Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To California Riding and Hiking Trail: Culp Valley to Visitor Center

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
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


This trail begins in Culp Valley near mile 9.2 on S22, the Montezuma Highway. To reach the trailhead, coming from Ranchita, look for milepost 9.0 on the right, and then look for an unpaved dirt road on your left. You'll first see a dirt clearing on the left which does not have a road connected to it; the unpaved dirt road will follow shortly. Beware: the entrance to this dirt road is hard to see approaching from the west, since the entrance to the dirt road angles to the northwest. If you have to turnaround on S22 to go back to the dirt road, be extremely careful in making the U-turn on S22, since this is the passing-lane section on the other side, and cars are going at high speed.

There are numerous places to park along this road that won't block traffic on the road. There is a very wide area immediately on entering the dirt road, but if you park on the left there, you'll force others to drive on the gullied part of the road. There are two other parking areas on the left immediately after that. The first parking area is opposite the trailhead used by this guide, which is at the shaded sign mounted on a rock pillar, which is titled Chaparral ... and the cycle of fire.

The guide then travels farther north on this dirt road, through a primitive campground with more parking areas and a toilet, to a junction with the California Riding and Hiking Trail. The guide then travels down that Trail to the 2600 foot saddle, which is a possible turn-around point if you are not doing a car-shuttle.

The guide continues on to the Visitor Center. In order to avoid duplication in our database, and to give proper species abundance estimates for people doing the trail just to the saddle, we do the following. The estimate of the number of plants and number of locations for each species gives only the numbers appropriate before that saddle. After the saddle, the guides gives the numbers from the other guide. (This paragraph is probably way too confusing; most people can just ignore it.)

This guide has only been done three times, twice in January 2006 and once in January 2010, and so is incomplete for most annuals and some perennials. The estimates of the abundance for the annuals and perennials in the guide might be severe underestimates of what would be found in February and March of a good rainfall year.

See also the introduction, pictures and maps in Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

Highlights of This Trail

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 up to the 2600 foot saddle. We had 189 of our trails and floras in our database when this histogram was made; 51 of those trails, including this one, are in Anza-Borrego State Park. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found only on this list, among all of our trails and floras in our database.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa129100%

The taxa that are unique to this entire trail, or found at most in just one or two other guides or floras, are:

# Guides / FlorasName
1Galium angustifolium ssp. borregoense
2Brickellia frutescens
2Menodora scoparia
2Chamaesyce arizonica
3Chamaesyce melanadenia
3Keckiella antirrhinoides var. microphylla
3Ditaxis neomexicana
3Melica frutescens

We found 13 additional taxa not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ?, sp or ssp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entries 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, up to the 2600 foot saddle. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

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

Botanical Trip Reports

The Plant Guide

For a plant list of the species found here in traditional family order, see Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

The mileages are derived from a GPS recording of this trail, but some sections were not accurately GPS'd. Mileages should be accurate to ~0.02 to 0.05 miles.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (8 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (2 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

