32nd Annual Wild Flower Hotline

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Welcome to the 32nd Annual Wild Flower Hotline, brought to you by the Theodore Payne Foundation, a non-profit plant nursery, seed source, book store, and education center dedicated to the preservation of wild flowers and California native plants. This a report for March 21, 2014. New reports will be posted each Friday through the end of May.

The Mojave Desert is still the place to be this week, although I will include a few more good sights as many of you are starting Spring Break and may want to explore other areas as well.

Let’s start with our first report from the Southern Sierra near Sequoia & Kings

Canyon National Parks. The park region has had a dry season. Blooming appears to be early and short, but along Hwy 198 near Sequoia National Park

look for Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) in full bloom now. There have been spotty sightings of silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons) as well. There are bright orange patches of fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) and the California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are just starting to appear.

Further north at Yosemite/Hetch Hetchy, flowers are starting to bloom, but it is still early in the season. Because of the Rim Fire last year, the only trail available is the one from the dam to Wapama and Rancheria Falls.  (The trail to Poopenaut Valley is closed.)  In the moist areas look for red maids (Calandrinia ciliata), and a few harlequin lupines (Lupinus stiversii), which are just getting started.  Some of the larger pools of flowing water still contain Sierra newts (Taricha sierrae). OK, not a flower, but still pretty cool! The first mile or so of the Hite Cove trail has many patches of tufted poppies (Eschscholzia caespitosa), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus), fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), and red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) in the sunnier areas, and Henderson's shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii) in the more sheltered areas. There are also patches of baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) where the conditions are right.  The western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) are starting to bloom in earnest along the trail, and in the Merced River canyon.  If mosquitoes bother you, be prepared, because they’re coming out in force along this trail.

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Tufted poppies (Eschscholzia caespitosa). Photo by Randall Brynsvold
Across the Valley to Pinnacles National Park, recent rains woke up a few dormant plants launching the blooming season. Look for milk maids (Cardamine californica var. californica) in moist, riparian habitats an red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) in sunnier open meadows. A few shooting stars (Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. patulum) in shade under the oaks and along the Old Pinnacles trail. Two red beauties include Indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis ssp. affinis) and Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora). And if blue is your color, the silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) and blue witch (Solanum umbeliferum) can be seen along the sunny, dry slopes.

Scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius). Placerita Canyon. Photo by Charitha Eragoda.
This week at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, the vegetation is greening up and the following plants are in bloom along the trails: Scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius), baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), hairy ceanothus (Ceanothus oliganthus), Western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), and purple nightshade (Solanum sp.).
Along the Angeles Crest Hwy, Big and Little Tujunga Canyon Roads in the Angeles National Forest, the bloom is staring at the low elevations below 2500 feet. Along the roadsides, look for hoary-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) and hairy ceanothus (Ceanothus oliganthus). Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea)) and lemonade-berry (Rhus integrifolia), and what seems very early blooming yerba santa (Eriodictyon trichocalyx) are now in flower. There are some patches of lupine (Lupinus spp.) and Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) as well.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont has some nice trails on the mesa that show off the coral bells (Heuchera cultivars) in all their shades of reds and pinks and echo the shades of pinks in the Western redbuds. Native iris cultivars in every hue of blue, lavender and purple are brightening up the spaces under the oaks. The ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.)and the island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii) paint a nice California blue and gold palette.
The habitat gardens at the Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy are benefitting greatly from the recent rains. In the Mojave/Sonoran Desert Habitat Garden there are:  Goldfields (Lasthenia sp), Owls Clover (Castilleja sp.), Chia (Castilleja sp.), Thistle Sage (Salvia carduacea),Canterbury Bells (Phacelia campanularia), Desert Blue Bells, Mojave Sun Cup, Mojave Lupine (Lupinus ordoratus),California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Desert Gold Poppy (Eschscholzia parishii), Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Cryptantha, Desert Pincushion (Chaenactis sp.), Brittle Bush (Encelia farinosa), Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi), Chuparosa (Justicia californica) and Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea).
The Chaparral/Sage Scrub Habitat Garden has the rare Santa Rosa Island white-felted Indian paintbrush (Castilleja lanata hololeuca), woolly Indian paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa), San Diego sunflower (Hulsea californica), Santa Barbara Island giant coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantia), Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), prickly poppy (Argemone sp.), tidy-tips (Layia glandulosa) and arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus).
New this year is the Vernal Pool Complex Habitat Garden. It has San Diego coyote thistle (Eryngium sp.), Otay Mesa mint (Pogogyne nudiuscula) and some other vernal pool endemics growing on the outer edges of the five pools. Look for San Diego fairy shrimp swimming around in the pools. The water will last another week or two...so if you want to see fairy shrimp, come sooner than later. Visitors can check in at the Main Office and get a visitor pass. We are open from 8:00am to 4:00pm Mon - Fri. We are located in Cudahy on Elizabeth Street between Atlantic and Wilcox.
The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach has several species of our favorite perennials blooming now. Enjoy the fuchsia-flowering gooseberry (Ribes speciosum), California encelia (Encelia californica), Mexican flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), Island snapdragon (Galvesia speciosa), red monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and woolly blue-curls (Trichostema lanatum). There are blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), swaths of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and patches of baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) in the grassland area.

