Page Revised: 08/02/2011


Available Reviews

Mugu State Park

Topanga State Park

Mugu State Park

Los Robles Open Space

Arroyo Conejo Open Space

Malibu Creek State Park

Circle X Ranch

Newton Canyon

Date of Review

07/31 & 07/25 & 07/21.

07/29 & 07/21 & 07/09 & 07/08 & 06/28.




07/09 & 06/28.

06/29 & 06/25.


Quick Links:

Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains - Photos of 850 SMM species.

Archive - Previous “What's Blooming” reports.

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

Wildfowers Facebook - A place where people can share about flowers.

SMM WildFlowers - The Park's popular wildflower app for the iPhone/iPad.


        Recently someone who frequently sends flower reports to this newsletter wrote to me and said they went on two different hikes and “everything was dead.” So it often seems on the trails in Southern California in the summertime. For sure, flowers can be found throughout the summer and my camera is busy year round, but mostly gone is the best the Santa Monica Mountains has to offer. Where in springtime any old trail was bound to please during the summer finding flowers becomes a matter of the craftiness of the flower hunter. Look for sheltered sites with shade or water. These places can offer flowers year-round and additionally may reward us with some of the rarest finds.

        Alternatively, consider re-defining your expectations of what defines a flower. Many of our true summer flowers are small and obscure or have a scraggly habit and not perhaps what the typical person would use in their flower arrangements (this value judgment is clear when we note many of them have the word “weed” in their names.) Now is the beginning of the season of the true flower enthusiast.

        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.




Mugu State Park

Serrano Valley to Blue Canyon

 Date: 07/31/2011



        In Serrano Canyon wild roses have not yet peaked and grow densely along streams with occasional Plummer's mariposa lily.  The droning of hundreds of bees almost seems to penetrate you.  I found the "three reds"--California fuchsia, scarlet larkspur and heartleaf penstemon--all in a row.  In Serrano Valley chia, purple sage and wooly blue-curls are abundant.  Blue Canyon is miles away from anywhere.  It is accessible from Serrano Valley by way of Old Boney Trail by way of a high ridge which tunnels through bigpod ceanothus and arrives at outstanding views of the escarpments of Boney Mountain on your right and to the left you can see to, well, about Santa Barbara.  The Boney Mountain Wilderness area is rough and there is loose, sharp stone on some descending parts of the trail.  Here you are likely to find a little bend of the trail with a special cachet lingering in your memory.  In Blue Canyon there was much to remember:  big, luminous blue boulders and blue sand.  A half mile of nothing but willows.  Laurel bay trees.  Old oak trees whose branches curl over to make a tunnel.  The song of a warbling vireo reverberating across the solitude, etc.  Finally you arrive at the almost-Shakespearean wonderland of Big Sycamore Canyon.  I hope Blue Canyon continues to be an outstanding wilderness trail.  – Alexander Walker


Trippet Ranch

Santa Inez Canyon Trail to Waterfall Trail

 Date: 07/29/2011



        The Humboldt Lily at the beginning of the waterfall trail was in good shape. Plants that were blooming: Eremocarpus setigerus, Hemizonia fasciculate, Heteromeles arbutifolia, Brassica nigra, Cryptantha intermedia, Mimulus aurantiacus, Lupinus longifolius, Lotus scoparius, Stephanomeria virgata, Malacothamnus fasciculatus, Salvia apiana, Salvia mellifera, Asclepius fascicularis, Sambucus mexicana, Nicotiana glauca, Encelia californica, Ceanothus spinosus, Marrubium vulgare, Eriophyllum confertiflorum, Adenostoma fasciculatum, Dudleya lanceolata and Cirsium occidentale.  – Rich Redman


Mugu State Park

Wood Canyon Vista Trail to

Big Sycamore Canyon

 Date: 07/25/2011



        The Wood Canyon Vista Trail is a Backbone Trail connector and an easy ridge trail winding downward for two miles through chaparral to a sycamore-shaded stream in Big Sycamore Canyon. A good area to spot Plummer's Mariposa Lily, considered rare in the Jepson Manual.  I spotted Indian pinks, wooly paintbrush and morning glories blooming.  Greenbark ceanothus with its blue flowers and white-blooming bigpod ceanothus grow in close association and their branches often intertwine.  Down at the stream there are California wild roses.  I saw a doe eating lamb's quarters.  There are datura 'lilies' in the canyon.  The sycamore trees defy explanation being often three feet across but growing parallel to the ground for fifty or seventy feet or more with no visible support.  In the evening light the Vista Trail offers outstanding views to the north and east.

