Page Revised: 7/24/10


Available Site Reviews

Topanga State Park

Circle X Ranch

Castro Crest

Cold Creek Preserve

Date of Reviews

7/15 & 6/20 & 6/19.




Quick Links:

What's Blooming Now - Photo highlights of the current flower reports.

Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains - Photos of over 700 species.

Archive - Previous “What's Blooming” reports.

Outdoors - The Calendar of Events for the Santa Monica Mountains NRA.



Wildlowers Facebook - A place where people can share about local flowers.


        I managed to get in a bit of hiking in this past week but all of it was in either chaparral of coastal sage scrub, neither of which are noted for their summer flowers.  As expected there was not much to see. Up here at CXR the laurel sumac and toyon are blooming nicely and the red shank is starting to bloom.  Chaparral flowers like the Plummer’s mariposa lily and the scarlet larkspur can be found but most individuals are sporting seed pods rather than flowers.  Look for areas that are sheltered or even still have some moisture like canyon bottoms or shady woodlands like the Santa Yenz canyon mentioned below.  Even in the heat of summer there are still many flowers in bloom but they tend to require more hunting to find and often look less dramatic than their showy springtime cousins (this popular judgment is obvious when you observe that a number of them have the word “weed” somewhere in their name.)  Running a search on the Wildflower web site using the Flower Finder and choosing “Summer” returns an amazing 270 species.  Some of these are late spring flowers that disappear fairly early in the summer, some bloom throughout the summer in sheltered areas like canyon bottoms and the coast, some are typical roadside and garden weeds, but a number of them comprise our true summer flowers.  Finding them all keeps me hiking throughout the year.

        I’ve added a new Facebook link in the Quick Links section above.  I’ll be using it to communicate items about flowers that don’t quite fit in here or on the Wildflower web site. I’ve also made it open to everyone so people can share their own observations and ideas.  You do have to have an account with facebook to visit it.

        One final note about the heat.  Every year, without fail, we hear of people killing their dogs on our trails (and I am not being metaphorical here – I mean literally dead so that it must be buried.)  A dog cannot deal with the heat nearly as well as a person can.  If you are feeling hot your poor pet may already be under life-threatening stress.  Remember to be compassionate to all of your companions.

        As always, if you want to contact me or submit a flower report my email address is at the at the bottom of this page.  See you on the trails.

        – ed.




Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Trail

         Date: 7/15



        Santa Ynez Trail toward Trippet Ranch. Santa Ynez Canyon is a good shady riparian spot for a summer hike.  I enter at the Ver de la Montura entrance in Pacific Palisades.  Walking along the creek there is still some bush lupine, sticky monkey flower, cliff aster and heart leaf penstemon.  The star of this first part of the trail is a large patch of monardella, a member of the mint family.  This trail is the only place in the Santa Monicas where I have seen it.  Scarlet monkey flower is in bloom at the edge of the creek.  Wild roses are blooming and are wonderfully fragrant.  There is California buckwheat, California honeysuckle, Indian pinks and chamise.  I never used to see deer along this trail but in the past six months have seen them every time I have come.  This day I saw a doe and two fawns.  There are still some Humboldt lilies in bloom and they alone are justification for coming to this canyon. 

        You reach a point where the trail climbs out of the canyon bottom to head through chaparral to Trippet Ranch.  This stretch is often great for flowers but it is also hot and exposed.  I only went about a quarter mile up the trail before returning to the shady canyon bottom.  But it is worth the sweat to see the stunning scarlet larkspur.  There are still a few white snapdragons and Plummer’s mariposas.  There is blooming chamise, sugar bush, twiggy wreath plant, cudweed aster, slender tarweed, dudleyas, chalk-live-forever and mountain mahogany.  Looking out over the surrounding hillsides there are still a lot of yuccas in bloom.

        – Dorothy Steinicke


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Loop

         Date: 6/26



        We went out specifically to see what the Rein orchids were up to but also to check on the mariposa lilies. The first thing we noticed is that this trail has dried up significantly since the last time we hiked it less than three weeks ago. There are still quite a few of the late Spring flowers to be found but many of them have finished for the season or are now represented by only a few hardy (and often withered) individuals.  The flowers rating on this trail is still good but now it is because of specific dramatic flower species rather than the large variety and quantity we saw earlier in the season. We did find the diminutive Rein orchids, both the denseflower and Alaskan – and more than I’ve seen in years.  We also ran into many Plummer’s mariposa lilies, a few late yellow mariposa lilies, and even one Humboldt lily. Another favorite of mine that is starting to come in pretty strong is the scarlet larkspur.  Other highlights include quite a bit of the heart-leaved penstemon, soap plant (the lily), California buckwheat, Yucca, tarweed, bird’s beak, a few mostly dried-up turkish rugging, bush mallow, woolly blue curls, a few early wreath plants, a couple of morning glory, quite a few bush monkey flowers and a few yellow monkey flowers, only a few golden stars where two weeks ago there were hundreds, toyon, the wonderfully fragrant pitcher sage, speckled clarkia, chaparral honeysuckle, just a few blue larkspur, Spanish clover, rock rose, and the tiny downy navarretia. We saw perhaps fifty species in bloom but the counts are way down from a few weeks ago.  Nonetheless, still pretty good.

        – ed.


