FLOWERING PLANTS OF FISH CANYON,
SAN GABRIEL MTS
Photographs by Michael Charters





Fish Canyon above the city of Azusa is and has been for generations one of the most popular hiking destinations in the front range of the San Gabriels. Unlike canyons elsewhere such as the Arroyo Seco where cabins were destroyed by the great flood of 1938, Fish Canyon's 100 or so cabins survived until a fire in 1958 and subsequent winter flooding. Today all the cabins are gone and little remains to indicate their former presence. Although some introduced vegetation has flourished there, much of the area has reverted to its wild state, and the canyon is even host to extremely rare native plants. From the mid-1980's until recently, access to this area was either non-existent or severely curtailed due to operations of a rock quarry at the mouth of the canyon. For some years the only way into the canyon was on a brutal and poorly-maintained trail high over Van Tassel Ridge. That trail is now closed, but thanks to a cooperative effort of the Vulcan Materials Company and the City of Azusa, fueled in no small part by public demands for greater access, a trail that passes through the Vulcan property has now been set aside which leads directly to the Fish Canyon trailhead, and once again the canyon is open to everyone. Hours are October-Mar 7-5 and April-September 7-7.

Almost all the taxa represented here have been observed by me in Fish Canyon, whether blooming or not. The five with a (V) after the Latin name are included based on vouchers that were collected May 18, 2000 by Scott White and Pam DeVries. Taxa with a (VTR) next to the name were seen on the trail up Van Tassel Ridge. Visits to Fish Canyon were made on 5/7/05, 6/9/05, 5/10/13, 2/23/15, 2/27/15, 3/3/15, 3/13/15, 3/19/15, 3/23/15, 4/10/15, 4/22/15, 5/21/15, 6/12/15 and 4/6/16. An asterisk next to the common name indicates a non-native taxon.

For more information about the trail and descriptions of his many hikes in Fish Canyon, check out Dan Simpson's page here. A complete list of species we have seen in Fish Canyon is here.

UPDATE: Regrettably, Fish Canyon was consumed in the Fish Fire on May 20, 2016, and undoubtedly the trail was heavily damaged and will continue to be damaged due to erosion from the steep slopes and debris flow, so it will probably be years before it is once again open to the public.


Acer
 
Big-leaf maple
Acer macrophyllum
Sapindaceae
(Soapberry family)
April-May
 
     
 

Achillea
 
Yarrow
Achillea millefolium
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
March-September
 
     
 

Acmispon
 
Short-winged deerweed
Acmispon glaber var. brevialatus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-August
 
 
Common deerweed
Acmispon glaber var. glaber
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-August

 
Coastal lotus
Acmispon maritimus var. maritimus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-June
 
 
Strigose lotus
Acmispon strigosus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-June

Acourtia
 
Sacapellote, Purple Heads
Acourtia microcephala
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
June-August
 
     
 

Adenostoma
 
Chamise
Adenostoma fasciculatum var. fasciculatum
Rosaceae
(Rose family)
May-June
 
     
 

Agave
 
American agave *
Agave americana
Agavaceae
(Agave family)
Fall
 
     
 

Ageratina
 
Thoroughwort *
Ageratina adenophora
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
Most months
 
     
 

Allium
 
Peninsular onion
Allium peninsulare var. peninsulare
Alliaceae
(Onion family)
March-June
 
     
 

Alnus
 
White alder
Alnus rhombifolia
Betulaceae (Birch family)
January-April
 
     
 

Anthriscus
 
Bur-chervil *
Anthriscus caucalis
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
April-June
 
     
 

Artemisia
 
California sagebrush
Artemisia californica
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
August-December
 
 
Mugwort
Artemisia douglasiana
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
June-October

Asclepias
 
Indian milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa
Apocynaceae
(Dogbane family)
June-August
 
     
 

Avena
 
Slender oats *
Avena barbata
Poaceae
(Grass family)
March-June
 
     
 

Baccharis
 
Mulefat (L: female flowers; R: male flowers)
Baccharis salicifolia ssp. salicifolia
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
February-October
 
     
 

Bidens
 
Common beggar-ticks *
Bidens pilosa
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
May-November
 
     
 

Bloomeria
 
Golden stars
Bloomeria crocea var. crocea
Themidaceae
(Brodiaea family)
April-June
 
     
 

Brickellia
 
California brickellbush
Brickellia californica
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
August-October
 
     
 

