Page Revised: 6/22/05


Available Sites

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

Date of Review

6/18/05, 6/17/05, 6/12/05 6/1/05, 5/23/05
6/14/05, 6/5/05, 5/31/05
6/9/05, 5/28/05, 5/25/05
5/30/05, 5/26/05

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.

3.      Westlake Road from Potrero Rd. to Mulholland Hwy.

4.      Yerba Buena Road, especially up from the coast.


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

 Date: 6/18/05



        We started from the group campground and walked down to the Grotto and back, a round trip of about 2.5 miles. The trail has been recently brushed so it was a pleasure to walk. Now heading into summer we were pleased to see some of our favorite flowers including Plummer's Mariposa Lily, Humboldt Lily, Bush Mallow, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Fleabane Aster, and Scarlet Larkspur. Lately I've been seeing California Fuchsia in several places here at Circle X and was pleased to see they are beginning to bloom on the Grotto trail as well. All told we encountered almost 70 species in bloom. Other highlights include California Wild Rose, Soap Plant, Bush Monkey Flower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Elegant Clarkia, Farewell-to-Spring, Toyon, Woolly Blue Curls, Elderberry, White Nightshade, Morning Glory, Golden Yarrow, Golden Stars, Indian Pink, Fish's Milkwort, Bird's Beak, Western Thistle, and even a holdout Catalina Mariposa Lily.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail

 Date: 6/17/05



        On 6/17/05 we hiked the Mishe Mokwa trail primarily to see the reported rein orchids. We missed them on the way out to Split Rock, but found two of them on the return trip. It was well worth the trip in the all day drizzle to see them. A very light drizzle persisted all day, but the moisture on the trail side vegetation is what soaked us. Some 68 species were found to be blooming and because of the quality and general quantity of each a very good rating is bestowed on this trail. It seemed to be the day of the monocots which are frequently so colorful in display. Amongst these as well as the rein orchid were Plummer's Mariposa lily, yellow Mariposa lily, golden star, yucca, peninsular onion, Humboldt lily, and soap plant. Seven or eight of the Humboldt lily plants were spotted along the way, some sporting as many as five blooms plus more buds.

        Starting at the eastern most trailhead off Yerba Buena Rd. we encountered hedge mustard, golden yarrow, Calif. buckwheat, purple Clarkia, yellow star thistle, chamise and Calif filago. A large quantity of Turkish rugging was present and still some wooly blue curls, black sage, birds beak, slimy monkey flower and slender tarweed. The laurel sumac is nearing full bloom accompanied by bush mallow, bristly popcorn flower, scarlet larkspur, sticky madia, lance-leaf live-forever, bush monkey flower and toyon. Continuing along the trail we saw Calif. everlasting, morning glory, Calif. chicory, Parry's phacelia, white pincushion, yellow monkey flower, a lot of white pitcher sage and speckled Clarkia. Cliff aster, red stem filaree, blow wives, and heartleaf penstemon were also seen. A hairy leaf ceanothus was still blooming and purple night shade, small flowered fiddleneck, imbricate phacelia, canyon sunflower and several chalk live-forevers provided accompaniment.

        After the first Humboldt lily we spotted chaparral honeysuckle, bush lupine, owl's clover, gold field, narrow leaf bedstraw, scarlet monkey flower, vervain, windmill pink, wild strawberry, curly dock, wild rose, horehound, American winter cress and elderberry all in the vicinity of split rock. We attempted to continue on to balanced rock, but the condition of that trail and the moisture on the brush overgrowing it discouraged us from proceeding further than a third of the way. On the way back we picked up the following blooms that we had previously missed: California thistle, coffee berry bush, Chinese houses, caterpillar phacelia, virgin's bower (large seed puffs), angels gilia and of course the rein orchids.  (RWM).