The Natural Resources Specialist at the Mojave National Preserve sent a long list of wonderful wildflowers blooming now along Kelbaker Road and in the vicinity of the Kelso Dunes. She suggests driving between Baker (I-15) and I-40 on Kelbaker Road would make a delightful day trip. On weekends, always think of Las Vegas traffic coming and going on the I-15. Here is the list

Desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata), Fremont pincushion (Chaenactis fremontii),

desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), forget-me-not (Cryptantha spp.),

spectacle pod (Dithyrea californica), desert alyssum (Lepidium fremontii), brown-eyed primrose (Chylismia claviformis), evening primrose (Oenothera californica),

dune evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides), prickly poppy (Argemone corymbosa), evening snow (Linanthus dichotomus), Indian tobacco (Nicotiana quadrivalvis), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), brittlebush (Encelia farinosa),Wallace’s woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei), desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), checker fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellata), bladderpod (Peritoma arborea var. angustata), golden evening primrose (Chylismia brevipes), yellow evening primrose (Oenothera primiveris), desert gold-poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma), desert trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum var. inflatum), creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), desert Canterbury bell (Phacelia campanularia), notch-leaved Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), lace-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia distans), lupines (Lupinus spp.),chia (Salvia columbariae), Cooper’s broom-rape (Orobanche cooperi), turpentine broom (Thamnosma Montana), Gooding’s verbena (Verbena gooddingii), purple mat (Nama demissum), nipple cactus (Opuntia basilaris), beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), and desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). You know it’s a weird year when cacti are blooming in mid March!

Last week we got a report from a particularly good “wildflower alley” along Hwy 247 from Johnson Valley to Barstow. Further east is another great drive. It is along Camp Rock Road from south to north, from Lucerne Valley up to

I-40/Daggett. Apparently, it is a really nice desert drive. Among the many species seen were broad-leaf gilia (Aliciella latiflora), blazing star (Mentzelia sp.),

bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), some of the reddest globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) ever seen, notch-leaf phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Schott’s (Loeseliastrum schottii) and desert calico (Loeseliastrum matthewsii), Fremont’s phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), bajada (Lupinus concinnus) and Mojave lupine (Lupinus ordoratus), forget-me-nots (Cryptantha sp.), snake’s head (Malacothrix coulteri), spiny hop-sage (Grayia spinosa), cooper’s goldenbush (Ericameria cooperi), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), carpets of false woolly daisy (Eriophyllum sp.), common phacelia (Phacelia distans), desert Canterbury bells (Phacelia campanularia), Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) , Cooper dyssodia (Adenophyllum cooperi), Mojave aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia), narrowleaf goldenbush (Ericameria linearfolia), desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia), pincushion (Chaenactis sp.), Mojave tickseed (Leptosyne bigelovii), and beavertail cactus (Optunia basilaris). A few prickly poppies (Argemone corymbosa) can be found along Harrod Rd., just off of Camp Rock Rd., and Layne’s milkvetch (Astragalus layneae) along Hwy 247 in Johnson Valley.
The Desert dandelion and pincushion bloom is spreading nicely along Hwy 247 from Landers into Johnson Valley.

More reports from the I-40 corridor from Newberry Spring to the Mojave Desert Preserve tell of swaths of wild flowers—desert dandelion, san verbena, desert sunflower and others. One can exit and roam around in the Newberry Mountains Wilderness, Bristol Mountains Wilderness, the National Trails Hwy between Ludlow and Amboy; and again back up to I-40 and north into the Preserve. Use the lists of flowers above in the Camp Rock Road and the Mojave Desert Presere reports. Here are some great pictures taken by Laura Camp.




There are still good blooms to see around Nine Mile Canyon Road about 3/4 hr north of Ridgecrest along Hwy 395; and as far north as Haiwee Reservoir. Lots of bush lupine (Lupinus sp.) blooming in drainage of Indian Wells Canyon in the 2010 burn area.

lupine 1_compressed.jpgfive mile cyn desert dandelion flowers (4) 1_compressed (1).jpg

Lupines and desert danelions photo by Shelley Ellis, BLM Biologist

The west Mojave has good sightings of wild flowers as well. From Hwy. 138, east of Pearblossom, exit Avenue T, continue north to 170th Street and head for Saddleback Butte State Park.  Both sides of Avenue T are carpeted with various flowers:  goldfields (Lasthenia sp.), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Mohave sun-cups (Camissonia campestris), Parry's linanthus (Linanthus parryae) are among the commonest.  Also showy are, fiddlenecks (Amsinckia tessellata), phacelias (Phacelia spp.), broad-leaf gilia (Gilia latifolia), several species of popcorn flower and/or forget-me-nots (Plagiobothrys spp.), (Cryptantha spp.), and Bigelow's coreopsis (Leptosyne bigelovii).  This stretch along Avenue T and the area just south of Saddlback Butte to be the richest, flower-wise.

