Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update: April 18, 2022

By Helen Tarbet, U.S. Forest Service

While there are more wildflowers this week, there aren’t anywhere near as many as in a normal, non-super bloom year. I really feel that they are at their peak this week. I say this because, while there are more wildflowers, they are rapidly turning to seed. The wildflowers are really struggling to stay alive with such little rain, so they are doing what wildflowers are known to do during droughts, they bloom small, short and quickly and rapidly turn to seed to spread them for next year’s flowers. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we get more rain this coming fall/winter and next spring and that the wildflowers have a good year next year.

Let’s go explore!

Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, hummingbird sage, Chinese houses, fiddleneck and blue dick are still in bloom in this area but fading really fast. One can also see golden yarrow, while deer vetch and beautiful, elegant clarkia are starting to bloom. Along the canopy area, there isn’t a whole lot to see other than a few Chinese houses, farewell to spring clarkias, fillaree and thistle. While the tiny bit of rain we received a couple of weeks ago didn’t really do much for the wildflower, it certainly helped the grasses grow, hiding the struggling wildflowers.

As you continue to climb the mountain, lovely orange California poppies continue to bloom, only fewer of them. Also look for jimsonweed, Mexican elderberry, fillaree, purple wild onion, blow wives, buttercup, mustard, sky lupine, golden yarrow, buckwheat, wall flowers, fiddleneck, farewell to spring clarkia, thistle, blue-eyed grass and Chinese houses. Catalina mariposa lilies continue peeking through the tall grass. Grass Mountain remains bare, and the grasses are drying up more and more each day.

At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), all that’s left to see are occasional goldfields and filaree.

In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, poppies can still be found, along with golden yarrow and a few remaining sky lupine.

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 yet still waiting for that dance.

Looking straight ahead, unlike two weeks ago the patches of California poppies are rapidly disappearing along the rocky hillsides. However, they are still putting on a show on Poppy Hill, about 1/2 mile up the road, but it doesn’t look like it will be for much longer. Bush lupine is still in bloom, but such as the poppies, it’s beginning to fade as well.

From this point, up to the Davy Brown Trailhead, one will find more poppies, bush lupine, phacelias, purple wild onion, farewell to spring clarkia, chia, mustard, golden yarrow and Mexican Elderberry.

As you continue up the road to the gate at Ranger Peak, little is in bloom, but one can still see some poppies, bush lupine, sky lupine, morning glories, goldfields, a couple carpeted areas of tidy tips and red Indian paintbrush along the rocky areas. At the bottom of Ranger Peak, at the gate, look for adorable miniature lupine, fiddleneck, a couple of bush lupine and fillaree.

Halfway up Ranger Peak, in the shady areas, sweet baby blue eyes, fiddleneck, miner’s lettuce and phacelias are in bloom.

The stretch between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is quite the showcase! The bush lupine and bush poppies continue to steal the show. Orange sticky monkey flowers are beginning to join the act. While the bush lupine is still in full bloom and its heavenly smell still fills the air, seed pods are quickly beginning to replace the wildflowers. The bush lupine is still lining both sides of the road in many places, but if you want to see these gorgeous purple beauties along with the contrast of the bright yellow bush poppies, I recommend doing so before they retire until next year. Along this stretch, also look for golden yarrow, fiddleneck, Indian paintbrush, scarlet buglers, purple sage, caterpillar phacelia, globe lilies, wall flowers, purple phacelia, Mexican elderberry, farewell to spring clarkia and clematis. Be sure and check out the clematis, as it has made its mystical transformation from flower to its pom-pom seed pod stage.

Sunset Valley has a variety of blooms, just not that many of them. Look for scarlet bugler, popcorn flower, chia, goldfields, 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 vetch.

When you get Happy Canyon, look for tuft poppies, vetch, golden yarrow, bush lupine, bush poppies, Mexican elderberry, purple sage, clematis in its pom-pom seed form, wild cucumber, purple sage, Nuttall’s larkspur, purple nightshade, fiddleneck, lupine, ceanothus, deer vetch and buckwheat. Between the two creek crossings, in the grassy field on the right, one can still spot some beautiful orange poppies, hiding deep within the tall grass. Continuing along the road in the shaded areas look for what’s left of this year’s fiesta flowers, vetch, Nuttall’s larkspur and some very whimsical and charming white fairy lanterns. On the rocky areas, beyond the shaded fields, you can find gorgeous red Indian paintbrush, sticky monkey flower, vetch, mustard, poppies, Mexican elderberry and purple sage.

Continuing down the hill, in the areas of full sun, lovely Catalina Mariposa lilies are blooming within the grassy areas, also look for occasional poppies, miniature lupine, mustard and butter lupine.

The Chicken Springs area still has some beautiful California poppies in bloom, but as in other places on Figueroa Mountain, they are going to seed quite rapidly.

Beyond the shooting area, to the bottom of the hill, look for purple sage, blue-eyed grass, blue dick, ceanothus, elegant clarkia, Nuttall’s larkspur, sticky monkey flowers, ceanothus, Mexican elderberry, morning glories, farewell to spring clarkia, golden yarrow and Chinese houses.

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


Helen Tarbet

Written by Helen Tarbet

Helen Tarbet is the Recreation Technician for the Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District, and frequently provides wildflower updates.

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