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Malibu Creek State Park

Tapia Spur Trail

 Date: 6/14/05



        We only hiked the section of this trail between the entrance road of the Salvation Army camp in Tapia Park to the group campsite in Malibu Creek State Park, a bit less than a mile. Highlights include Indian Milkweed, Narrow-leaved Milkweed, Golden Yarrow, Foothill Penstemon, Canchalagua, Sticky False Gilia, Chamise, Common Vervain, Purple Clarkia, Elegant Clarkia, Woolly Blue Curls, Bush Mallow, White Snapdragon, Woolly Monkey Flower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Bush Monkey Flower, Scarlet Larkspur, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Elderberry, Indian Pink, Honeysuckle, Toyon, Yellow Pincushion, White Pincushion, Twiggy Wreath Plant, Turkish Rugging, Bush Poppy, Purple Nightshade, Branching Phacelia, Cliff Aster, Lance-leaf Live-Forever, Yucca, Mustard Evening Primrose, Long-beaked Filaree, White Sage and a couple of different Sunflowers.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Lower Zuma Canyon

Ocean View &
Canyon View trails

 Date: 6/13/05



        Although the lower trails in lower Zuma Canyon tend to be rather "weedy," the upper ones can provide a nice display of native wildflowers. The Ocean View / Canyon View loop is only a little over two and a half miles, but the elevation change adds significantly to the workout. I also added the short Scenic Trail loop and found a couple of nice flowers there as well. Parts of the Canyon View trail had an annoying burden of star thistle and made wearing shorts uncomfortable. Over 70 species of flowers were seen, although there are many "weedy" ones in this count and some are only lightly represented as they are on their way out for the season. Sections of the trail were worthy of a very good rating although most was only good.

        Highlights include Datura, Elderberry, Common Vervain, Bush Mallow, Canyon Sunflower, Yucca, Horehound, Turkey Mullein, White Nightshade, Branching Phacelia, Morning Glory, Cliff Aster, Yarrow, Golden Yarrow, Bush Lupine, Twiggy Wreath Plant, California Poppy, Bush Monkey Flower, Creek Monkey Flower, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Toyon, Black Sage, Purple Sage, Gum Plant, Western Thistle, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Pink, Soap Plant, Plummer's Mariposa Lily, several Dudleyas, Chamise, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Chaparral Honeysuckle and Fish's Milkwort.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak via the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead

 Date: 6/12/05



        Our main purposes on this hike were to visit Sandstone Peak and to check on the progress of the Rein Orchids on the Mishe Mokwa trail. These inconspicuous slow growing plants are finally beginning to bloom, rewarding the real die hard flower enthusiast. The variety of flowers is down as we head into summer, although this section of trail is never spectacular in that particular way.

        Many of the fifty or so species encountered are of the "weedy" variety or on their last legs, so to speak. However, there are still respectable displays of Bush Lupine, Yellow Monkey Flower, Woolly Blue Curls, Black Sage, Chamise, Deerweed, Yucca, Caterpillar Phacelia, and the Clarkias, although they are on their way out.

        Still going strong are California Buckwheat, Bush Monkey Flower, Turkish Rugging, Golden Yarrow, Lance-leaf Live-forever, Golden Stars, Yellow Mariposa Lily, Branching Phacelia, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Flax-Flowered Linanthus, Chaparral Honeysuckle and Pitcher Sage.

        Early yet in their blooming cycle are Scarlet Larkspur, Slender Tarweed, Soap Plant, Bird's Beak, Chalk Live-forever, Rein Orchid, and the magnificent Humboldt Lily.   (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Trail

 Date: 6/9/05



        This trail can be accessed either from Trippet Ranch above or the end of Vereda de la Montura Street off of Palisades Drive in Palisades Highlands.  The accounting travels from low to high.

        Entering the trail you are immediately in a shady riparian habitat.  There is still a lot of water in the creek.  At the start of the trail there are black sage, bush mallow, bush lupine, white nightshade and California buckwheat.  Going deeper into the woods was sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, California poppy, golden yarrow, canyon sunflower and the best treat; multitudes of Humboldt lilies dangling from tall plants.  At the marked cross trail you can go right to the waterfall, which is a lovely hike but this day I went left toward Trippet Ranch.  Very shortly on the left you see cream bush in full flower cascading down the rock wall.  Continuing through the woods there are caterpillar phacelia, farewell-to-spring, Santa Monica dudleya, hedge nettle, blackberry flower, chicory and eucrypta. 

