By Helen Tarbet, US Forest Service
The Figueroa wildflowers continue to give it their all despite the little rain they’ve received this spring. While the flowers are becoming less and less in certain areas of the mountain, they are thriving in others. There are also certain flower varieties that are blooming in multitude this year versus years past. The areas that are currently really showing off their beautiful flowers are Sunset Valley and Happy Canyon. While poppies and sky lupine really didn’t do well this year, Nuttall’s larkspur, elegant clarkia, Chinese Houses, punchbowl clarkia also known as farewell to spring, golden yarrow and both common phacelia (purple phacelia) and caterpillar phacelias are really putting on some lovely displays along these locations.
Let’s go check it out!
Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, hummingbird sage, golden yarrow, elegant clarkia and blow wives can still be found, but are quickly disappearing. Deer vetch and buckwheat are still in bloom. Right before the canopy area, look for purple sage on the left. Along the canopy area, there’s little to see, but deer vetch, thistle and fillaree are still present as are some farewell to spring, trying to compete through the tall grass.
As you continue to climb the mountain, lovely orange California poppies continue to bloom, only quite a few less. Also look for jimsonweed, Mexican elderberry, filaree, purple wild onion, blow wives, mustard, sky lupine (although going quickly), golden yarrow, buckwheat, dudleya, morning glories, farewell to spring, thistle, butter lupine, purple wild onion and Chinese houses (in the shaded areas). Catalina mariposa lilies are still showing off their beauty through the tall grass, just not as many. Grass Mountain continues to dry up more and more each day.
At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), not much to see except for the gorgeous view of the Santa Ynez Valley.
In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, buckwheat, golden yarrow and purple sage can be found. Across the station, bush lupine, Mexican elderberry and yarrow are in bloom.
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 are dancing their last dance of the season, while golden yarrow continues to bloom.
About 1/2 mile up the road, Poppy Hill still has poppies in bloom only considerably less and much smaller.
From this point, up to the Davy Brown Trailhead, one can still find more poppies, bush lupine, purple phacelias, farewell to spring, chia, mustard, golden yarrow, caterpillar phacelias, globe gilia 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 (although it’s rapidly going to seed), mountain dandelions, arroyo lupine, blow wives, white wild onion, golden yarrow, chia, fiddleneck and filaree.
At the bottom of Ranger Peak, at the gate, look for fiddleneck, mountain dandelion, blue dick and lupine.
Halfway up Ranger Peak, in the shaded areas, sweet baby blue eyes continue to bloom along with fiddleneck, miner’s lettuce, purple phacelias, lacepod, caterpillar phacelias, golden yarrow, bush lupine, poppies and Mexican elderberry.
The stretch between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is still a shining star! Lovely bush lupine continues to line both sides of the road in certain areas and its heavenly aroma still fills the air, yet it is rapidly turning to seed with some of the bushes turning yellow as they dry out. Bush poppies and orange/yellow sticky monkey flowers are certainly decorating the rocky hillsides throughout this area. Along this stretch, also look for poppies, golden yarrow, fiddleneck, Indian paintbrush, scarlet buglers, purple sage, caterpillar phacelia, globe gilia, a few wall flowers, purple phacelia, chia, Mexican elderberry, farewell to spring, clematis in seed pod form, Coulter’s lupine, deer vetch and black sage.
Sunset Valley has come alive these past two weeks, showing off its gorgeous blooms. As you turn onto Sunset Valley, start looking for clematis in its pom-pom (seed pod) form, golden yarrow, Nuttall’s larkspur, scarlet bugler, Mexican elderberry, chia, blue dick, morning glories, purple phacelia, blow wives, thistle, tuft poppies, caterpillar phacelia, purple sage, black sage, Coulter’s lupine, elegant clarkia, popcorn flower, punch bowl (farewell to spring) clarkia, Chinese houses, mustard, deer vetch, sticky monkey flower, holly-leafed cherry, buckwheat and spotted clarkia.
When you get back to Happy Canyon, you will find much of the same as you did on Sunset Valley. Look for golden yarrow, thistle, vetch, clematis in seed form, chia, black sage, sticky monkey flowers, tuft poppies, morning glories, purple sage, Mexican elderberry, stinging lupine, and farewell to spring. Between the two creek crossings, in the grassy field on the right, one can still spot a few orange poppies, nestled in the tall grass. Also, look for the beautiful pink wild roses right before the creek. Continuing along the road in the shaded areas, look for those adorable white fairy lanterns as they light up the rocky hillsides. Along the grassy area, Chinese houses and vetch continues to bloom but the lovely fiesta flowers have left us until next spring. On the rocky areas, beyond the shaded fields, you can find gorgeous red Indian paintbrush, sticky monkey flower, vetch, mustard, a few poppies, Mexican elderberry and purple sage.
Continuing down the hill, in the areas of full sun, lovely Catalina Mariposa lilies are still visible within the tall grassy fields but are rapidly fading and turning to seed. Also look for occasional poppies, miniature lupine, mustard, butter lupine and the start of anise. While it’s not yet blooming, its wispy fern-like leaves are beginning to emerge.
The Chicken Springs area has little to show. Most of the poppies have gone to seed.
Beyond the Chicken Springs area, to the bottom of the hill, look for purple sage, thistle, blue dick, cactus flower, a few poppies, Mexican elderberry, holly-leafed cherry, elegant clarkia, farewell to spring, climbing penstemon, black sage, golden yarrow, wooly blue curls, blue dick, sticky monkey flower, blow wives, Nuttall’s larkspur, winecup clarkia and clematis in seed form.
That’s all for now. See you in two weeks!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.