miles#idCommon NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00r  Begin guide at shaded sign mounted on a rock pillar: "Chaparral ... and the cycle of fire", almost next to the Montezuma Highway, S22; elevation 3330 feet (1015 m)
0.00b1 *Asian mustardBrassica tournefortii20 / 343
0.00r2 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens99 / 984
0.00b3 fringed amaranthAmaranthus fimbriatus99 / 911
0.00b4 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 981
0.00b5 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium99 / 952
0.00r6 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus2 / 167
0.00r7~*Mediterranean schismusSchismus barbatus10 / 151
0.00r8~common phaceliaPhacelia distans50 / 537
0.00r9 coyote melonCucurbita palmata+1 / 16
0.00r10spbaby annual lupineLupinus sp.10 / 1 
0.00r11 slender buckwheatEriogonum gracile var. incultum30 / 57
0.00r12spbaby popcorn flowerCryptantha sp.99 / 9 
0.00r13 California matchweedGutierrezia californica99 / 97
0.00b14~fivewing spiderlingBoerhavia intermedia99 / 910
0.00r15 slender wreathplantStephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua20 / 422
0.01r16 gander's chollaOpuntia ganderi30 / 939
0.01l17 rattlesnake weedChamaesyce albomarginata10 / 214
0.01l ~(apricot mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua)
0.02l18 wire-lettuceStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora30 / 949
0.02l19 red-gland spurgeChamaesyce melanadenia99 / 93
0.02r20 catclawAcacia greggii40 / 947
0.02l21 Acton enceliaEncelia actoni99 / 97
0.03l22 desert mistletoePhoradendron californicum10 / 938
0.03l  (San Felipe dogweed, Adenophyllum porophylloides; shrubby brickellia, Brickellia frutescens; cheesebush, Hymenoclea salsola var. salsola; Engelmann's hedgehog cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii; short-winged deerweed, Lotus scoparius var. brevialatus; tall melica, Melica frutescens; wishbone plant, Mirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa; Parish's viguiera, Viguiera parishii;)
0.04r23 sugar bushRhus ovata30 / 938
0.04r24 papillate dodderCuscuta californica var. papillosa5 / 112
0.04b25 Parish's viguieraViguiera parishii50 / 928
0.04r26 short-winged deerweedLotus scoparius var. brevialatus30 / 536
0.05r27 white sageSalvia apiana6 / 353
0.06r  Sign: "No shooting, fire in metal container only"
0.07r  (lotebush, Ziziphus parryi var. parryi)
0.08r28spannual suncupCamissonia sp.5 / 1 
0.08r29 cheesebushHymenoclea salsola var. salsola50 / 744
0.08   Y-jct.; sign: "Pena Spring (left); "Campground (right)"; stay right
0.09r30spdaturaDatura sp.+1 / 1 
0.09r31 narrowleaf goldenbushEricameria linearifolia50 / 911
0.15r32 lotebushZiziphus parryi var. parryi30 / 95
0.15r33 beady lipfernCheilanthes covillei20 / 913
0.15r  (desert needlegrass, Achnatherum speciosum)
0.16r34 boundary goldenbushEricameria brachylepis20 / 911
0.17r  (Mohave yucca, Yucca schidigera; desert scrub oak, Quercus cornelius-mulleri)
0.19l  (jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis)
0.20l  First campsite, marked with two short wood posts
0.21l35 linear-leaved stillingiaStillingia linearifolia4 / 212
0.21r  Jct. road to toilets
0.22r  Sign: "No wood gathering"
0.25   Y-jct.; stay left
0.26r  (very large jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis)
0.28   Jct. maze of roads; stay straight
0.28   (California juniper, Juniperus californica)
0.30l  Sign: "Culp Valley Vista Point 0.6 mi"
0.32l  (beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris)
0.33l  (chaparral yucca, Yucca whipplei)
0.37r36~short-bannered coastal lotusLotus salsuginosus var. brevivexillus30 / 99
0.37r37 chinch-weedPectis papposa var. papposa20 / 25
0.37r38 wishbone plantMirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa20 / 927
0.38r39~desert woolly-starEriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum99 / 920
0.38r40 beavertail cactusOpuntia basilaris var. basilaris10 / 946
0.38r41 Pima rhatanyKrameria erecta20 / 914
0.39l42 California juniperJuniperus californica10 / 711
0.39   Trail branches into three paths; stay straight
0.40r  (western bernardia, Bernardia myricifolia)
0.41l43~apricot mallowSphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua3 / 320
0.42r44 desert scrub oakQuercus cornelius-mulleri20 / 75
0.42l45spdesert needlegrass?Achnatherum speciosum?50 / 9 
0.46r46 Mohave yuccaYucca schidigera20 / 920
0.58   Four way jct.: California Riding and Hiking Trail goes left-right; new wheelchair-accessible trail from campground comes in from right; sign: "Scenic Overlook"; go right