– Alexander Walker


Santa Ynez Canyon

(Topanga Canyon State Park)

Santa Ynez Canyon Trail

 Date: 07/21/2011



        This trail is a good summer hike as much of it is in deep shade at a canyon bottom.  I went in hopes of finding some special summer flowers that I have only seen in this canyon.  The only special flower that I found in abundance was monardella, a lavender member of the mint family.  I saw it growing in three different patches, always poking out of clumps of poison oak. 

We entered into the riparian section from the end of Vereda de la Montura, a street that branches off of Palisades Drive.  While there was not a profusion of flowers there were quite a lot of individual flowers.  We immediately saw heart leaf penstemon, white nightshade, California buckwheat and sticky monkey flower.  As we continued we saw the aforementioned monardella, bush lupine, honey suckle, black sage, cliff aster, scarlet monkey flower, white hedge nettle, Indian pinks and perezia,  There was a little of the ocean spray or cream bush still in bloom.  We saw one remaining Humboldt lily. 

        We went a short distance up into the chaparral although it was hot hot to be pleasant.  There was still a lot of scarlet larkspur, twiggy wreath plant, elderberry, chamise, cudweed aster, blooming toyon, slender tarweed, chalk live forever, lance leaf dudleya, golden yarrow, wild morning glory and one remaining Plumbers mariposa. 

        We backtracked and took the trail that branches to the waterfall.  We saw some coastal boykinia blooming at the edge of the creek.

This hike was special in that we saw a ring neck snake on the trail and an aquatic garter snake in one of the pools near the waterfall.  There were also newts in the creek which are always fun to watch.  – Dorothy Steinicke


Mugu State Park

Misc. Trails

 Date: 07/21/2011



        On Tuesday I walked from La Jolla Canyon over to Big Sycamore Canyon through Wood Canyon, and also went into the Boney Mountain Wilderness, and there are many flowers in full bloom.  California fuchsia are blooming and will bring you into close proximity with Anna's hummingbirds.  On several occasions these charming birds hovered in my face and seemed to want to tell me something  (probably "you're in my fuchsia!").  The lightly-saturated bush mallow is noticeable along many side trails in La Jolla Valley.  It is easy on the eyes.  Walking down Wood Canyon fire road I was pleased to see an immense hillside to the left completely covered with ceanothus, and on the north-facing slopes blue ceanothus blossoms are blooming.   Keep in mind the return trip up the fire road is a scorcher.  – Alexander Walker


Los Robles Open Space

Rosewood Trail

 Date: 07/19/2011



        This trail starts on Lynn Rd. across from Susan Dr.  You can also access it from Regal Oak Dr.  Park at the end of the cul-de-sac. If you start on Lynn Road you will roam through an oak woodland before you come to the trailhead. We were originally going to hike this during the day, but decided to return in the evening as it looked like a hot uphill trail.  The evening was a good choice for this time of year.  The uphill climb is very gradual.  When we reached the top we had a view of the ocean and the Channel Islands with a beautiful sunset as a backdrop.  It was quite lovely and worth the effort.  This trail is probably loaded with flowers earlier in the spring as there was an abundance of blooming plants just not many blooms.  The most surprising was a few red shanks with flowers.  We don't usually see them at this low of an elevation.  Other flowers in bloom included:  sticky monkey flower, elderberry in berry, California everlasting, California buckwheat, cliff aster, holly-leaf redberry, horehound, bush sunflower, heart-leaf penstemon and laurel sumac.  – Fred and Nellie


Arroyo Conejo Open Space

Misc. Trails

 Date: 07/18/2011



        The trailhead is at the west end of Calle Yucca. Take the trailhead down staying left until you come to Conejo Creek.  Turn right.  You will cross the creek several times and your shoes will probably get wet.  We continued on the trail past the water reclamation plant to the Hill Canyon Wetlands.  Walk down the trail alongside the wetlands until you come to a long yellow gate on the right hand side of the trail.  Go around the gate and walk down the creek for a short distance and you will see the Conejo Creek and the creek from Wildwood converge into one.  It's probably not as exciting as seeing two rivers in the Amazon converge, but I thought it was cool.  There weren't many flowers in bloom, but there were several edible plants with fruit ready to harvest.  We enjoyed Lemonadeberry (just suck on the fruit and spit it out), holly-leaf red berry (we spit out the seeds) elderberry, and wild celery. There was also some wild grapes but they were still green so we didn't taste any. In the animal kingdom we saw a very large carp, a yellow striped racer snake,  and a tree full of scrub jays,  Other plants that were still in bloom included:  fennel, California everlasting, heart-leaf penstemon, California poppy, toyon, California buckwheat, yucca, horehound, bush sunflower, morning glory, bird beak, vervain, datura, bush mallow, wild rose, prickly lettuce, water plantain, watercress, tree tobacco, caster bean, and virgin's bower.  – Fred and Nellie


