Plant Guide to Laurel Canyon / Willow Canyon Road Loop, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

This is a working list, about which we make no guarantees at all until we officially release it. Use at your own risk!

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


The parking for this trail is for the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, on the north side of Laguna Canyon Road immediately west of the junction with El Toro Road. The parking lot is only open on the weekends from 8 am to 4 pm, and the entrance gate is locked at 4 pm!. So you must finish your hike there by 4 pm. The self-pay parking fee is $2, so unless you want to pay more, bring the exact amount.

The Laurel Canyon Trail is hiking only, but Willow Canyon Road is multiuse. A free map showing all the trails in the area, with detailed mileages, is available at the Ranger Station.

A guide to posts along the trail is available from the Ranger Station for $1. The plant guide here contains only a summary of the information for each post, given in parentheses.

(Rest of Intro to be added.)

Highlights of This Trail

The botanical highlights of this trail are:

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 71 trails in our database when this histogram was made; 3 of those trails, including this one, are at Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park or the adjoining Crystal Cove State Park. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in our database; numbers of "3" or smaller may indicate taxa found only in this area. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in our database.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa162100%

We found 12 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ? or sp in the id? column in the guide, and do not have any number given in the #all column.

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page (8 pages)

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
    Begin plant guide at the new trailhead for the Laurel Canyon Trail, between Ranger Station and the parking lot, elevation 220 feet.
0.00l  Signpost: "1 Willow (left); Laurel (straight)".
0.00b1 *shortpod mustardHirschfeldia incana99 / 936
0.00l  (mule fat, Baccharis salicifolia)
0.00l  (coyote bush, Baccharis pilularis)
0.00l2 dove weedEremocarpus setigerus99 / 912
0.00 3 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus99 / 934
0.00 4 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens99 / 934
0.00 5 *slender wild oatsAvena barbata99 / 919
0.00r6 south coast branching phaceliaPhacelia ramosissima var. austrolitoralis50 / 91
0.01r7?unk dead large branching annual
0.02b8 bush monkeyflowerMimulus aurantiacus30 / 929
0.02l9 California brickellbushBrickellia californica30 / 321
 r  Look for signpost "B" (lichen; sandstone plant community).
0.02   Trail goes through "gap" in large boulder.
0.02l10 laurel sumacMalosma laurina50 / 927
0.02r11 western ragweedAmbrosia psilostachya / 25
0.02b12 horseweedConyza canadensis30 / 922
0.03r13 black sageSalvia mellifera / 27
0.03l  (white sage, Salvia apiana)
0.03l14 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum / 37
0.04b15 coyote bushBaccharis pilularis20 / 318
0.04r16 *tocaloteCentaurea melitensis99 / 931
0.05r17 coast prickly-pearOpuntia littoralis+20 / 98
0.06   Trail curves left.
0.06l18 bicolored everlastingGnaphalium bicolor20 / 919
0.06l19 California sagebrushArtemisia californica30 / 931
0.06r20 California everlastingGnaphalium californicum / 23
0.07r21 San Diego wreathplantStephanomeria diegensis99 / 99
0.07   Trail steps up on boulder surface.
0.07l22 pine goldenbushEricameria pinifolia5 / 34
0.07l23 lemonade berryRhus integrifolia30 / 910
0.07l24~leafy daisyErigeron foliosus var. foliosus / 29
0.08r25 *narrowleaf filagoFilago gallica99 / 928
0.08   Trail turns left 45°.
0.08b26 coastal goldenbushIsocoma menziesii+20 / 95
    The following 12 species were found prior to the Isocoma on 4/13/03, but without precise locations.
 l27 *windmill pinkSilene gallica99 / 920
 l28 *goldentopLamarckia aurea / 10
 l29 California plantainPlantago erecta10 / 18
 r30?California chicoryRafinesquia californica+2 / 214
 l31 San Diego birdsfoot lotusLotus hamatus5 / 17
 l32 Bishop's lotusLotus strigosus5 / 118
 l33 blue dicksDichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum / 28
  34 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa5 / 18
  35 *California burcloverMedicago polymorpha / 25
  36 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 930
  37 *soft chessBromus hordeaceus99 / 925
 l38 deerweedLotus scoparius var. scoparius / 17
0.09l39?purple false-brome?Brachypodium distachyon?5 / 1 
0.10r40?salt grass or bermuda grass999
0.10r41 *scarlet pimpernelAnagallis arvensis / 16
0.11r42 *black mustardBrassica nigra99 / 95
0.12l43?willow-leaved dockRumex salicifolius var. denticulatus+5 / 11
0.13l  Post "C" (Succession: Transition from annual grassland (from cattle grazing) to coastal sage scrub).
  44 *sourcloverMelilotus indicus99 / 911
  45 dwarf lupineLupinus bicolor / 17
  46 *smooth cat's earHypochaeris glabra / 21
  47 *sow thistleSonchus oleraceus / 20
 r48 arroyo lupineLupinus succulentus2 / 23
