly, sections of the Albertson Motorway vary considerably, but none as bad as the weed choked lower end of the unit. Many of the species blooming earlier in the season have finished up for the year or are only lightly represented now. Highlights include lupines, paintbrush, purple nightshade, blue dick, primroses, popcorn flower, monkey flowers, morning glory, and phacelias. The sages are doing very well now as are the mariposa lilies, sunflowers, datura, pincushions, golden stars, hooked navarretia, sapphire wool stars, Rein orchid, yarrow and even a few early scarlet larkspur.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor to Good


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

  Date: 5/31/06



        We are now moving away from the dramatic early Spring flowering season and into the more subdued displays of the drier seasons. As such, the shady area near the Grotto becomes a lot more attractive as it gets hotter. The creek and falls still have a lot of water in them and the tadpoles and newts are a delight for the young among us. When I was down among the huge live oaks one of my favorites, the wren, was singing up a storm. Many of the flowers reported earlier are now on the way out but in compensation we are beginning to see some of the very beautiful flowers that appear later in the season. Among these are the clarkias and lilies, several of which are now showing up on the Grotto Trail. In addition, right now we are getting a pretty amazing second bloom of the greenbark ceanothus. Indeed, it rivals a first bloom of some previous years. Including the flowers encountered on the dirt road leading down to the campgrounds we saw a respectable seventy species in bloom. Highlights included golden yarrow, sugar bush, several different monkey flowers, California buckwheat. deerweed, yucca, black sage, sunflowers, chamise, white and purple nightshades, a few early woolly asters, elegant and purple clarkias, wild morning glory, California blackberry, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, red skinned onion, chinese houses, angels gilia, lance-leaf dudleya, elderberry, Catalina mariposa lily, heart-leaved penstemon, and crimson pitcher sage.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Upper Solstice Canyon

Backbone Trail

  Date: 5/24/06



        Backbone Trail from Corral Canyon Rd. toward Castro Crest

        This is a perfect hike to see chaparral recovering from fire and to see flowers that are seldom seen except after fires.  The hillside is covered with the blackened skeletons of burnt shrubs.  Underneath is a carpet of flowers.  Twining snapdragon, small evening primrose, fern leaf phacelia and the impressive large flower phacelia spread for as far as the eye can see.  There are also wild cucumber, eucrypta and monkey flower.  A bit further along the trail these flowers are joined by whispering bells, Brewer's red maids and globe gilia.  There are a few collarless poppies here and there. Also blue dicks, mariposa lilies and mustard evening primrose.

        When you cross out of the burned area you have an excellent opportunity to see what the flora would look like had it not burned.  Here there are flowering yucca, California buckwheat, sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, golden yarrow, wild morning glory, bush sunflower, chamise, popcorn flower and California everlasting.  There are also wooly blue curls, lots of rock rose, caterpillar phacelia, purple clarkia and red skinned onion growing in a flowing creek.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Newton and Upper Solstice Canyons

Backbone Trail

  Date: 5/20/06



        Backbone Trail Sections including Kanan Road to Latigo Canyon Road and crossing over Latigo Canyon Road and continuing to the end of Corral Canyon Road through Upper Solstice Canyon.

        This hike was a make-up of the fifth of the 2005-2006 Backbone Trail NPS Series.  The originally scheduled hike was rained out on March 11th and rescheduled.  For the wildflower enthusiast, the rescheduled hike was a blessing in disguise as we encountered at least 94 flowering plants.  The weather began overcast, but soon cleared to sunny conditions.  The total hike distance was approximately 6.5 miles.

        Starting at the overflow parking area just north of the main Kanan Road trailhead we went down to the main Backbone Trail junction and proceeded south towards the Newton Canyon waterfalls.  From the parking area we noticed black mustard, Spanish broom, sticky monkey flower, deer weed, yucca, tree tobacco, yellow sweet clover, milk thistle, big pod ceanothus, chicory, black sage, chamise, and red-stemmed filaree.  Once on the trail we spotted caterpillar phacelia, purple nightshade, popcorn flower, scarlet pimpernel, greenbark ceanothus, wishbone bush, windmill pink, eucrypta, heart leafed penstemon, sugar bush, California everlasting, parry's phacelia, wild cucumber, figwort, miner's lettuce, fiesta flower, hedge nettle, canyon sunflower, bur-chervil, snowberry, holly leafed cherry, willow-herb clarkia, purple clarkia, blue larkspur, horehound, and golden yarrow.