Bromus
 
Ripgut brome *
Bromus diandrus
Poaceae
(Grass family)
April-June
 
     
 

Calochortus
 
Fairy lantern, White globe lily
Calochortus albus
Liliaceae
(Lily family)
April-June
 
 
Plummer's mariposa lily
Calochortus plummerae
Liliaceae
(Lily family)
May-July

Calystegia
 
Southern California morning glory
Calystegia macrostegia var. arida
Convolvulaceae
(Morning glory family)
May-June
 
     
 

Cardamine
 
Milkmaids
Cardamine californica
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
February-May
 
 
Bitter cress
Cardamine oligosperma
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-July

Carduus
 
Italian thistle *
Carduus pycnocephalus ssp. pycnocephalus
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
May-July
 
     
 

Ceanothus
 
Hairy ceanothus
Ceanothus oliganthus var. oliganthus
Rhamnaceae
(Buckthorn family)
February-April
 
     
 

Centaurea
 
Tocalote *
Centaurea melitensis
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
May-June
 
     
 

Cercocarpus
 
Birch-leaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides
Rosaceae
(Rose family)
March-April
 
     
 

Chaenactis
 
White pincushion (VTR)
Chaenactis artemisiifolia
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
April-July
 
 
Yellow pincushion
Chaenactis glabriuscula var. glabriuscula
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
March-June

Chamaesyce
 
Red-gland spurge
Chamaesyce melanadenia
Euphorbiaceae
(Spurge family)
December-May
 
     
 

Cirsium
 
California thistle
Cirsium occidentale var. californicum
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
April-July
 
     
 

Clarkia
 
Farewell-to-spring
Clarkia bottae
Onagraceae
(Evening primrose family)
April-June
 
 
Dudley's clarkia (V)
Clarkia dudleyana
Onagraceae (Evening primrose family)
May-July

 
Elegant clarkia
Clarkia unguiculata
Onagraceae (Evening primrose family)
May-June
 
     
 


Claytonia
 
Miner's lettuce
Claytonia perfoliata ssp. ?
Montiaceae
(Miner's lettuce family)
February-June
 
     
 

Clematis
 
Pipestems
Clematis lasiantha
Ranunculaceae
(Buttercup family)
Mar-June
 
     
 

Corethrogyne
 
California-aster
Corethrogyne filaginifolia
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
June-December
 
     
 

Cotula
 
Australian brass buttons * (V)
Cotula australis
Asteraceae

January-May
 
     
 

Cryptantha
 
Large-flowered cryptantha
Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
March-July
 
 
Tejon cryptantha (V)
Cryptantha microstachys
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
March-June

Cuscuta
 
Canyon dodder
Cuscuta subinclusa
Convolvulaceae
(Morning glory family)
June-October
 
     
 

Datura
 
Sacred datura
Datura wrightii
Solanaceae
(Nightshade family)
April-October
 
     
 

Delairea
 
Cape-ivy*
Delairea odorata
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
December-March
 
     
 

Delphinium
 
Scarlet larkspur
Delphinium cardinale
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
May-July
 
 
Spreading larkspur
Delphinium patens ssp. hepaticoideum
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
February-May

Dichelostemma
 
Blue dicks
Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum
Themidaceae (Brodiaea family)
February-May
 
     
 

Dudleya
 
San Gabriel River dudleya (RARE SPECIES) (V)
Dudleya cymosa ssp. crebrifolia
Crassulaceae (Stonecrop family)
June-July
 
 
Low canyon dudleya
Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila
Crassulaceae
(Stonecrop family)
April-July

 
San Gabriel Mountains dudleya (RARE SPECIES)
Dudleya densiflora
Crassulaceae
(Stonecrop family)
June-July
 
 
Lanceleaf dudleya
Dudleya lanceolata
Crassulaceae
(Stonecrop family)
May-July

Encelia
 
Brittlebush
Encelia farinosa
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
March-May
 
     
 

Epilobium
 

Hoary fuchsia
Epilobium canum ssp. canum
Onagraceae
(Evening primrose family)
August-October

 
     
 

Eriastrum
 
Sapphire woolstar
Eriastrum sapphirinum
Polemoniaceae
(Phlox family)
June-August
 
     
 

Erigeron
 
Leafy daisy
Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
May-July
 
     
 

Eriodictyon
 
Thickleaf yerba santa
Eriodictyon crassifolium var. crassifolium
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
April-June
 