Malibu Creek State Park &

Topanga State Park

Backbone Trail

(Saddle Peak Trail)

 Date: 07/09/2011



        The trail crosses the road up at the end of Stunt Road where it intersects Saddle Peak and Schueren Roads. It is a beautiful view just from the parking lot. Go up the hill on the right when you are facing the ocean. We followed the trail to the peak and then backtracked to the fork in the road and went down the path with the sign that said "boundary". We took this trail down past the big rocks and then went back the way we came. There were quite a few flowers in bloom for this time of year and great abundance of many varieties. The most exciting would be the chaparral pea which isn't that common. There were several large bushes with many blooms. Quite lovely. The trail was lined with sticky monkey flower and heart-leafed penstemon on the shady sections of the trial. We also saw a Plummer’s mariposa lily plant with at least 22 blooms which is unusual. There were a lot of Eastwood manzanita with their little "apple" berries. The trees were gorgeous with their smooth dark maroon trunks, light green leaves, and little green and red berries against a deep blue sky. We saw a few silk tassel bushes, but we will have to remember to go again in the late winter to see the blooms. Always a treat. The other flowers on the trail include: laurel sumac, toyon, a lot of California buckwheat, yarrow, deerweed, chamise, narrow-leaf dudleya, bedstraw, bush mallow, cliff aster, a small amount of black sage, spring vetch, tocalote, Spanish broom, hemlock, California and felt-leaf everlasting, lupine, canyon sunflower, virgin's bower, morning glory, caterpillar phacelia, Indian pink, a few blooms of hairy ceanothus (there were several hairy ceanothus trees on the trail) cudweed aster, wooly blue curls, and honeysuckle. Also noteworthy is the very large horned lizard who escaped quickly into the brush, and some spittle bugs on the felt-leaf everlasting. Enjoy the hike!  – Fred and Nellie


Topanga State Park

Trailer Canyon Trail

 Date: 07/08/2011



        Today we hiked up the Trailer Canyon Trail from Pacific Palisades to the Backbone Trail and back, about 4.5 miles each way. Even though we have been having hot weather the flora is still quite green, with some surprises. While the Laurel sumac, California buckwheat and Toyon dominate in quantities, Elderberry flower and fruit are plentiful. There is leftover Monkey flower, Deerweed, Golden yarrow, Purple nightshade, Filaree, Black sage, Caterpillar phacelia, and Heart leaved penstemon. Starting up the trail we saw Vervain, Chaparral honeysuckle, and Sunflower, giving way to Cliff Aster, Narrow leaved milkweed, Bush lupine, Two-tone everlasting. Of course there was plenty Yellow star thistle, Black mustard, Tree tobacco, Sweet fennel, and a few Bristly ox-tongue. I was surprised to see what appears to be re-blooming Greenbark ceanothus and Chamise. There are a few Hollyleaf redberry that are easy to identify with the berries. The expected Felt-leaf everlasting and Slender tarweed were represented. Not having hiked this trail before, I was surprised to see more than a few Braunton’s milkvetch in the final stages of blooming. When I referred to my iPhone app for SMM Wildflowers, I see that the pictures posted for this plant were taken on Temescal Ridge Trail just above the trail that we are hiking. Rating: very good.