0.59l  (definite apricot mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua)
0.60   Y-jct.; go right (left goes to minor overlook with white mugwort, Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula; desert dudleya, Dudleya saxosa ssp. aloides; Borrego bedstraw, Galium angustifolium ssp. borregoense; ~white fiesta flower, ~Pholistoma membranaceum; and chia, Salvia columbariae)
0.60l  Sign: "Vista Point (ahead)"
0.62r47 desert dudleyaDudleya saxosa ssp. aloides10 / 514
0.65l  "Turtle Rock" at 8 o'clock
0.66l48 birch-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides10 / 435
0.66   Faint Y-jct; stay right and ascend
0.66b49~rush blue grassPoa secunda ssp. juncifolia10 / 29
0.67r  (white-flowering currant, Ribes indecorum; desert lotus, Lotus rigidus)
0.68l50~Vasey's prickly-pearOpuntia vaseyi10 / 337
0.69r51 white mugwortArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula20 / 911
0.74r52 sweetbushBebbia juncea var. aspera20 / 953
0.75   Saddle on highest flattish area (#1)
0.76r53 San Felipe dogweedAdenophyllum porophylloides20 / 728
0.76l54 desert agaveAgave deserti20 / 931
0.76l  (desert apricot, Prunus fremontii)
0.78l55 western bernardiaBernardia myricifolia4 / 36
0.79   Vista Point; High point on trail; elevation 3520 feet (1073 m); begin descend to flattish area #2
0.79r56 Engelmann's hedgehog cactusEchinocereus engelmannii10 / 524
0.85l57 desert apricotPrunus fremontii20 / 914
0.85r  Jct. use trail to local peak on right
0.89   Y-jct.; stay left
0.90r  Jct. use trail to local peak on right
0.92r58 desert lotusLotus rigidus99 / 918
0.94r  Check for unk opposite-leaf per like penstemon? /  
0.94r59spbaby plants like six-weeks three-awnAristida adscensionis? / 16
0.94b60 shrubby brickelliaBrickellia frutescens10 / 52
0.94b61sppincushion flowerChaenactis sp.20 / 1 
0.94r62 woolly lipfernCheilanthes parryi1 / 128
0.98r63~muillaMuilla maritima2 / 116
0.98r64~bajada lupineLupinus concinnus1 / 138
1.00   Switchback left.
1.00l65 odoraPorophyllum gracile2 / 212
1.01   Trail turns right 90°
1.01l ?(wild-cucumber?, Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus?)
1.01l  definite six-weeks three-awnAristida adscensionis /  
1.03l66~California suncupCamissonia californica5 / 160
1.03l67 chiaSalvia columbariae20 / 253
1.03l68spannual phaceliaPhacelia like minor5 / 1 
1.07r  Saddle; Jct. use trail marked with a tall post; elevation 3320 feet (1012 m)
1.08r69 white-flowering currantRibes indecorum1 / 134
1.09r  (bigberry manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca)
1.10r70 Borrego bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. borregoense30 / 51
1.11r71 bigberry manzanitaArctostaphylos glauca1 / 114
1.11r72~perennial rock-cressArabis perennans3 / 113
1.12r73spcoast-range melic?Melica imperfecta?10 / 1 
1.14r74~little-leaved chaparral beard-tongueKeckiella antirrhinoides var. microphylla4 / 33
1.17r75 Anderson's desert-thornLycium andersonii4 / 310
1.17r  Jct. use trail to ridge
1.28   Now in flattish area #2
1.29l76 California spear-leaved brickelliaBrickellia arguta var. arguta3 / 35
1.33r  Check if these specimens are Eriogonum davidsonii.
1.37r77 broom twinberryMenodora scoparia5 / 22
1.49r78 burroweedAmbrosia dumosa1 / 150
1.49r79 Parry's nolinaNolina parryi2 / 110
1.51l80 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. nodosum10 / 320
1.52   Trail leaves flattish area #2 and begins drop down to flattish area #3; elevation 3240 feet (988 m)
1.53r81 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum5 / 181
1.80l82 brittlebushEncelia farinosa10 / 452
1.81   End steep descent; now on flattish area #3; elevation 2920 feet (890 m)
1.88b83 desert plantainPlantago ovata99 / 934
1.91l84sppepper-grassLepidium sp.10 / 1 
1.97r  (California barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus)
2.02l85 jojobaSimmondsia chinensis5 / 426
2.09   Trail leaves flattish area #3 and begins drop to saddle at mile 2.6
2.25l86~Parish's needlegrassAchnatherum parishii1 / 123
2.25l87 California trixisTrixis californica var. californica1 / 129
2.35l88 New Mexico ditaxisDitaxis neomexicana1 / 13
2.37l89 California barrel cactusFerocactus cylindraceus+1 / 141
2.38   Saddle; elevation ~2580 feet (785 m); trail turns right to descend upper part of drainage to Hellhole Canyon. This is a possible turnaround point if you are not doing a one-way car-shuttle hike. Plant guide now gives species abundance for the rest of the trail, and there may be more specimens of the previously-given species.
