This subspecies of Alpine Gold (Hulsea vestita subsp. gabrielensis) is restricted to the gravelly bases of talus slopes in the high mountains. It blooms in June and July.


When to See Wildflowers in Southern California

The southern California wildflower season is similar to the New England fall foliage season in that it is seasonal and localized, but it differs in three outstanding ways:

the geographic extent of the bloom is much larger

the time spread is much longer

the variety of what you can see is much greater

The Geographic Extent

from Needles on the California - Arizona border in the eastern Mojave Desert to the Channel Islands west of Santa Barbara

from the beaches of San Diego next to the Mexican border in the south to the Sierran foothills of Kern County in the north

from Big Bear Valley at seven thousand feet in the high San Bernardino Mountains to the coastal lowlands of Malibu Lagoon to below sea level in Death Valley

The Time Spread

The wildflower season usually begins in FEBRUARY at the lowest elevations at the lowest latitudes, that is the COLORADO DESERT

Next, the low elevation COASTAL areas begin reporting flowers in early MARCH,

followed by the FOOTHILLS in MID MARCH,

then the MOJAVE DESERT [high desert] in early APRIL,

and finally, in MAY, the HIGH MOUNTAINS report their blooms.

The Variety

ephemerals [annuals] in the desert, carpets of color, like sand verbena and California poppy

shrubs with masses of bloom, like California lilac and manzanita

perennials like purple nightshade and virgin's bower

fire followers like the big flowered phacelia

cacti like beavertail with bright magenta blooms

Effects of the Weather

2001 (as of March 15)

late-season March rains and cool temperatures have delayed or prolonged bloom in shrubs

hoaryleaf ceanothus which usually begins in late January is only just budding out

currants and gooseberries, both winter-bloomers, on the other hand, are still blooming, specifically, golden currant

desert annuals are blooming more profusely this year than last

winter-blooming flowers in the mustard family are still being reported in large numbers; it is a fantastic year for milkmaids and tansy mustard, the native Californian mustard

most foothill areas (around 2000 feet) are delayed


sparse bloom everywhere in southern California; low rainfall this season

2003 (as of the biginning of March)

winter blooming annuals, especially the Brassicaceae, flowered on very short stems, even though November and December rains brought green to the hillsides, it did not rain in January

the low deserts are not reporting great carpets of flowers

the southern Sierras, both sides, seems to have benefited from the storm tracks so far this season

sporadic February rains have made the mustards and grasses very lush covering up the early native wildflowers

lupines and lotuses seem to have benefited from the timing of the rains

Outlook for 2007

about normal in the mountains

the shrubs like ceanothus and manzanita are already in bloom in March

the exotics like grasses and mustards are sparser and shorter

the native wildflowers like lupine and clarkia have sprouted in March


Related pages:

When to See Wildflowers in Southern California

Where for Find Wildflowers in the San Gabriel Mountains

Back Roads with Fall Foliage in October and November

text on this page is Copyright © 2008-2021 Jane Strong.

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