        As the trail emerged from Newton Canyon we continued up and over the tunnel and east towards Latigo Canyon Road.  Along the way we identified mountain mahogany, cobweb thistle, Indian paintbrush, elderberry, California buckwheat, coulter's lupine, vervain, chinese houses, bedstraw, chia, bush lupine, sticky cinquefoil, scarlet pitcher sage, blue-eyed grass, wild hyacinth, canyon pea, mariposa lily, purple sage, dove lupine, coast live oak, coffee berry, California black walnut, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, morning glory, woodland stars, slender sunflower, globe gilia, and foothill penstemon.

        Crossing Latigo Canyon Road we noted bush poppy, Indian pink, milkmaids, elegant clarkia, stinging lupine, poison oak, wooly blue curls, yellow monkey flower, rock rose, long-beaked filaree, common groundsel, and fern-leaved phacelia.  Continuing down into Upper Solstice Canyon we observed tomcat clover, scarlet bugler, blackberry, collarless poppy, red-skinned onion, globe lily, twining snapdragon, star lily, skullcap, Turkish rugging.  Just before the end of the trail at the top of Corral Canyon Road we entered a recently burned area covered with large flowered phacelia, coastal lotus, red maids, and small evening primrose.  (GS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Point Mugu State park

Various south-west corner trails

  Date: 5/19/06



        We started at the Chumash trailhead and hiked up the steep hill to the Mugu Peak trail and then to the La Jolla Valley Loop trail and finally down to the coast on the La Jolla Canyon trail. We had a friend drop us off at the Chumash trailhead so that we could walk back to the car we left at the La Jolla Trailhead. This avoids the two mile hike along PCH between these two trailheads. In paces we ran into both wood ticks and mosquitoes so protective clothing and perhaps repellent might be a good idea. These trails are narrow and poison oak is right along the edge of the trail in several places. If you are not familiar with it you might want to bring a friend who is. As with most trails that pass through multiple ecosystems there was a good variety of flowers, almost a hundred different in bloom, some in good quantities. Highlights include wild morning glory, giant coreopsis, canyon sunflower, Indian paintbrush, bush monkey flower, creek monkey flower, scarlet monkey flower, deerweed, bush mallow, black sage, purple sage, scarlet pitcher sage, yarrow, golden yarrow, cliff aster, Catalina mariposa lily, blue-eyed grass, yucca, oxalis, lance-leaf live-forever, wishbone bush, blue dicks, Southern California locoweed, Parry's phacelia, caterpillar phacelia, both bigpod ceanothus and greenbark ceanothus in a second bloom, bladderpod, Coulter's lupine, bush lupine, purple and white nightshade, chinese houses, golden stars, blue larkspur, Indian pink, hedge nettle, elderberry, Carolina geranium, snowberry, California blackberry, sticky cinquefoil, California figwort, gumplant, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, willow-herb clarkia, farewell-to-spring, and California loosestrife.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Garden

  Date: 5/14/06



        There is a nice display of wildflowers at the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa Native Plant Garden. You can see creek monkey flower (yellow with red spots), sticky monkey flower, onions, golden currant (berries), fuchsia flowered gooseberry (berries), all three sages (black, purple and white) and hummingbird sage too. Lots of native grasses are in the fenced area which protects them from the native rabbits. At the beginning of the garden path are bladderpod, both yellow and white yarrow and lots of prickly pear cactus (both flowers and fruits).  The little garden path has a lot of flowers to see, plus (on weekends) you can visit the beautiful artwork display at the Satwiwa Culture Center. Of course, on any day you can come and walk around the area or walk onto the Satwiwa loop trail and see fields of non native mustard (yellow) and radish (pink, white and rose) as well as the flowers of purple vetch sticking up among them.  (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Topanga State Park

