Page Revised: 12/19/05


Available Sites

Rancho Sierra Vista
Point Mugu State Park
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:


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Loop Trail

  Date: 12/18/05



        A cool, cloudy day was perfect to see the usual early bloomers appearing on this short (1.5 mile) loop trail. There are a lots of chaparral currant, known as our earliest bloomer.  A few late summer/fall flowers, such as mallow and mule fat, are still hanging on to bushes. Big pod ceanothus is in bud and many blooms are already opening. A few bushes of purple nightshade have lots of blooms. Toyon is loaded with luscious red berries, although some bushes have already been stripped by the birds. (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Promising, but poor, due to quantity.


Point Mugu State Park

Backbone trail: Ray Miller to Danielson Multi-use

  Date: 12/10/05



        Each month between December and June the National Park Service (NPS) escorts hikers on sequential segments of the Backbone Trail Hike (BBT).  Car and van shuttles facilitate the logistics.  The hikers are chosen in November.  If you're interested in participating in next year's walk contact the NPS Visitors Center, 805-370-2301.

        Perfect weather accompanied the lead segment of this year's NPS BBT hike.  Unending views of the Channel Islands, dramatic clouds and far off interior mountain ranges literally placed us in the middle of wide open spaces.  The area is still very dry.  Plants greened up with the October precipitation, but they aren't yet willing to risk their future generations on our unpredictable weather.  Blooms are just around the corner if the elements would only cooperate.

        Climbing out of La Jolla Canyon's Riparian environment, the hills of Coastal Sage Scrub held limited species offerings.  Sometimes just a single flower was all one could enjoy.  As we descended back into the Riparian floor of Sycamore Canyon the gold, yellow and greens of the canyon's namesake tree were glorious.  Some of the perennial shrub species are holding a good bloom quite well, but you'll have to be patient for the burst of color.  Blooms are either fall holdovers or winter's early arrivals, mixed in with some ubiquitous exotics.  As we walked we noted: mule fat, coyote bush, lemonade berry, ashy leaf buckwheat, bladderpod, deerweed, wand chicory, black mustard, big-pod ceanothus, chaparral currant, squaw spurge, and four o'clock.  Also enjoyed were: sugar bush, purple nightshade, cliff-aster, prickly phlox, gum plant, woolly aster, California fuchsia, wand buckwheat, chamise; greasewood, tree tobacco, and telegraph weed (RW)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor


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 loop of the  Mishe Mokwa trail 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




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Jack Gillooly
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