By Helen Tarbet, US Forest Service
Although there are more wildflowers this week, there aren’t nearly as many as in a normal non-superbloom year. I really feel like they are at their peak this week. I say this because, although there are more wildflowers, they quickly turn into seeds. Wildflowers really struggle to stay alive with so little rain, so they do what wildflowers are known to do during droughts, they bloom small, short, and quickly and quickly turn into seeds to spread them for next year’s flowers. Fingers crossed that we have more rain this fall/winter and next spring and that the wildflowers have a great year next year.
Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, the Hummingbird Sage, Chinese Houses, Violin, and Blue Cock are still in bloom in this area but fade very quickly. Yarrow can also be seen, while deer’s vetch and the beautiful and elegant clarkia are starting to bloom. Along the canopy area there is not much to see except for a few Chinese houses, farewell to the spring clarkias, fillaree and thistle. While the little rain we received a few weeks ago didn’t really do much for the wildflowers, it certainly helped the grasses grow, hiding the struggling wildflowers.
As you continue up the mountain, pretty orange California poppies continue to bloom, only fewer in number. Also look for Jimson weed, Mexican elderberry, fillaree, purple wild onion, golden hit brides, buttercup, mustard, heavenly lupine, yarrow, buckwheat, wall flowers, fiddlehead , the farewell to the spring clarkia, the thistle, the blue-eyed grass and the Chinese houses. Catalina mariposa lilies continue to peek through the tall grass. Grass Mountain remains bare and the grasses are drying out more and more each day.
At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), all that remains is to see gold fields and occasional filaria.
In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, poppies can still be found, along with golden yarrow and some remaining sky lupins.
As you pass the station there really isn’t much to see until you reach the field on the right before you get to Tunnel Ranch Road. The charming orange wall flowers continue to bloom but are still waiting for that dance.
Looking straight ahead, unlike two weeks ago, patches of California poppies are rapidly disappearing along the rocky hillsides. However, they are still having a show on Poppy Hill, about 1/2 mile down the road, but it doesn’t seem like it will be for long. Bush lupine is still in bloom, but like poppies, it is also beginning to wilt.
From this point to the Davy Brown Trail there will be more poppies, bush lupins, phacelia, purple wild onion, farewell to spring clarkia, chia, mustard, yarrow and Mexican elderberry.
As you continue down the road to the gate of Ranger Peak, few flowers are in bloom, but you can still see poppies, bush lupine, heavenly lupine, morning glories, goldfields, a few areas lined with tidy spikes and red Indian brushes along the rocky areas. At the bottom of Ranger Peak, at the gate, look for adorable miniature lupins, a fiddler, a few bush lupins and fillaree.
Halfway up Ranger Peak, in shady areas, sweet blue eyes, fiddleheads, miner’s lettuce and phacelia are in bloom.
The section between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is quite the showcase! Bush lupine and bush poppy continue to steal the show. The orange sticky monkey flowers are starting to join in on the act. While the bush lupine is still in full bloom and its heavenly scent still fills the air, pods are quickly beginning to replace wildflowers. The bush lupine still lines both sides of the road in many places, but if you want to see these gorgeous purple beauties with the contrast of the bright yellow bush poppies, I recommend you do so before they retreat to the next year. Along this stretch also look for golden yarrow, fiddlehead, Indian paintbrush, scarlet bugles, purple sage, caterpillar phacelia, globe lilies, wallflowers, purple phacelia, Mexican elderberry, farewell in spring clarkia and clematis. Be sure to check out clematis, as it has made its mystical transformation from flower to its pom-pom pod stage.
Sunset Valley has a variety of flowers, but not many of them. Look for Scarlet Bugle, Popcorn Flower, Chia, Gold Fields, Purple Phacelia, Morning Glories, Wild Cucumber, Thistle, Miniature Lupine, Golden Yarrow, Caterpillar Phacelia, Chinese Houses , speckled clarkia, elegant clarkia, Nuttall’s larkspur, ceanothus, poppies, Coulter’s lupine, tufted poppies, purple sage, Mexican elderberry, and deer’s vetch.
When you get Happy Canyon, look for Tussock Poppies, Vetch, Yarrow, Bush Lupine, Bush Poppies, Mexican Elderberry, Purple Sage, Clematis in its seed form. pom-pom, wild cucumber, purple sage, Nuttall’s larkspur, purple nightshade, fiddlehead, lupine, céanothe, deer’s vetch and buckwheat. Between the two stream crossings, in the grassy field to the right, you can still see beautiful orange poppies, hidden deep in the tall grass. Continuing along the road in shady areas, look for what remains of this year’s feast flowers, vetch, Nuttall’s larkspur and some very whimsical and charming white fairy lanterns. On the rocky areas, beyond the shady fields, you can find beautiful red Indian paintbrushes, sticky monkey flowers, vetch, mustard, poppies, Mexican elderberry, and purple sage.
Continuing down the hill, in areas of full sun, beautiful Catalina Mariposa lilies bloom in the grassy areas, also look for the occasional poppies, miniature lupine, mustard and butter lupine.
The Chicken Springs area still has some beautiful blooming California poppies, but like other places on the Figueroa Mountain, they will go to seed fairly quickly.
Beyond the shooting range, at the bottom of the hill, look for purple sage, blue-eyed grass, blue cockle, ceanothus, elegant clarkia, Nuttall’s larkspur, sticky monkey, ceanothus, mexican elderberry, morning glories, farewell to spring clarkia, golden yarrow and chinese houses.
A reminder to all wildflower viewers…..when stopping to take photos or for a hike, please do not block the road at any time or double park. As you all know, this is a hazard that makes it impossible for emergency vehicles to pass should their assistance be required.
That’s it for this update. Look for our next wildflower update in two weeks. Until then, happy viewing! If you would like to be added to the Figueroa Wildflower Update mailing list, please send your request to Helen Tarbet via email at [email protected]