Hondo Canyon &

Topanga Meadows

  Date: 5/11/06



        The creek runs right alongside Old Topanga Rd.  Find rocks to scramble across on and the trail takes you up to a meadow that is filled with blue eyed grass interspersed with mariposa lilies and buttercups, rigid hedge nettle stands at the edge of the woods.  The trail climbs through the meadow and enters the woods where there are deerweed, canyon sunflower and sticky monkey flower.  There is an area that is completely covered in hummingbird sage.  Just beautiful.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Cold Creek Preserve

Stunt High Trail

  Date: 5/3/06



        At the trail head there is flowering purple sage and the first mariposa lily I have seen this season.  Good signs.  Heading into the woods the creek is rushing.  There bush poppy, purple nightshade, canyon sunflower, golden yarrow and baby blue eyes.  Climbing up into the meadow there are geophytes; more mariposas, blue eyed grass, blue dicks, goldenstars, sweet pea, larkspur and a large sweep of Chinese houses.  Climbing higher into the chaparral there is California everlasting, deerweed, caterpillar phacelia, eucrypta, popcorn flower, wooly blue curls, heart leaf penstemon, California buckwheat and sticky monkey flower.  There are some special treats; blow wives, skullcap, mustard evening primrose and exquisite fairy lanterns.  A lovely hike.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Backbone Trail below Triunfo Pk.

  Date: 4/28/06



        We’re still waiting for the great flower displays we’ve seen here in the past. The species count is up to a respectable eighty five species, but many are having such a light turnout that it would be easy to miss the few individuals in bloom. This well-groomed grassy trail affords several dramatic vistas in most directions of the compass, especially if you take the side trip up to Triunfo Peak. The trail condition is excellent, and its wide and level aspect is a pleasure to hike. It has been recently mowed which is good because tall grasses can harbor ticks, including those that may potentially carry Lyme disease. Indeed, I went off trail for just a moment and found several ticks on me when I returned to the trail.

        There are still some decent displays of greenbark ceanothus blooming on this trail but they are now well past their prime. Other flower highlights include elderberry, shooting stars, chinese houses, Douglas sandwort, eucrypta, a couple of different everlastings, a few early purple clarkia, coast goldfields, hedge nettle, small-flowered meconella, black sage, windmill pink, rock rose, chia, chinese houses, Parry’s phacelia, caterpillar phacelia, fiesta flower, bleeding heart, red-skinned onion, deerweed, California buckwheat, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, purple nightshade, blue larkspur, wishbone bush, common fiddleneck, mustard evening primrose, wooly blue curls, California saxifrage, prickly phlox, miners lettuce, golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, canyon sunflower, wild morning glory, blue dicks, virgin’s bower, and a few different Lupines (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Malibu Creek State Park

Backbone Trail

  Date: 4/22/06



        Backbone Trail Sections Including Stunt Road to Piuma Road and Piuma Road east crossing to Piuma Road west crossing.

        This hike was the seventh of the 2005-2006 Backbone Trail NPS Series. We will be hiking the entire Backbone Trail, one part each month and reporting on the flowers seen. The hike series was oversubscribed this year so we are having a Saturday and Sunday hike over the same route to accommodate all interested hikers. Following is the flower list gathered by different people over the two days. Our route took us from the top of Stunt Road to Malibu Canyon Road:  a distance of 7.5 miles. The weather both days was overcast and cool.

        Starting at the top of Stunt Road, we went up and over Saddle Peak, descending the Saddle Peak Trail through Dark Canyon and climbing the Piuma Ridge Trail to descent to Piuma Road, and following the road to the Backbone Trailhead parking on Malibu Canyon Road. The hike includes the Coastal Sage Scrub, Southern Oak Woodland, Chaparral, Riparian Woodland, and Valley Grassland plant communities. Expectations of a large variety of blooming species were met with over 90 species being noted. The cool weather we have been experiencing has delayed flowering of many plants, but has also induced several plants to continue flowering. As usual, there always seems to be a couple plants that we could not immediately identify.