If you are visiting Joshua Tree National Park, enter through the West Entrance, North Entrance or south at Cottonwood for the best sightings of wildflowers. In addition, various species of cactus are beginning to bloom throughout the park. Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) and creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) provide the background color in the landscape. Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), fiddleneck (Amsinckia tesselata), chuparosa (Justicia californica), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) are showy with red and yellow. Sand fringepod (Thysanocarpus curipes), scented crypthantha (Cryptantha utahensis) white tidytips (Layia glandulosa), scorpionweed (Phacelia distans), chia (Salvia columbariae), Mojave desert parsley (Lomatium mohavense) and Canterbury bells (Phacelia campanularia), are scattered about with California evening primrose (Oenothera californica) and desert golden poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma). In the sandy washes and flats, lots of Wallace’s woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei) can be found. Pincushion (Chaenactis spp.) is everywhere and towering above the wild flowers, the Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) and Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera).

South of Joshua Tree NP, travel through Box Canyon to Mecca and the Salton Sea to see more amazing little canyons with flowers. Starting at the Shavers Well and south you will see Spanish needle (Palafoxia linearis), wild heliotrope (Phacelia sp.), climbing windmills (Allionia incarnata), Arizona lupine (Lupinus succulentus), chia (Salvia columbariae), desert poppy (Eschscholzia sp.), Mecca Aster (Xylohriza cognata), rush pea (Hoffmannseggia glauca), desert star vine (Brandegea bigelovii), jimson weed (Datura discolor), forget-me-not (Cryptantha spp.), ground cherry (Physalis crassifolia), pincushion (Chaenactis sp.), desert tobacco (Nicotiana obtusifolia), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), palo verde (Parkinsonia florida), brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), bladderpod (peritoma arborea), and desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi).

That’s it for this week. Look for our next report on Friday, March 28th and check back each week for the most up to date information on southern and central California wildflowers.

If you would like to be a wildflower reporter send your information about wildflower blooms and their location to flowerhotline@theodorepayne.org by Wednesday of each week when blooms of note occur.


Theodore Payne Foundation

Poppy Day Plant Sale

Saturday, March 29, 8:30am-4:30pm

An annual celebration of our State flower and huge native plant sale, offering the region’s largest and most interesting selection of California native plants – with expert advice and discounts to all!

TPF members 15% off plants; non-members 10%; memberships available at the door.


11th Annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour

Saturday & Sunday, April 5 & 6, 10:00am-5:00pm

Self-driven tour showcasing 42 beautiful and sustainable Los Angeles-area gardens, each planted with at least 50% California natives. New for 2014: contemporary art installations at 12 locations!  

Tickets: TPF members $15/both days; non-members $20. Purchase online (and see photos and details) at nativeplantgardentour.org, by phone to 818 768-1802 or in person at TPF.


Native Plant Week Symposium, Wildflower Show & Plant and Book Sale

Saturday, April 19, 9:00am-4:00pm

Cosponsored by the Theodore Payne Foundation and California Native Plant Society, LA/Santa Mountains Chapter

Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd, Encino 91436

A full day of inspiring talks, wild flower displays, exhibits, demonstrations, childrens’ activities, native plant sale, book and poster sales, and more! Free admission; snacks for sale. Details at lacnps.org.


Riverside County: Harford Springs Preserve Flower Walk. Saturday,

April 12, 9 am – 12:30 pm. Reservations: Call 951.785.7452
California Native Plant Society Events

Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter CNPS

North Etiwanda Preserve Field Trip Saturday, March 22, 9am to 1pm. Assemble in the parking area by the preserve entrance at the north end of Etiwanda Ave. This is the main access point to the trail system. The preserve is located north of Hwy 210 and Rancho Cucamonga at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. For trail map, see: http://sbcnep.org/

San Diego Chapter CNPS

Otay Mountain Wilderness, Saturday, March 22, 8:30 am. - 4:00 pm. Rain at 7 am cancels the field trip. Meet at 8:30 at the CA Dept. Fish and Wildlife Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, 14715 State Highway 94 in Jamul. Caravan from there. Send email to Kay at fieldtrips@cnps.org to reserve your spot. Kay’s number (619) 917-2668.

Los Angeles/SMM Chapter CNPS

Point Mugu State Park, 10:00 am, Sunday, March 23 - Ray Miller Trailhead Fire-following Wild Flower Walk. Bring water, snack, lunch (if you want to linger after the walk). Meet at the Ray Miller Trail from the La Jolla Valley

Trailhead parking lot; parking fee in the lot; park free on PCH

and walk in. Info: 818-782-9346. 2-3hrs.

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