     
 

Eriogonum
 
Long-stemmed buckwheat
Eriogonum elongatum var. elongatum
Polygonaceae
(Buckwheat family)
August-November
 
 
Leafy buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum
Polygonaceae
(Buckwheat family)
April-November

Eriophyllum
 
Golden yarrow
Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
March-August
 
     
 

Erodium
 
Red-stem filaree *
Erodium cicutarium
Geraniaceae
(Geranium family)
February-May
 
     


Erysimum
 
Western wallflower
Erysimum capitatum var. capitatum
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-July
 
     


Eschscholzia
 
Tufted poppy
Eschscholzia caespitosa
Papaveraceae
(Poppy family)
March-June
 
 
California poppy
Eschscholzia californica
Papaveraceae
(Poppy family)
February-September

Eucrypta
 
Common eucrypta
Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
March-June
 
     
 

Eulobus
 
California sun cup, Mustard evening primrose
Eulobus californicus
Onagraceae
(Evening primrose family)
April-May
 
     
 

Euphorbia
 
Petty spurge *
Euphorbia peplus
Euphorbiaceae
(Spurge family)
May-July
 
     
 

Frangula
 
Coffeeberry
Frangula californica ssp. californica
Rhamnaceae
(Buckthorn family)
May-July
 
     
 

Fraxinus
 
California ash
Fraxinus dipetala
Oleaceae
(Olive family)
March-June
 
     
 

Funastrum (= Sarcostemma)
 
Climbing milkweed (VTR)
Funastrum cynanchoides var. hartwegii
Apocynaceae
April-July
 
     
 

Galium
 
Narrow-leaved bedstraw
Galium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium
Rubiaceae
(Madder family)
April-June
 
 
Annual bedstraw
Galium aparine
Rubiaceae (Madder family)

March-July

Gilia
 
Globe gilia
Gilia capitata ssp. abrotanifolia
Polemoniaceae
(Phlox family)
April-July
 
     
 

Helianthus
 
Common sunflower
Helianthus annuus
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
February-October
 
     
 

Hesperoyucca
 
Chaparral yucca
Hesperoyucca whipplei
Agavaceae
(Agave family)
April-June
 
     
 

Heteromeles
 
Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia
Rosaceae
(Rose family)
June-July
 
     
 

Heterotheca
 
Telegraph weed
Heterotheca grandiflora
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
June-October
 
     
 

Hirschfeldia
 
Shortpod mustard, Mediterranean mustard *
Hirshcfeldia incana
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
May-October
 
     
 

Hypochaeris
 
Rough cat's ear *
Hypochaeris radicata
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
May-November
 
 
Smooth cat's ear *
Hypochaeris glabra
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
March-June

Keckiella
 
Heartleaf penstemon
Keckiella cordifolia
Plantaginaceae
(Plantain family)
May-July
 
     
 

Lactuca
 
Prickly lettuce *
Lactuca serriola
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
May-September
 
     
 

Lemarckia
 
Goldentop grass
Lamarckia aurea
Poaceae
(Grass family)
February-May
 
     
 

Lathyrus
 
Canyon sweet pea, Pacific pea
Lathyrus vestitus var. vestitus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
April-June
 
     
 

Lepidium
 
Wild peppergrass
Lepidium virginicum ssp. menziesii
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-August
 
     
 

Lilium
 
Humboldt lily
Lilium humboldtii ssp. ocellatum
Liliaceae
(Lily family)
June-July
 
     
 

Lithophragma
 
Woodland star (V)
Lithophragma affine
Saxifragaceae
(Saxifrage family)
February-June
 
 
Bolander's woodland star
Lithophragma bolanderi
Saxifragaceae
(Saxifrage family)
February-July

Lomatium
 
Shiny lomatium
Lomatium lucidum
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
January-April
 
     
 

Lonicera
 
Southern honeysuckle
Lonicera subspicata var. denudata
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)
April-June
 
     
 

Lupinus
 
Stinging lupine
Lupinus hirsutissimus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-May
 
 
Collar lupine
Lupinus truncatus
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
March-May

Malacothamnus
 
Bush mallow
Malacothamnus fasciculatus
Malvaceae

April-July
 
     
 

Malacothrix
 
Short-leaved cliff aster
Malacothrix saxatilis var. tenuifolia
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
April-August
 
     
 

Malosma
 
Laurel sumac
Malosma laurina
Anacardiaceae
(Sumac family)
June-July
 
     
 

