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The California Wildflower Hotline Makes a Return

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Today the Theodore Payne Foundation's 27th annual Wildflower Hotline debuted for the season, which will basically last through May. Every Friday, Emmy award winning actor Joe Spano of Hill Street Blues narrates the wildflower conditions starting in the southern deserts and climbing north along the coast to Central California. It's pretty thorough (listen for yourself at 818-768-3533) so the reports are also posted online with links. Here's what's going on in the direct Los Angeles area:

In Los Angeles at the Audubon Center at Debs Park a walk along the Scrub Jay Trail will reveal blooms from Rhus integrifolia (lemonade berry), Rhamnus ilicifolia (holly-leaved redberry), Lupinus succulentus (arroyo lupine), as well as early blooms of Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida (caterpillar phacelia) and Phacelia brachyloba (yellow-throated phacelia). North of Topanga State Park off of the 101 FWY venture to Caballero Canyon where a trek along the along the Bent Arrow Trail East (heading towards Gismo Peak) will reveal a beautiful flowering show, including Salvia columbariae (chia), Encelia californica (coast bush sunflower), Amsinckia menziesii (fiddleneck), Ceanothus spinosus (greenbark ceanothus), a variety of Ribes (currant) and Cryptantha species (popcorn flowers).

Heading back to the coast near Malibu at Solstice Canyon along the Sunrise Trail search for white to cream blooms of Clematis lasiantha (virgin's bower or chaparral clematis) popping red from Castilleja affinis (Indian paintbrush), a myriad of Phacelia and Lupine species, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus (popcorn flower), Dichelostemma pulchellum (blue dicks) and Vicia sativa (spring vetch).

Also in the Malibu area, the Charmlee Wilderness Park has a marvelous show including: Gnaphalium bicolor (two-toned everlasting), Helianthemum scoparius (common rock-rose), Lathyrus laetifloris (canyon pea), Dodecantheon clevelandii (Padre's shooting star), and many more, so definitely worth a visit!

The wildflower season can actually run into June and July if you're looking at higher elevations such as in the Sierras, Lili Singer of the foundation told us over the phone. As for how they get all this data? "We do this with the kindness of strangers."