– Burt Elliott


Wildwood Park

Paradise Falls Trail

 Date: 07/05/2011



        We parked in the parking lot on Arboles across from Wildflower playfields, then went across the lawn behind the bathrooms to the trail entrance. This is where the fort used to be. We took this trail along the creek following the signs to Paradise Falls. After looking at the falls we continued on the trail, passed through the campground towards Lizard Rock and returned the same way we came following the creek. The highlight of the hike was viewing Paradise Falls. It is running vigorously and I feel sometimes I forget how lovely it is because it is so accessible. For the best view go to the base of the falls and carefully walk across the pond to the cliffs on the other side using the well placed rocks and branches. Many of the rocks have moss and are slippery so it is easy to slip in the water. The cliffs on the other side of the creek have an abundance of Conejo buckwheat in bloom growing out of them. I believe Wildwood is one of the few areas with considerable patches of Conejo buckwheat so seeing them in all over the cliffs was worth the hike. There were not many other flowers blooming in abundance. Summer has definitely arrived. That said, we still did see a large variety of flowers, just not in their peak. There was yerba mansa by the creek and California fuschia near the falls. We also saw perezia. false indigo in seed, a lot of California buckwheat and chalk dudleya, white and yellow clover, sticky monkey flower, wild celery, mule fat, bladderpod (unusual this far from the ocean) heart-leaf penstemon, toyon, purple sage (mostly dried up but a few blooms) lemonade berry in berry, honeysuckle, watercress near the stream, yarrow, tarweed, canyon sunflower, cliff aster, California everlasting, lance-leaf dudleya, hemlock, morning glory, snowberry in berry, and water plantain. As the days have been hot we went in the evening and found the temperature very conducive for hiking.  – Fred and Nellie


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail

 Date: 06/29/2011



        We did just a quick hike down toward split rock near sunset. The evening was cool and the light lovely but in the end we had to turn back before we got there because it was getting too dark. I made a flower list but is was very brief because so many things have dried up in the last few weeks. The best of the lot was plentiful scarlet larkspur and Plumber's mariposa lily, both still approaching their peak. The other things I made particular note of was the appearance of the tarweeds and the dropping of the leaves on the salvias -- both signs that spring is over and summer is here, at least on this trail. Still looking good was woolly blue curls, heart-leaved penstemon, white pitcher sage, bird's beak, both caulk and lance-leaved dudleya, bush mallow and california buckwheat. Additional highlights were scarce and most of the remaining things I will mention here are on the way out or even essentially done. They include black sage, yucca, sapphire wool stars, golden yarrow, small-flowered dwarf-flax, Turkish rugging, deerweed, yellow monkey flower, chamise, sticky madia (another tarweed), one golden stars, and several sticky monkey flower shrubs with only a few sad flowers showing on a bush that had hundreds of dried up blossoms. The mariposa lily and scarlet larkspur on their own keep the rating of this trail "good."  – ed.


Topanga State Park:

Trippet Ranch

Santa Ynez trail to waterfall

 Date: 06/28/2011



        Our goal for this hike was to visit the Santa Ynez Waterfall. We hadn't been here for a few years. Several people we talked to along the trail told us it was dried up and no longer existed. Fortunately, they were wrong. Surprisingly we saw quite a few flowers for this time of year and there was a lot of variety also. The hike started as a ridge trail and this portion of the hike had the most flowers. There were large bushes of lupine and heart-leaf penstemon. There was also quite a few Plummer’s mariposa lilies and a large smattering of crimson larkspur. Other flowers in bloom on the upper trail included: sticky monkey flower, pitcher sage, scarlet pimpernel, tarweed, deerweed, buckwheat, filaree, California everlasting, bush mallow, verbena, elderberry, cliff aster, morning glory, black sage, red berry in berry, bush sunflower, honeysuckle, yucca, narrow-leaf milkweed, bull thistle, toyon, yarrow, laurel sumac, chamise, wooly blue curls, narrow-leaf dudleya, twiggy wreath plant, bedstraw, woolly blue sapphire, cudweed aster, and chalk dudleya.

        The trail then descends into the Santa Ynez Canyon. It was cool and pleasant with a lot of foliage, but not as many flowers. We saw: wild rose, blackberries in berry (tasty) canyon sunflower, and holly-leaf red berry. As I mentioned earlier our goal was to go to the waterfall. After about 15 or twenty minutes in the canyon you will come to a post that says "waterfall" with an arrow pointing to a trail. Take that trail. A sign states that the trail in not maintained. However, it is pretty easy to navigate. You will cross the creek several times and will sometimes have to walk in the creek bed to find the trail start up again. One crossing leads to a false trail, so be sure the trail is going parallel to the creek. There is a lot of poison oak. We saw quite a bit of Spanish broom, some more pitcher sage, a few Indian pinks, and several Humboldt lilies on the way to the waterfall. You will come to a point where the trail stops. Getting to the waterfall requires boulder climbing and wading through the creek. Your shoes will probably get wet. When we arrived at the waterfall, which fell into a small pond and grotto and was quite beautiful, we were delighted with the scarlet monkey flowers growing out of the fern covered rocks. As a side note, near the post that says, "waterfall" there are two chimneys from a homesteaders house hiding in the brush. Have fun!.  – Fred and Nellie