        Abruptly the trail turns uphill and into chaparral.  This brings an entirely different array of beautiful flowers.  There are white snapdragons by the hundreds, chamise, Turkish rugging, yellow monkey flower, white pincushion, deerweed and some spectacular chalk live-forever.  There is a spot where low along the trail are the beautiful canchalagua mixed with owl's clover, scarlet bugler, slender tarweed, heart leaf penstemon and California everlasting.  Suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of scarlet larkspur, many 10 feet tall.  There were many Plummer's mariposas.  Now low along the trail are sapphire wool stars and a bit further fleabane aster.  There were lots of different varieties of lizards and of butterflies.  Views are incredible.  It was the best hike I've taken this year.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Malibu Creek State Park

Cistern trail to Crags road

 Date: 6/5/05



        On 6/5/05 we hiked down the Cistern Trail off Mulholland Hwy. to Crags road to its end at Malibu Lake. Our objective was to see the blooms on a California false indigo reported near the western end of Crags Dr. in Malibu Creek State Park. We found the false indigo, but unfortunately it had completed its blooming so we saw the foliage and dried out blooms only. The hike though was an unqualified success though with 96 species blooming including the grasses. The quantity could be described only as bountiful, so an excellent rating is given. Eight species could not be immediately identified in the field, but subsequent research provided firm to tentative names of the new sightings. The new ones for me were: flax-flowered linanthus, Indian tobacco, western blue flax, stinky gilia, rose snapdragon and what I believe was several large stands of horseradish. Other sightings which I have seldom seen were California milkweed, white sage and a brilliant red purple Clarkia.

        Flowers in bloom in the white/cream color group were cliff aster, chamise, California buckwheat, matilija poppy, white snapdragon, bristly popcorn flower and yucca. There were also California chicory, soap plant, morning glory, eucrypta, English plantain and mugwort. Poison hemlock seems to be getting more plentiful than desired, but we also spotted elderberry, imbricate phacelia, California filago, Datura, narrow leaf milkweed and common yarrow.

        In the yellow/gold/orange group we encountered hedge mustard, yellow star thistle, deerweed, slender tarweed, golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, yellow monkey flower, sour clover, slender bedstraw, sticky madia, gumplant, golden star, California coffee berry bush, western wallflower, and black mustard. The usual prickly sow thistle and telegraph weed were seen as well as California poppy, lance leaf dudleya, Spanish broom, creek monkey flower, slimy monkey flower and a magnificent Humboldt lily sporting 3 fully opened blooms and an additional 7 more waiting their turns. Present along the way was sweet fennel, collarless Calif. poppy, Barnaby's star thistle, pineapple weed, yellow Mariposa lily, and bush sunflower.

        Present in the lavender/blue/purple color group were Italian thistle, black sage, bush mallow, greenbark ceanothus, Chinese houses, and purple nightshade. Others in this group were wooly blue curls, purple sage, elegant Clarkia, caterpillar phacelia, vervain and purple Clarkia (the lavender and purple variety). Speckled Clarkia, blue larkspur, winter vetch, red stem filaree, and several nice stands of foothill penstemon. Turkish rugging was plentiful, and long-beaked filaree, dove lupine, speedwell and milk thistle were also found.

        Pink/rose/red were represented by coast paint brush, heart leaf penstemon, scarlet pimpernel, Plummer's Mariposa lily and California thistle. Equal billing must be provided as well for the Indian pink, Calif. wild rose, chaparral honeysuckle, and snowberry.

        Other sightings include giant rye, Harding grass, coffee fern, curly dock, umbrella sedge, rabbit’s foot grass, and rye grass.  (RWM).


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

 Date: 6/1/05



        This trail is often one of the best for flowers in the winter and spring, but now that spring is winding down it is only good to fair. The worst of the infestation of foxtails and star thistle have been recently removed making it a pleasure to walk in shorts again

        Highlights include Woolly Blue Curls, Chamise, California Buckwheat, Parry's Phacelia, Large-flowered Phacelia, Caterpillar Phacelia, Purple Nightshade, Black Sage, Golden Yarrow, Yucca, Blue Dicks, Golden Stars, Turkish Rugging, Rock Rose, Purple Clarkia, Elegant Clarkia, Scarlet Larkspur, Lance-leaf Live-forever, Yellow Pincushion, White Pincushion, Wild Morning Glory, Linanthus, Laurel Sumac, Bush mallow, Yellow Monkey Flower, Creek Monkey Flower, Bush monkey Flower, Slender Tarweed, Mustard Evening Primrose, Annual Paintbrush, Rose Snapdragon, Cliff Aster, California Chicory, Dodder, Heart-leaved Penstemon, and Windmill Pink.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Malibu Creek State Park

Misc. West end Trails

 Date: 5/31/05



        We started at the parking lot in the South-East corner of the intersection of Mulholland and Cornell Road and hiked East toward Reagan Ranch. We hiked sections of most of the trails South of Mulholland and West of Century Lake but not the Lost Cabin trail. This includes a wild variety of habitats ranging from Oak Woodland to Valley Grassland to Coastal Sage and Chaparral. Flower density is not as great now that spring is winding down but we still saw several interesting flowers.