 l49 purple owl's cloverCastilleja exserta ssp. exserta / 7
 l50 lanceleaf dudleyaDudleya lanceolata / 16
0.15r51 purple needlegrassNassella pulchra / 9
0.16r52 telegraph weedHeterotheca grandiflora / 21
0.16r53 coast live oakQuercus agrifolia var. agrifolia+30 / 929
  54 *sand spurreySpergularia bocconei5 / 14
  55 *pineapple weedChamomilla suaveolens / 13
  56 *hairy rattail fescueVulpia myuros var. hirsuta / 9
  57 collar lupineLupinus truncatus / 15
 l58 blue-eyed grassSisyrinchium bellum / 11
0.19r59 white sageSalvia apiana / 27
0.19   Local high point on trail, elevation ~250 feet.
0.21l60 hollyleaf redberryRhamnus ilicifolia20 / 929
  61 wild-cucumberMarah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus / 33
0.21l62 *Italian thistleCarduus pycnocephalus / 8
0.21l63 Torrey oak X Engelmann oakQuercus engelmannii X Q. Xacutidens+20 / 92
 l64 Carolina geraniumGeranium carolinianum20 / 43
  65 white everlastingGnaphalium canescens ssp. microcephalum10 / 929
0.22l  (California wild rose, Rosa californica)
 r66 (Peruvian pepper tree, Schinus molle)
  67 *common chickweedStellaria media / 15
  68 giant wild ryeLeymus condensatus5 / 522
  69ssp*foxtail barleyHordeum murinum / 2
 r70 California goosefootChenopodium californicum3 / 31
0.23l  coast live oakQuercus agrifolia var. agrifolia+ /  
0.24l71 mule fatBaccharis salicifolia30 / 527
0.26   Local low point on trail, elevation ~240 feet.
0.27r72 mugwortArtemisia douglasiana20 / 322
0.27r73 cockleburXanthium strumarium10 / 110
0.28r74 *smilo grassPiptatherum miliaceum30 / 514
0.29l  Sign: "Boundary of Ecological Reserve"
 r75 *prickly lettuceLactuca serriola20 / 921
0.31r  Short wooden fence, with sign: "Property of California Department of Fish and Game" and "no bicycles" symbol. Signpost "D" here?
0.42r76 *high mallowMalva sylvestris5 / 22
 l77sspwestern vervainVerbena lasiostachys / 2
 r78 creeping wild ryeLeymus triticoides1 / 15
 r79 fiesta flowerPholistoma auritum var. auritum9 / 19
 r80 common fiddleneckAmsinckia menziesii var. intermedia20 / 38
 r81?silver puffsUropappus lindleyi+30 / 916
  82 *cheeseweedMalva parviflora / 11
 l83 sticky cinquefoilPotentilla glandulosa ssp. glandulosa / 6
0.43l84 chaparral bush mallowMalacothamnus fasciculatus99 / 98
0.44b85 yarrowAchillea millefolium10 / 19
0.45l  Signpost: "E" (Sandstone outcrops; Topanga Formation, ferns, succulents)
0.47r  (arroyo willow, Salix lasiolepis)
0.47r86 *poison hemlockConium maculatum5 / 15
0.48r87 blue elderberrySambucus mexicana / 33
 r  Look for signpost "F" (Vista of fences and grasslands from grazing, and "Ghost Rock" sandstone outcropping)
0.52r88 sacred daturaDatura wrightii5 / 113
0.56l89 *horehoundMarrubium vulgare20 / 518
 l90 fuchsia-flowered gooseberryRibes speciosum5 / 54
 r91 *spring vetchVicia sativa ssp. sativa1 / 11
 l92 California poppyEschscholzia californica / 20
0.60   Cross minor drainage.
 l  Look for signpost "G" (Sycamores and snags)
0.64l  (western sycamore, Platanus racemosa)
 l ~(big leaf mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum)
 r93 Parry's phaceliaPhacelia parryi10 / 34
0.74r  coast prickly-pearOpuntia littoralis+ /  
0.74l  Signpost: "H" (coastal sage scrub)
 r94 white star-lilyZigadenus fremontii5 / 32
 l  (caterpillar phacelia, Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida)
 l  (ladies fingers, Dudleya edulis)
 l  (wild celery, Apiastrum angustifolium)
 l  (Bigelow's spike-moss, Selaginella bigelovii)
 l  (pygmy-weed, Crassula connata)
 l  (southern miner's lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata ssp. mexicana)
 l ~(California mustard, Guillenia lasiophylla)
 l95 narrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium30 / 937
 l96 graceful bedstrawGalium porrigens var. porrigens1 / 12
 l97 nodding needlegrassNassella cernua / 7
 r98 foothill needlegrassNassella lepida / 13
 l99 south coast morning-gloryCalystegia macrostegia ssp. intermedia5 / 512
0.81b100 *English plantainPlantago lanceolata5 / 114
0.81l101 goldback fernPentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis10 / 111
0.81l102 coffee fernPellaea andromedifolia4 / 416
0.82   Trail now is next to and parallels drainage on right
 r103 cattailTypha sp. /  
 r104 (red willow, Salix laevigata)
0.82l  Signpost: "I" (Poison Oak - Do Not Touch!)
 l105 eucryptaEucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia5 / 214
0.82l106~willowherbEpilobium ciliatum ssp. ciliatum5 / 115
0.82l107 heartleaf penstemonKeckiella cordifolia30 / 518
 l108 poison oakToxicodendron diversilobum / 28
0.83l109 Pacific sanicleSanicula crassicaulis / 11
 l110 American vetchVicia americana var. americana3 / 34
0.83r111 California blackberryRubus ursinus / 11
 l112 creeping snowberrySymphoricarpos mollis / 5
 l113spone of the balloon clovers
0.83b114 California wild roseRosa californica / 9
0.84l  Signpost: "J" (Under The Oaks)
0.87r  Signpost: "K" at tall California sagebrush, Artemisia californica (Stream Crossing)
0.87l115 western sycamorePlatanus racemosa / 17
 r116 goldenrodSolidago californica5 / 124
0.87l117 California false-indigoAmorpha californica var. californica1 / 13
0.87l118spumbrella sedgeCyperus sp.2 / 1 
