Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update 2
By Helen Tarbet, U.S. Department of Agriculture
It appears that this year the wildflowers will not be very cooperative. There are more wildflowers on Figueroa Mountain this week than 2 weeks ago, but nowhere near as many as an average wildflower year. There are different varieties of wildflowers in bloom throughout the mountain, however, they are few and far between. Some of the flowers are even starting to go to seed. I’ve observed that this normally happens on dry/drought years. The rain is so little that the plants/seeds must compete for the little moisture that they get. Those that do manage to bloom, stay for a short time then go to seed quickly in order to spread their seeds for next year. Please join me and you’ll see what I mean.
Let’s get started!
Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, shiny buttercups, beautiful fiesta flowers, blue dick, fiddlenecks, filaree, a couple of sky lupine, and new this week is the arrival of lovely Chinese houses, hummingbird sage, caterpillar phacelia and blow-wives. Right before entering the canopy area, in the small field to the right, the shooting stars have gone to seed. The only flowers left are blue dick and some lomatium. Also, look to your left as you enter the canopy and find a few sky lupine remaining, along with blue dick. Along the canopy area, whimsical Johnny jump-ups and stunning fiesta flowers, fiddleneck, filaree, blue dick and an occasional lupine can still be enjoyed in this shaded area, along with blow-wives and the start of Chinese houses.
As you continue to climb the mountain, stunning orange California poppies continue to bloom along the road and on the rocky hillsides. The Ceanothus has finished its bloom in this area. Right before you get to the rusty gate, the cream cups, along the right side of the road have almost disappeared. Filaree can still be found at this location, along with blue dick and the start of mustard. Look to your left, you will see that Grass Mountain remains bare for the exception of grass covering portions of it.
Other wildflowers to look for as you continue your uphill drive include buttercups, prickly phlox, miner’s lettuce, filaree, blue dick, fiddleneck, goldfields and a few lupines. Mexican elderberry is beginning to bloom. You will also see Catalina mariposa lilies popping up in the grassy fields.
At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), the shooting stars and chocolate lilies have gone to seed, but beautiful blue-eyed grass is making an appearance, along with goldfields, filaree, and fiddleneck.
In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, the poppies and coreopsis are going to seed, but currently present are blue dick, golden yarrow, caterpillar phacelia and the start of purple sage.
As you pass the station, there is not much to see except some blue dick and fiddleneck. You can also see how rapidly the grasses are drying. In the field right before Tunnel Road, there are some gorgeous wallflowers in bloom along with buttercups and wild onions which are starting to come up.
About a half mile further, in the famous poppy hillside there are currently quite a few tuft poppies, however, they are not carpeting the hillside as in a good poppy year, but they are more so scattered, as if someone hovered over the hillside and sprinkled them. Lupine are also scattered throughout this hillside. From this point up to the campground, there really isn’t much other than another small hillside with a scattering of poppies on your left and bush lupine. Past the campground, about 1⁄4 of a mile before the Davy Brown Trailhead, the bush lupine is really waking up, small patches of poppies can be seen on the rocky hillside to your left, along with fiddleneck, caterpillar phacelias, Ceanothus and popcorn flower. At the Davy Brown Trailhead, you can still see a few chocolate lilies, shooting stars and blue dick. Beyond the trailhead, the shooting stars are quickly turning to seed, as well as in the field adjacent to the large dirt turnout to your left about 1⁄2 mile further. You can still find a few chocolate lilies hiding in the grass along with lomatium and a few lupines.
As one continues down the road beyond the turnout, the shooting stars continue to turn to seed, however, stunning deep purple sky lupine can be found. Other beauties to look for along this stretch include blue dick, goldfields, poppies, buttercup, popcorn flowers, fiddleneck, lomatium and filaree. Also, at the location towards the end of the rustic pipe fence, look closely and see quite a few chocolate lilies in the fields on both sides of the road.
At the gate where the road to Ranger Peak begins to go up the hill, look for a few, small baby blue eyes accompanied by some miniature lupine. As you continue up the road to Ranger Peak, look for more and larger baby blue eyes in the shaded areas. Fiddleneck and miner’s lettuce will be keeping them company.
The stretch between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is really coming alive! The bush lupine, bush poppies and Mexican elderberry are waking up more and more each day in this area. Also look for chia, patches of poppies, purple phacelias, Ceanothus, golden yarrow, scarlet buglers, purple nightshade and the beautiful bell-shaped flowers of the manzanita which is currently in bloom.
Sunset Valley has more in bloom this week. It has mostly bush poppies, bush lupine and Mexican elderberry. You can also find purple nightshade, different varieties of thistle, small tuft poppies, collared lupine, popcorn flower, Nuttles larkspurs, Chinese houses, wild cucumber, morning glories, prickly phlox, sticky monkey flowers, golden yarrow, chia, 4 spot clarkias and caterpillar phacelias. Keep in mind, that while all of these flowers were found, there weren’t that many of them, so keep a sharp eye for them as you hunt for these beauties.
Happy Canyon’s wildflowers are also blooming. Look for tuft poppies, vetch, golden yarrow, bush lupine, bush poppies, Mexican elderberry, purple sage, morning glories, canyon wild peas, stinging lupine, arroyo lupine, clematis and Indian paintbrush. Right before the creek crossings, the grassy field on the right still has some beautiful orange California poppies but you’ll have to look for them as they are hiding in the grass. Continuing along the road in the shaded areas, stunning fiesta flowers continue to bloom. Joining these lovelies are Chinese houses, vetch and blue dick. On the rocky areas, beyond the shaded fields, prickly phlox continues to bloom, as does gorgeous red Indian paintbrush, fiesta flowers and wild canyon peas. Continuing down the hill, in the full sun areas, arroyo lupine, a scattering of poppies, blue dick, thistle, mustard and fiddleneck can be found. Also, look in the grassy fields and find striking Catalina mariposa poppies blooming prolifically.
The Chicken Springs area still has lots of California poppies, only they are much harder to see on the ground because they are now hiding among the tall grass. The poppies on the hillsides are still quite visible. You will also find lovely blue-eyed grass, blue dick and Mexican elderberry in this area.
Beyond the shooting area, to the bottom of the hill, look for shooting stars, buttercups, fiesta flowers, mustard, poppies, Mexican elderberry, purple sage, prickly phlox, lomatium, blue dick, wild canyon peas, morning glories, arroyo lupine and flashy fuchsia flowering gooseberries.
A reminder to all wildflower viewers.....when stopping to take pictures or to take a hike, please do not block the road at any time nor double park. As you all know, this is a hazard and makes it impossible for emergency vehicles to get through if their assistance were required.
That’s all 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 email list, please send your request to Helen Tarbet by email at [email protected]