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. Non-native taxa are identified with an asterisk. 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.

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, and the photo gallery of our May 2013 visit to 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
 
Acer macrophyllum
Big-leaf maple
Sapindaceae
(Soapberry family)
April-May
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilobium
 

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

 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Euphorbia
 
Euphorbia peplus *
Petty spurge
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
February-August
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malacothamnus
 
Malacothamnus fasciculatus
Bush mallow
Malvaceae
(Mallow family)
April-July
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

Melilotus
 
Melilotus albus *
White sweetclover
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
Most months
 
 
Melilotus indicus *
Sourclover
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
April-October

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

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

Mimulus
   

   
Mimulus aurantiacus
Bush or sticky monkeyflower
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.
 
   
Mimulus aurantiacus var. pubescens
Hairy bush monkeyflower
Phrymaceae
(Lopseed family)
March-June

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

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

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

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

Nicotiana
 
Nicotiana glauca *
Tree tobacco
Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
April-September
 
     
 

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

Oxalis
 
Oxalis californica
Wild oxalis
Oxalidaceae (Wood-sorrel family)
February-June
 
 
Oxalis pes-caprae *
Bermuda buttercup
Oxalidaceae
(Wood-sorrel family)
November-March


Papaver
 
Papaver heterophyllum
Wind poppy
Papaveraceae
(Poppy family)
April-May
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ricinus
 
Ricinus communis *
Castor bean
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Most months
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torilis
 
Torilis arvensis *
Field hedge-parsley
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
March-July
 
     
 

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright @ 2015-2016 by Michael L. Charters.
The photographs contained in this website may not be reproduced without the express consent of the author.