0.87   Cross stream, elevation ~330 feet; trail begins first significant ascent
0.88r119 small-flowered melicaMelica imperfecta / 25
 l120sspCalifornia bee plantScrophularia californica5 / 32
0.91r121 toyonHeteromeles arbutifolia10 / 934
0.93l  Signpost: "L" (Animal Scat)
 r122sspwhispering bellsEmmenanthe penduliflora1 / 12
0.98   Cross stream
0.98l123sp*Mediterranean beard grassPolypogon maritimus10 / 12
0.98b124 *common plantainPlantago major10 / 13
0.98r125 *Bermuda grassCynodon dactylon1 / 115
1.00l126 soap plantChlorogalum pomeridianum var. pomeridianum / 12
1.01   Cross stream
1.01l127 *bull thistleCirsium vulgare / 10
1.06r128sspblue wildryeElymus glaucus5 / 14
 l129 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum / 38
  130 California enceliaEncelia californica9 / 911
1.12l  (bracken, Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens)
1.15   Cross minor drainage.
 r131 giant needlegrassAchnatherum coronatum2 / 217
1.18l  Signpost: "M" at lemonade berry, Rhus integrifolia (Slope Effects: vegetation difference between north-facing vs. south-facing slopes); elevation ~500 feet. Trail becomes very steep.
1.23   Cross minor drainage.
 r132 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia / 36
 l  Look for signpost "N" (Waterfall Area)
1.28r133 coastal lotusLotus salsuginosus var. salsuginosus2 / 12
1.28   Cross major stream with dry waterfalls below.
1.29l134 Torrey's scrub oakQuercus Xacutidens+ / 9
1.31l  (California wood fern, Dryopteris arguta)
 r135 *rose cloverTrifolium hirtum / 5
 l136 San Diego peaLathyrus vestitus var. alefeldii3 / 313
 l137 California bromeBromus carinatus var. carinatus30 / 310
 l138?agrostis sp.?
1.37b139 long-leaf bush lupineLupinus longifolius30 / 31
 l140 California maidenhair fernAdiantum jordanii30 / 36
1.38l141 California wood fernDryopteris arguta5 / 19
 l142 common rushJuncus patens1 / 11
1.40l143 California buttercupRanunculus californicus50 / 44
1.43r  Signpost: "O" (Oak Woodlands: Recovery From Fire and Grazing)
1.45b144?clarkia?Clarkia sp.?20 / 1 
 l145?*bur chervilAnthriscus caucalis5 / 36
 l146sphedge-nettleStachys sp.+ /  
 r147spunk short lupine, 6 long-hairy lflets, 12 x 5 mm, 18 mm single corolla.
 r148 tomcat cloverTrifolium willdenovii / 8
 r149 Chinese housesCollinsia heterophylla5 / 110
 r150 goldenstarBloomeria crocea99 / 98
1.59r  Zigzag Gate with stepover. Sign on other side: (no bicycles).
1.61   T-jct with Laurel Spur Road, elevation ~620 feet; turn left. Signpost: "10; Laurel Spur (left); Upper Laurel Canyon (right); Lower Laurel Canyon (back the way you came)".
1.65   Cross drainage.
1.66l151 *nit grassGastridium ventricosum / 15
1.67r  Jct. path; road curves left 90°.
1.68b152 slender tarweedHemizonia fasciculata99 / 99
 r153 *artichoke thistleCynara cardunculus / 4
1.69r  Signpost: "P" (Habitat Mosaic)
1.72   Switchback left.
1.79   Trail turns right 90°
1.95   Trail curves right 45°
1.98   Trail curves left 45°
1.99   Local high point on trail, elevation ~815 feet.
2.01   Local low point on trail, elevation ~800 feet.
2.07   Trail curves left 45°
    The following 8 species were found prior to the Willow Canyon Road jct on 4/13/03, but without precise locations.
  154 *perennial veldt grassEhrharta calycina5 / 21
 r155 woodland starLithophragma affine5 / 13
 r156 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides / 13
 l157 white nightshadeSolanum douglasii1 / 111
 l158 southern suncupCamissonia bistorta / 8
 r159 rough-seeded blue toad-flaxLinaria canadensis var. texana10 / 25
 r160 Catalina mariposa lilyCalochortus catalinae30 / 31
 l161 Parish's purple nightshadeSolanum parishii1 / 111
2.11   T-jct with Willow Canyon Road; highest point on route, elevation ~815 feet; go left. Signpost: "2 (Boomer Spur (45° right); Laurel (back the way you came)".
 l  Look for signpost "Q" (Tollroad overlook).
2.15l  Nice view of San Gabriel Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains.
    Look for signpost "R" (Abandoned Stock Tank)
2.30   Road curves right around a ridge.
 l162 *wild oatsAvena fatua / 13
 r163 coast Indian paintbrushCastilleja affinis ssp. affinis20 / 24
2.34r  Signpost: "T" (Emerald Canyon Overlook)
2.56l  Sign: "Boundary Ecological Reserve".
 l  Look for signpost "U" (Laurel Canyon Overlook)
2.69r164 California fuchsiaEpilobium canum10 / 111
2.79l  Sign: "Ecological Reserve. No trespassing"; elevation ~650 feet.
2.84l165 *Russian thistleSalsola tragus20 / 222
3.15r  Signpost "V" (Prickly Pear Cactus)
3.42   Cross drainage, elevation ~290 feet.
    The following species were found after mile 2.35 and before the end of the trail, but do not yet have precise locations.
 r166 southern Indian pinkSilene laciniata ssp. major10 / 111
 l167 *crown daisyChrysanthemum coronarium20 / 14
 r168 *fennelFoeniculum vulgare5 / 111
 l169~red maidsCalandrinia ciliata3 / 18
 l170 *stickwortSpergula arvensis ssp. arvensis5 / 11
 r171 splendid mariposa lilyCalochortus splendens30 / 210
 l172 popcorn flowerCryptantha intermedia10 / 118
 r173 *purple wild radishRaphanus sativus10 / 19
 l  (eupatory, Ageratina adenophora)
 l174 *Oriental mustardSisymbrium orientale10 / 17
3.55   End Laurel Canyon Loop Trail back at the trailhead, elevation ~220 feet.