Marah
 
Wild cucumber
Marah macrocarpa
Cucurbitaceae
(Gourd family)
January-April
 
     
 

Medicago
 
Black medick *
Medicago lupulina
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
April-July
 
     
 

Melilotus
 
Sourclover *
Melilotus indica
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
April-October
 
 
White sweetclover *
Melilotus albus
Fabaceae (Pea family)
May-September

Mentzelia
 
Giant blazing star
Mentzelia laevicaulis
Loasaceae
(Loasa family)
June-October
 
 
Stickleaf
Mentzelia micrantha
Loasaceae
(Loasa family)
April-May

Micranthes
 
California saxifrage
Micranthes californica
Saxifragaceae
(Saxifrage family)
February-June
 
     
 

Mimulus
   

   
Bush or sticky monkeyflower
Mimulus aurantiacus
Phrymaceae
(Lopseed family)
March-June
 
The case of Mimulus aurantiacus in Fish Canyon well illustrates the difficulty of determining what variants of a species are being observed, or whether in fact the separation of plants into variants is in all cases a legitimate process. The pictures in the second row were all taken from plants that were practically touching each other. In the Jepson Manual 1st edition the Mimulus author David Thompson says "Highly complex, with many intergrading, hybridizing, local forms," then lists five of the most distinct forms. The same author in JM2 says only "Complex, vars. intergrading, hybridizing," and lists six recognized variants. According to the key, only vars. parviflorus (a Channel Island taxon) and puniceus have red flowers, but they both key under "Lower leaf surface glabrous, not paler than upper," neither of which characteristic apply to the above plants. The two variants that key under "Lower leaf surface puberulent to densely hairy, generally paler than upper" are var. aurantiacus which is not supposed to be in Southern California and var. pubescens which has a hairy calyx that the above plants don't have. So the bottom line is that these plants do not fit either the keys or the descriptions, and thus cannot be determined as to variant. The pictures below show a hairy calyx which appears to fit Mimulus aurantiacus var. pubescens, so there's a lot of variety of this species in Fish Canyon.
 
   
Hairy bush monkeyflower
Mimulus aurantiacus var. pubescens
Phrymaceae
(Lopseed family)
March-June

 
Scarlet monkeyflower
Mimulus cardinalis
Phrymaceae
(Lopseed family)
April-October
 
 
Creek monkeyflower
Mimulus guttatus
Phrymaceae
(Lopseed family)
March-August

Mirabilis
 
Wishbone bush
Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia
Nyctaginaceae
(Four o'clock family)
December-June
 
     
 

Nasturtium
 
Watercress
Nasturtium officinale
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)
March-November
 
     
 

Nemophila
 
Baby blue eyes
Nemophila menziesii var. menziesii
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
February-June
 
     
 

Nicotiana
 
Tree tobacco *
Nicotiana glauca
Solanaceae
April-September
 
     
 

Opuntia
 
Vasey's prickly pear
Opuntia Xvaseyi (O. littoralis x O. phaecantha)
Cactaceae (Cactus family)
May-June
 
     
 

Oxalis
 
Bermuda buttercup *
Oxalis pes-caprae
Oxalidaceae (Oxalis family)
November-March
 
     
 

Pennisetum
 
Fountaingrass *
Pennisetum setaceum
Poaceae (Grass family)
July-October
 
     
 

Penstemon
 
Foothill penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus
Plantaginaceae
(Plantain family)
April-June
 
 
Showy penstemon (VTR)
Penstemon spectabilis
Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)
April-June

Phacelia
 
Caterpillar phacelia
Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida
Boraginaceae (Borage family)
March-June
 
 
Large-flowered phacelia
Phacelia grandiflora
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
April-June

 
Canterbury bells
Phacelia minor
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
March-June
 
 
Branching phacelia
Phacelia ramosissima
Boraginaceae (Borage family)
March-September

 
Longstalk phacelia
Phacelia longipes
Boraginaceae
(Borage family)
April-July
   

Platanus
 
Western sycamore
Platanus racemosa
Platanaceae
(Sycamore family)
February-April
 
     
 

Prunus
 
Hollyleaf cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia
Rosaceae
(Rose family)
April-May
 
     
 

Pseudognaphalium
 
Two-tone everlasting
Pseudognaphalium biolettii
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
January-May
 
 
California everlasting
Pseudognaphalium californicum
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
January-July