Castro Crest

Backbone trail

         Date: 6/25



        Corral Canyon toward Latigo Canyon. Highlights (from our point of view): rose snapdragon, scarlet larkspur just beginning, canchalagua, fringed Indian pink, blue larkspur (Delphinium parryi), golden stars, wild roses, bush mallow, California fuchsia, purple clarkia, perezia, creek monkey flower, Turkish rugging, soap plant, foothill penstemon, Spanish clover, and yellow mariposa lilies.  We turned around by the lilies. Others: wooly blue curls still nice, red skinned onion, scarlet bugler, elegant Clarkia, California thistle, marsh jaumea, cliff aster, yucca, California buckwheat, rye, annual paintbrush, cinquefoil, and slender sunflower.

        Fading: deer weed, golden yarrow, sapphire wool stars, sticky monkey flower, and black sage.

        From one to two miles (I was not paying attention) down Corral Canyon from the top, look for bleeding hearts on the right side 10 feet or so up by a turnout as you are making a left turn.  Also, lots of white sage along the lower section of the road.

        – John & Barbara.


Cold Creek Preserve

Nature Trail

         Date: 6/24



        Cold Creek runs year round so I thought it would be a good June hike.  I'm sure it could be but I made the mistake of arriving midday instead of early morning or late afternoon.  Even the shaded riparian area was hot.  There are still flowers but they have passed their prime.  At the trailhead there are slender tarweed, California buckwheat, golden yarrow, laurel sumac and bush mallow in bloom.  Going under the canopy of trees there are elegant clarkia, deerweed, sticky monkey flower, amole lily, heart leaf penstemon, elderberry flower, canyon sunflower, black sage, toyon and honeysuckle in bloom. There are several patches of delicate milkwort.  Down by the creek there are a very few stream orchids still in bloom.  Continuing into the chaparral there was cliff aster, California everlasting, blooming dudleya, purple sage, farewell-to-spring and Indian pinks.  Very probably there is more but I could not continue in the midday sun.  Unfortunately the shaded riparian section is just a half mile in and then half mile out.

        – Dorothy Steinicke


Topanga State Park

Temescal Canyon Loop

         Date: 6/20



        The Temescal Loop is a popular trail.  Often almost too popular.  Also since half the loop is exposed chaparral it can get uncomfortably hot in summer.  However, now is a time for some really incredible flowers.  We chose to walk near sunset to get the advantage of evening coolness.  We took the loop counter clockwise in order to be first in the shade and then in the chaparral as the light faded. 

        Entering the wooded trail there are still plenty of flowers.  There are elderberry blooms, vervain, black sage, some fading blue eyed grass, rock rose, heart leaf penstemon, honeysuckle, sticky monkey flower, cliff aster, blooming sugar bush and some really lovely bush mallow.  There are yuccas blooming across the hillside and surprisingly, there are still big pod and greenbark ceanothus in bloom.  There is wild morning glory, California buckwheat, caterpillar phacelia, canyon and bush sunflowers, white and purple nightshade and deerweed. Chalk live forever is on the rock walls and sending out flowering stems.  The toyon are starting to bloom.  The trail has had a lot of maintenance work and one result has been patches of large flower phacelia.  Stop at the bridge by the still flowing waterfall to enjoy the cool.  From the bridge you can see the lovely scarlet monkey flower growing next to the waterfall.  Continuing uphill there is golden yarrow, Chinese houses, some lovely milkwort, tiny but beautiful California bee plant and hedge nettle growing along the trail.  When you reach the chaparral at the top you are in for a treat.  If it is a clear day your 360 degree view will encompass Catalina Island to Mt. Baldy.  Closer to hand there are gorgeous Plumbers mariposas blooming in large quantities along the rest of the trail.  I think the plumber's mariposa is perhaps the most lovely of this lovely genus.  Among the mariposas are equally striking scarlet larkspur, perezia, twining snapdragons and woolly blue curls.  Flower watching doesn't get much better.

        – Dorothy Steinicke


Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Canyon Trail to the Waterfall

    Date: 6/19



        This is a wonderful cool, shaded hike for a hot summer's day.  You can hike down from Trippet Ranch to reach the canyon, but that involves a mile or more of descending through (lovely) chaparral followed by an exposed uphill climb on your way out.  Or you can do what I did and take the easy way, entering at the dead end of Ver De La Montura, a spur off of Palisades Dr. which is off of Sunset just east of PCH. 

        Immediately you are in the shade and hear the sound of water running.  At this point the water is running through a concrete lined channel but soon you will be walking alongside a natural stream.  There is sticky monkey flower, black sage, bush lupine, California buckwheat, honeysuckle, wild rose and Indian pinks.  Looking up you will see heart leaf penstemon draped over the trail and, frequently, the lovely Humboldt lilies that look almost illuminated.  The trail comes to a split and you can choose to go left through the woods and eventually climb through chaparral or turn right and continue along the stream and eventually arrive at the waterfall.  Turning right we immediately encountered a group of deer including two fawns.  The trail meanders back and forth across the stream where you encounter narrow leaf milkweed, chicory and farewell-to-spring.  On a rock wall rising out of the creek water there is a patch of round leaf boykinia, one of the special flowers that grow in this canyon.  Continuing on you arrive at the now meager waterfall.  Some people scramble up the rocks but it is just lovely to sit at the bottom and enjoy the tadpoles, birds and butterflies..

        – Dorothy Steinicke



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360



If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408

What’s Blooming

on the web at

or go to and click on “What’s Blooming”