First Figueroa Wildflower Update for 2022
By Helen Tarbet, Los Padres National Forest
Figueroa Mountain Wildflower First Update for 2022 April 1, 2022
My apologies for not submitting a wildflower update sooner, however, the wildflowers have been less than cooperative this year on Figueroa Mountain and are quite scarce, giving me very little to write about. I believe much had to do with the tons of rainfall we had in December then receiving little to no rain from January forward. A few of the early varieties came out in mid-February, such as shooting stars and toothworts, but were few and extremely short lived. I’m noticing that this is happening with all the flowers that are currently blooming. The poor flowers are making a valiant effort to bloom the best they can with the little to no moisture they received in the last 3 months in order to scatter their seeds for next year’s blooms. Although we’ve received a fair amount of rain this week, it really is too late for this year’s wildflowers. While the grasses will benefit from it, unfortunately, the wildflowers will not. Another thing worth mentioning is the lack of variety of wildflowers that we normally find on Figueroa Mountain by this time of year. Perhaps they’re running late or maybe they just didn’t get enough rain to bloom. One thing for sure...this will certainly not be a super bloom year on Figueroa Mountain. It is looking as though it might be a short season for the wildflowers so it may not be a bad idea to check them out as soon as possible.
Shall we start with our driving tour? Let’s go!
Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, vibrant hummingbird sage, Chinese houses, shiny buttercups, beautiful fiesta flowers, blue dick, fiddlenecks, filaree, some sky lupine, lomatium and blow-wives can be found. Along the canopy area, look for a few sky lupine and miniature lupine, fiddleneck, fillaree, hummingbird sage and wild cucumber, I also saw a couple of new flowers/plants that I had not seen in that area before, so keep an eye out for a few California chickory and lacepods.
As you continue to climb the mountain, stunning orange California poppies are starting to bloom along the road and on the rocky hillsides. Also look for jimsonweed, Mexican elderberry, fillaree, wild cucumber, prickly phlox, buttercup, blue dick, mustard, some sky lupine, golden yarrow, buckwheat, wall flowers, fiddleneck, Catalina mariposa lilies peaking through the grass and, in the shaded areas along the rocky hillsides, wild canyon peas. Please note how bare and dry Grass Mountain is.
At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), you can see the remains of a scattering of shooting stars and chocolate lilies but beautiful blue-eyed grass is making an appearance, along with a sprinkling of goldfields and filaree.
In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, poppies can be found, along with blue dick, golden yarrow and a few 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. Check out all of the beautiful orange wall flowers waiting to dance.
At this point...look straight ahead on the rocky hillsides and SURPRISE!!!!...orange patches of California poppies can be seen. This is about the only place that the poppies are really showing off.
After a half mile further, the famous poppy hillside poppies are looking really nice. They certainly aren’t carpeting the hillside, but it’s the closest I’ve seen in years. Bush Lupine are also blooming beautifully throughout this area and the hillsides.
From this point, up to the Davy Brown Trailhead, one will find more poppies, bush lupine and phacelias.
As you continue up the road to the gate at Ranger Peak, not a whole lot is in bloom, but you will see some poppies, bush lupine, sky lupine, a few carpets of goldfields, buttercups and golden yarrow.
Halfway up Ranger Peak, in the shady area, baby blue eyes, fiddleneck and phacelias are making an appearance.
At the gate where the road to Ranger Peak begins to go up the hill, only some miniature lupine and bush lupine can be seen. As you go up the hill to Ranger Peak, aside of a few poppies, nothing else is really happening.
The stretch between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is quite the showcase! The bush lupine is in full bloom and in areas, the bushes line both sides of the road. Be sure and keep your windows rolled down so that you can enjoy the breathtaking aroma produced by these beauties. The other flowers that are quite a showstopper along this stretch are the gorgeous yellow bush poppies. They look absolutely stunning along the rocky hillsides. Also look for golden yarrow, popcorn flower, wild canyon peas, fiddleneck, Indian paintbrush, scarlet buglers, purple sage and clematis. Some clarkia “farewell to spring” were spotted...hmmm...is nature telling us something?
Sunset Valley has some blooms, but not very many. It has mostly tuft poppies, caterpillar phacelias, a few Nuttles- Larkspurs, bush lupine, purple nightshade, blue dick and Mexican elderberry. Some bush poppies are also in bloom and a couple of clarkia “farewell to spring” are also starting to appear.
Happy Canyon’s wildflowers are also starting to wake up. Look for tuft poppies, vetch, golden yarrow, bush lupine, bush poppies, Mexican elderberry, purple sage, a plethora of clematis, wild cucumber, canyon wild peas, stinging lupine, popcorn flower, purple nightshade, fiddleneck and buckwheat. Between the two creek crossing, the grassy field on the right has some beautiful orange California poppies but not as many as last year. Continuing along the road in the shaded areas you will see stunning fiesta flowers, vetch and blue dick blooming in the grass. On the rocky areas, beyond the shaded fields, look for prickly phlox, gorgeous red Indian paintbrush, fiesta flowers, vetch and wild canyon peas. Continuing down the hill, in the areas of full sun, you can find royal lupine, occasional poppies and mustard. Also, look in the grassy fields and find striking Catalina mariposa poppies in bloom.
The Chicken Springs area has a nice display of beautiful California poppies in bloom, but not quite as many as it did last year and the year before though.
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, mariposa lilies, some sky lupine, mariposa lilies and clematis.
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@example.com.