 
Feltleaf everlasting
Pseudognaphalium microcephalum
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
July-October
 
     
 

Pterostegia
 
Threadstem
Pterostegia drymarioides
Polygonaceae
(Buckwheat family)
March-July
 
     
 

Quercus
 
Coast live oak
Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia
Fagaceae (Oak family)
March-April
 
 
Canyon live oak
Quercus chrysolepis
Fagaceae (Oak family)
April-May

Rafinesquia
 
California chicory
Rafinesquia californica
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
April-July
 
     
 

Rhamnus
 
Hollyleaf redberry
Rhamnus ilicifolia
Rhamnaceae
(Buckthorn family)
March-June
 
     
 

Rhus
 
Lemonadeberry
Rhus integrifolia
Anacardiaceae
(Sumac family)
February-May
 
 
Sugar bush
Rhus ovata
Anacardiaceae
(Sumac family)
March-May

Ribes
 
Hillside gooseberry
Ribes californicum var. hesperium
Grossulariaceae
(Gooseberry family)
January-March
 
 
Chaparral currant
Ribes malvaceum var. viridifolium
Grossulariaceae
(Gooseberry family)
January-May

Ricinus
 
Castor bean (L: female flowers; R: male flowers) *
Ricinus communis
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Most months
 
     
 

Romneya
 
Matilija poppy
Romneya coulteri
Papaveraceae (Poppy family)
May-July
 
     
 

Rubus
 
Himalaya-berry *
Rubus armeniacus
Rosaceae (Rose family)
May-July
 
     
 

Saltugilia
 
Southern gilia
Saltugilia australis
Polemoniaceae
(Phlox family)
March-June
 
     
 

Salvia
 
White sage
Salvia apiana
Lamiaceae
(Mint family)
April-July
 
 
Black sage
Salvia mellifera
Lamiaceae
(Mint family)
April-July

Sambucus
 
Mexican elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea
Adoxaceae
(Muskroot family)
March-September
 
     
 

Sanicula
 
Snakeroot (V)
Sanicula arguta
Apiaceae (Carrot)
March-April
 
 
Turkey pea
Sanicula tuberosa
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
March-June

Senecio
 
Common groundsel *
Senecio vulgaris
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
Most months
 
     
 

Schinus
 
Peruvian pepper *
Schinus molle
Anacardiaceae
(Sumac family)
Spring
 
     
 

Silene
 
Mexican pink
Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata
Caryophyllaceae
(Pink family)
May-July
 
 
Windmill pink *
Silene gallica
Caryophyllaceae
(Pink family)
February-June

Sisymbrium
 
Hedge mustard *
Sisymbrium officinale
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
April-July
 
 
Oriental mustard *
Sisymbrium orientale
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
April-July

Solanum
 
White nightshade
Solanum douglasii
Solanaceae
(Nightshade family)
Most of the year
 
 
Purple nightshade
Solanum xanti
Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
February-June

Solidago
 
California goldenrod
Solidago velutina ssp. californica
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
July-October
 
     
 

Sonchus
 
Sow-thistle *
Sonchus oleraceus
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
Most months
 
     
 

Spartium
 
Spanish broom *
Spartium junceum
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
April-June
 
     
 

Stachys
 
White hedge-nettle
Stachys albens
Lamiaceae (Mint family)
May-October
 
     
 

Stellaria
 
Chickweed *
Stellaria media
Caryophyllaceae
(Pink family)
February-September
 
     
 


Stephanomeria
 
Chicory-leaved stephanomeria
Stephanomeria cichoriacea
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
August-October
 
     
 

Thysanocarpus
 
Fringe-pod
Thysanocarpus curvipes
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-May
 
     
 

Torilis
 
Field hedge-parsley *
Torilis arvensis
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-May
 
     
 

Toxicodendron
 
Western poison oak
Toxicodendron diversilobum
Anacardiaceae
(Sumac family)
March-May
 
     
 

Turritis
 
Tower mustard
Turritis glabra
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
March-July
 
     
 

Umbellularia
 
California bay
Umbellularia californica
Lauraceae
(Laurel family)
December-May
 
     
 

Uropappus
 
Silver puffs
Uropappus lindleyi
Asteraceae
(Sunflower family)
April-June
 
     
 

Vinca
 
Periwinkle *
Vinca major
Apocynaceae
(Dogbane family)
March-July
 
     
 

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