Malibu Creek State Park

Backbone Trail

 Date: 06/28/2011



        The Backbone trail crosses Piuma Road about 1.2 miles east of the junction of Piuma Road and Las Virgenes.  There is a small area to park on the right. I crossed the street and took the east bound trail, up a small hill, then down to the stream, then going up the mountain.  Despite it being so late in the season, there are still flowers to see on this trail.  There is much Bush Mallow blooming right now and there are some beautiful Plummer's Mariposa Lily still blooming at various points along the trail.  At the beginning of the trail there is some California Fuchsia and some Scarlet Larkspur.  Other flowers that I saw blooming were California Buckwheat, Cliff Aster, Slender Tarweed, Bush Sunflower, Sticky Monkeyflower, White Morning Glory, Black Sage, Deerweed, and Golden Yarrow.  Near the top of the trail (two miles up) there is a spot where a good number of Indian Pinks are blooming.  A little past here, there are some Chaparral Yucca in bloom.  – Jim Garafalo


Newton Canyon Trailhead

Backbone Trail

 Date: 06/25/2011



        The trail starts on Kanan Road.  Most of the flowers that we saw were on the Backbone trail.  There were quite a few flowers and a good variety.  We didn't get started until 5:00, but as it doesn't get dark until 8:00 this wasn't a problem.  The Backbone trail is wide and easy to hike.  We also descended down into the canyon and visited 3 waterfalls.  To view the first waterfall, take the first trail to the left that deviates from the main trail.  It is fairly wide and easy to follow. Whenever there is a fork in the road go to the left.  There was quite a lot of water falling and a good sized pond under it, but we were most delighted by the large Humboldt lily that greeted us at the base of the falls.  It had about 10 blooms.  Retrace your steps up to the main trail.  A little further down you'll find a more obscure trail.  This trail is overgrown and very steep.  You will have to use both of your hands to navigate down and to get back up.  This trail is only for hearty hikers.  When you reach the bottom of the trail you will be walking along the streambed.  Unless you are pretty good at stone jumping and horizontal rock climbing, your shoes may get wet.  If you turn right and walk upstream you will find Zuma Falls.  There are many interesting rock formations surrounding the falls.  Spectacular really. The water in the ponds was delightfully clean.  Retrace your steps, go a little further downstream and turn left at the next canyon.  You will come to Newton Falls.  This is more of a moss and fern covered area with water dribbling over it.  Quite picturesque.  Retrace your steps and go back up the very steep trail.  Someone had put a black garage sack on a stick which was helpful in finding the trail up.  The flowers that we saw in canyons were:  purple nightshade, chalk dudleya, lots of creek monkey flower, wild rose, yarrow, snowberry, feverfew, and wild celery.  When we reached the Backbone trail again we hiked a quite a bit further down and then turned around and came back.  As I mentioned earlier, while the canyons were lush with foliage. most of the flowers we saw were on the Backbone trail.   Those flowers included: a lot of Spanish broom, California everlasting, an abundance of sticky monkey flower, heart-leafed penstemon, narrow-leaf dudleya, hedge nettle, coast figwort, elegant clarkia, canyon sunflower, chamise, caterpillar phacelia, black sage, slender sunflower, cliff aster, deerweed, sweet yellow clover, several areas with bush mallow, yucca, California buckwheat, verbena, mugwort, purple clarkia, bush lupine, fennel, tree tobacco, greenbark ceanothus, popcorn flower, crimson larkspur and two perfect Parry's phacelia.  It was delightful.  – Fred and Nellie


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

 Date: 06/24/2011



        Things have definitely begun to dry out now, although this trail, with its south aspect, dries out early anyway. It is one of the first to start flowering nicely in the spring and one of the first to enter summer. Except for some scattered holdouts most of the flowers in this list tell us summer is just around the corner. In addition most of the flower reported here were present in only modest numbers, much less than just a few weeks ago. Highlights include elegant clarkia, a few greenbark ceanothus, several Plummer’s mariposa lily, perezia, slender tarweed, bird’s beak, annual paintbrush, bush monkey flower, creek monkey flower, Spanish clover, Turkish rugging, black sage, golden yarrow, morning glory, California wild rose, heart-leaved penstemon, California buckwheat, both chalk and lance-leaved dudleyas, several nice stands of scarlet larkspur, chamise, yucca, bush mallow, woolly blue curls, laurel sumac, California chicory, and deerweed. All told about 35 species in bloom. Except for the larkspur and the lilies not too much to brag about.  – ed.



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 you can e-mail the editor at:


or phone Tony at 310-457-6408

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