Comments On Specific Species

Opuntia littoralis. The first specimen is a planted single pad, and hence it is not possible to be 100% certain of this id. The second specimen is an adult plant.

Isocoma menziesii. Distinguishing var. menziesii from var. vernonioides seems problematic using either the Munz key or the JM key. See Comments on the Jepson Manual and A Flora of Southern California by Munz: Isocoma.

Rafinesquia californica. A definite id was obtained for a later specimen; this specimen was too young to be certain on 4/13/03.

Rumex salicifolius var. denticulatus. A specimen was definitely identified as this id from someplace along the trail, but its location was not recorded. Rumex crispus is probably also present, so this specimen could be either id.

Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia. The first specimen is a seedling. The first adult plant is also noted.

Quercus engelmannii X Q. Xacutidens; Q. Xacutidens. The first specimen at mile 0.21 is a hybrid, evidenced by the presence of trichomes from each parent. All other specimens examined, at miles 1.29, 1.30, 1.40, 1.47 and ~2.5 showed no trichomes from Quercus engelmannii, and hence are highly likely to be pure Q. Xacutidens.

Uropappus lindleyi. A definite id was obtained for a later specimen; the seeds were all gone from this specimen, making it impossible to id.

Stachys sp.. The flower was white with purple veins.

Go to:

Copyright © 2003 by Tom Chester and Jane Strong.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester | Jane Strong
Updated 29 December 2003 (Amorpha species corrected on 20 December 2005 thanks to an anonymous reader).