        Highlights include California Tea, Spanish Clover, Speckled Clarkia, Elegant Clarkia, Purple Clarkia, Gum Plant, Gumweed, Coffeeberry, Bush Monkey Flower, Downy Monkey Flower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Golden Stars, Yarrow, Golden Yarrow, California Dandelion, Purple Sage, White Sage, Crimson Pitcher Sage, Yucca, Yellow Mariposa Lily, Linanthus, California Wild Rose, Globe Gilia, Slender Tarweed, Soap Plant, several different Lupines, Wild Brodiaea, Woolly Blue Curls, Bush Mallow, White Snapdragon, Indian Pink, Sticky False-gilia, California Poppy, Collarless California Poppy, Matilija Poppy (and several unknown poppies, probably garden escapees), Indian Paintbrush, Indian Milkweed, California Milkweed, Narrow-leaved Milkweed, Foothill Penstemon, Wild Heliotrope, Snowberry, Hedypnois, Parry's Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia (and other phacelias), Chaparral Honeysuckle, Garden Toadflax, Lance-leaf Live-forever, Bird's Beak, Blue-eyed Grass, Chinese Houses, Common Vervain, Chamise, Cliff Aster, Common Madia, Blue Larkspur, Wild Morning Glory, Woolly Morning Glory, Purple Nightshade, several different Sunflowers, Yellow Pincushion, White Pincushion, False Indigo, Turkish Rugging, Wild Sweet Pea, and Scarlet Bugler.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating: Good


Point Mugu State Park

Serrano Canyon Trail

 Date: 5/30/05



        We started at the coast and walked up Big Sycamore Canyon trail to Serrano Canyon trail and then to the gate on Serrano Road, about 6 miles. Flowers are on the wane now that Spring is winding down but several interesting flowers were still seen. The trail along the creek under the cover of the oaks and sycamores is beautiful at any time of the year but watch for the difficult to avoid poison oak.

        Highlights include Wild Rose, Yellow Monkey Flower, Creek Monkey Flower, Black Sage, Canyon Sunflower, Common Vervain, Bush mallow, Wild Morning Glory, Purple Sage, Coast Figwort, Hedypnois, Elderberry, Yucca, Cliff Aster, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Datura, Indian Paintbrush, Speedwell, Hedge Nettle, Bush Lupine, Farewell-to-Spring, Golden Yarrow, Chinese Houses, White Nightshade, Purple Nightshade, Blue Dicks, Slender Tarweed, Purple Snapdragon, Indian Pink, Chamise, Humboldt Lily, Crimson Pitcher Sage, Blue-eyed Grass, Woolly Blue Curls, Toyon, Turkish Rugging, Parry's Phacelia, Bird's Beak, Golden Stars, Spanish Clover, Prickly Phlox, Long-beaked Filaree, Wishbone Bush, Woolly Aster, Fleabane Aster, and Bush Sunflower.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating: Good


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 waterfalls

 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


Topanga State Park

Temescal Ridge Trail

 Date: 5/25/05



        We started hiking at the trailhead off of Chastain Parkway and went North to the Trailer Canyon Fire Road, less than a mile of the trail. We went up there mostly to look at the Braunton's Rattle-weed, a rather rare flower currently in bloom. This section of the trail is mostly dry sage and chaparral and while the variety of flowers was not great it is quite densely flowered in places. Notable, in addition to the above mentioned rattle-weed, include Bush Monkey Flower, Golden Yarrow, Wild Morning Glory, California Buckwheat, Gumweed, Heart-leaved Penstemon, White Nightshade, Toyon, Bush Lupine, Bush Senecio, Cobweb Thistle, and Cliff Aster.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Circle X Ranch

Backbone Trail near Sandstone Peak

 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, fire 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




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:


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

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408