Page Revised: 11/25/05


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch
Upper Zuma Canyon
Topanga State Park

Date of Review

11/24/05 & 11/20/05

What's Blooming photo gallery:

What's Blooming archive:

Find events in the Santa Monica Mountains:


Circle X Ranch

All trails

   Date: 11/24/05



        While there have been few changes in the flowers at CXR since the last What's Blooming report, there have been significant changes in hiking experience itself. The new section of the backbone trail below Triunfo Peak has been recently repaired and is now in excellent condition. The two good rains have knocked down the dust and cleaned up the vegetation and left us with fresher air. Many small green plants have made their appearance along the trails and indeed, some of the trails are now covered with green grass. The generally clearer skies are providing better views of distant vistas such as the Angeles mountains and the Channel islands. And, of course, the weather is now much cooler.

        A few new winter flowers are beginning to make their appearance, but overall we have actually lost ground since the last report as many of the late-summer bloomers have essentially disappeared. For example, the entire six-mile Mishe Mokwa loop yielded only about a dozen different flower species and half of these were lightly represented. Highlights included woolly aster, twiggy wreath plant, Tejon milk-aster, cliff aster, chaparral current, California fuchsia, bush senecio, and California sagebrush. Elsewhere at CXR we’ve seen annual paintbrush, white hedge nettle, willow herb, sugar bush, bigberry manzanita, deerweed, rock rose, bleeding heart, golden yarrow, canyon sunflower, coyote brush, mule fat, scarlet pimpernel, tree tobacco, telegraph weed, bush mallow, two-tone everlasting, felt-leaf everlasting, California laurel, California buckwheat, ashy leaf buckwheat, wand buckwheat, and both white and purple nightshade. Again, many of these are only very lightly represented.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


Upper Zuma Canyon and Circle X Ranch

Backbone Trail

   Date: 11/20/05



        Each November the Sierra Club plans a series of hikes to celebrate the Backbone Trail. This hike was one of this year’s series and began at the Kanan Road trailhead and ended at the Mishe Mokwa trailhead, a distance of 14 miles. The flowers were generally few, but there were some surprises, probably due to a recent period of very warm weather. Twenty eight species were noted as well as a very large crop of red Toyon berries. Starting out on the Upper Zuma Section were the usual Cliff Aster, Black Mustard, Woolly Aster, Telegraph Weed, Twiggy Wreath Plant and an occasional California Fuchsia. Mule Fat and Sugar Bush are blooming along with widely scattered Bush Mallow. Looking upstream from the first bridge is a large stand of Snow Berries with their pure white berries. A single Bicolor Everlasting and a few Chicory were noted. After the bridge and a short up-hill section, is an area where the Common Madia appears in the summer and one greeted us today.

        Just after crossing Encinal Canyon Road and starting up the latest section of the Backbone Trail to be completed, we came to a warm area with almost a spring-like flower display. There were Purple Night Shade, Coyote Brush, Deer Weed, Greenbark Ceanothus, Canyon Sunflower, Slender Sunflower, Morning Glory, Tree Tobacco, and Scarlet Pimpernel blooming.

        We had been seeing the leafing out of the Chaparral Currant along way, but it was not until we got to the highest point as the Backbone Trail winds around Triunfo Peak that we saw the early flowers. Bleeding Heart is sprouting there and one plant had flowers. There were several Bigberry Manzanita blooming there as well.  (BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Generally Poor.


Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Canyon Trail

   Date: 10/5/05



        This is a wonderful hike.  It is cool here on even the hottest days.  There is still a lot of water in the creek, a testament to our record breaking rain year.  I went without much expectation of flowers, and so, was pleasantly surprised.  There is more California fuchsia than anything else.  Little patches of cudweed aster and cliff aster and California buckwheat.  I was surprised to find several patches of Indian pinks, by the book they should have finished months ago.  There are several scarlet monkey flowers blooming in the creek and I saw a single wild rose.  There were many places where deer have rubbed their antlers, many California sister butterflies and lots of tadpoles and froglets in the creek.  Not the spectacular flowers of spring but a wonderful place to be outdoors on a hot day.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair




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