        The Backbone Trailhead going west from the top of Stunt Road begins about 100 yards down Stunt. Before reaching the trail we had already noted Greenbark Ceanothus, Red Stem and Long-Beaked Filaree, Golden Yarrow, Elderberry, Black Mustard, Mule Fat, Big Pod Ceanothus, Yellow Sweet Clover, and Common Sow Thistle. On the trail to the top we saw our first Prickly Phlox, Bur Clover, Tomcat Clover, Blue Dicks, Two-Tone Everlasting, Popcorn Flower, one of the Vetches, Prickly Sow Thistle, Dove Lupine, Plantain, Virgins Bower, Canyon Sunflower, Wild Sweet Pea, Miner’s Lettuce, Coast Live Oak, and Shiny Lomatium. There is a lot of Spanish Broome on this section, but only a few flowers are braving the cold. Also noted was the Hairy-Leaved Ceanothus which bears a great similarity with the Greenbark Ceanothus. Here one can compare the leaf structures to see the difference:  The Greenbark leaf has one main vein and the Hairy-Leaved has a triple main vein.

        As the trail topped out we had a special treat, seeing White Thorn with a profusion of purple flowers. As mentioned previously in these blooming reports, this is been a terrific year for Ceanothus blooming. The White Thorn is a seldom seen species of Ceanothus but we saw many in bloom continuing further down the trail. There is an abundance of Eastwood Manzanita blooming and bearing berries and further down the trail and we were able to compare the rough textured leaves of the Eastwood with the smooth leaves of the Big Berry Manzanita and see the larger berries. Other flowers along the trail were the Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry, Scrub Oak, Silver Lotus on the rocks, Large-Flowered Lotus, Sugar Bush, Deer Weed, and Cobweb Thistle. A scattering of Bush Poppies remain where they had dominated after the 1993 fire, now giving way to the more typical Chaparral. In the cool, shady areas Wild Cucumber flowers persist and we saw Bush Lupine, California Everlasting, Some Wooly Blue Curls, and lots of Bur-Chervil. There were Morning Glory, Black Sage, Caterpillar Phacelia, Eucrypta, a few early Chamise, Hummingbird Sage, Turkey Pea, Silver Puffs, a Windmill Pink, lots of Chia, Catalina Mariposa Lily, Purple Sage, Pacific Sanicle, Wishbone Bush, Foothill Lupine, Bush Monkey Flower, lots of Poison Oak, Blue-Eyed Grass, a single Indian Pink, a profusion of Hollyleaf Cherry, Mountain Mahogany, Fiesta Flower, Narrow-Leaved Bedstraw, Minute Popcorn Flower, Cliff Aster, Hedge Mustard, and Scarlet Pimpernel. Nearing the bottom of the descent are many Chinese Houses. We also noted Hedge Nettle and Wallflower. Climbing out of Dark Canyon always seems to provide special displays; this time it was Baby Blue Eyes, Woodland Star, Globe Gilia, Yellow Pin Cushion, Wild Peony, and the invasive Italian Thistle.  The Piuma Ridge Trail has Blue Larkspur, Owl’s Clover, Hedypnois, Blackberry, Indian Warrior, London Rocket, Small Evening Primrose, Mustard Evening Primrose, Water Cress, California Poppy, and Collarless Poppy. As the trail approached Piuma Road a second time there were more and more introduced species as we hiked through an area of an old cabin ruins, ending with the invasive Periwinkle. (BE & GS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Zuma/Trancas Cyns vicinity

   Backbone Trail

  Date: 4/22/06



        The short stretch of Backbone Trail from Mulholland Hwy to Encinal Canyon Rd (about 1 mile) is a delight to the senses. Each breeze is filled with the smell of sage and California Everlasting. Each turn has striking contrasts from white popcorn flower to deep purple Parry's phacelia and purple nightshade to the bright yellow candle flame and fire dot lichen growing golden designs on to deep green chamise. Starting from Mulholland Hwy, the trek is all down hill to Encinal Canyon Rd, but it will certainly lift your spirits.

        Other flowers present: lupine, monkey flower, deer weed, morning glory, canyon sunflower, cliff aster. (JJL)


Naturalist's rating:  Good to Excellent



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
Greg Sweel
Jack Gillooly
Judy Joy Lively
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