2.38l  (teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii)
2.41l  (creosote bush, Larrea tridentata)
2.43l90 2 lv'd ephedraEphedra sp. (2 lv'd) / 5
2.43l91 ocotilloFouquieria splendens ssp. splendens5 / 549
2.47   Enter wash
2.47r92 Nealley three-awnAristida purpurea var. nealleyi3 / 34
2.48   Leave wash
2.51   Enter wash
2.55   Leave wash; local low point on trail
2.56   Local high point on trail
2.56r93 desert sageSalvia eremostachya1 / 16
2.64   Enter wash
2.67l94 narrowleaf ditaxisDitaxis lanceolata50 / 930
2.67   Leave wash
2.69r95 woolly Indian paintbrushCastilleja foliolosa1 / 111
2.73l96 creosote bushLarrea tridentata40 / 953
2.81   Local low point on trail
2.81r97 desert lavenderHyptis emoryi50 / 944
2.87   Local high point on trail
2.96r98sspwestern tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata5 / 16
2.99r99 star-flowered bedstrawGalium stellatum var. eremicum3 / 317
3.00l100~desert twining snapdragonAntirrhinum filipes4 / 46
3.17b101 California fagoniaFagonia laevis10 / 925
3.31b102 spearleafMatelea parvifolia2 / 15
3.51 103 desert spike-mossSelaginella eremophila50 / 915
3.55l104 rock hibiscusHibiscus denudatus10 / 526
3.56l105 indigo bushPsorothamnus schottii50 / 946
3.56r106 *Bermuda grassCynodon dactylon+1 / 143
3.57b107 chuparosaJusticia californica40 / 924
3.57l108spper grass like fountain grass?1 / 1 
3.57r109 whispering bellsEmmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora / 24
3.59   Switchback left
3.61l110 Coulter's lyrepodLyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeri5 / 38
3.62l111?dead annual like silver puffs?1 / 1 
3.68   Switchback right.
3.70   Switchback left.
3.72   Switchback right.
3.73   Switchback left.
3.73l112spheliotrope phacelia?Phacelia crenulata?1 / 1 
3.81   Saddle; elevation ~1540 feet (470 m); jct. with old portion of trail that descends to S22 at milepost 16.0; curve left to Hellhole Canyon
3.82   Cross small drainage
3.85l113 fish-hook cactusMammillaria dioica10 / 922
3.85r114 rattlesnake weedDaucus pusillus10 / 231
3.87l115 Emory's rock-daisyPerityle emoryi20 / 928
3.87l116~Mojave ragwortSenecio mohavensis50 / 918
3.90r117 Arizona spurgeChamaesyce arizonica1 / 12
3.91 118lVasey's sageSalvia vaseyi10 / 523
3.97r119 ayeniaAyenia compacta5 / 310
3.98r120 white rhatanyKrameria grayi2 / 237
4.00   Switchback left.
4.01   Switchback right.
4.04   Trail turns right 90°
4.04l121 big galletaPleuraphis rigida5 / 343
4.04r122 *downy bromeBromus tectorum / 50
4.06   Cross small drainage
4.07r  Jct. steep use trail to fencepost and USGS Benchmark; trail elevation ~1330 feet (405 m)
4.15l123 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides2 / 145
4.16l124~white fiesta flowerPholistoma membranaceum10 / 115
4.18r  (Parish's viguiera, Viguiera parishii)
4.26   Jct. ridgeline between two side-drainages; small peak ahead on ridge has a good view and many Mentzelia; trail goes to left of small peak
4.29r  (Pima rhatany, Krameria erecta)
4.29r125spintermediate larkspur?Delphinium parishii ssp. subglobosum?10 / 313
4.32r126 small-flowered fiddleneckAmsinckia menziesii var. menziesii20 / 215
4.34l127~bracted blazing starMentzelia involucrata5 / 320
4.46b  Leave huge field of Chaenactis
4.46r128~brittle spineflowerChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornu5 / 130
4.46b129 downy daleaDalea mollissima3 / 15
4.47r130 thick-leaved ground cherryPhysalis crassifolia20 / 922
4.51r131sppebble pincushion?Chaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia?99 / 912
4.51r132?baby annual like suncupCamissonia sp.? /  
4.52l133spcombseedPectocarya sp.20 / 2 
4.52l134 yellow-headTrichoptilium incisum20 / 45
4.53r  Sign: "California Riding and Hiking Trail"
4.53l  (Old termite tube at base of dead plant; small-flowered fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii var. menziesii)
4.54   Jct. main Hellhole Canyon Trail; elevation ~950 feet (290 m); cross it and continue straight ahead to pick up this trail again
  135 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa99 / 753
4.58   Cross small wash with 2 branches
4.58l136 desert trumpetEriogonum inflatum1 / 138
4.64   Jct. old road; now horse trail
4.78b  Enter forest of teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii
4.86   Cross wash
4.89l137 teddy-bear chollaOpuntia bigelovii50 / 933
4.99   Cross faint old road (or buried water pipe) heading toward the hills from the water tanks to left
5.04   Trail jogs left
5.26r138 desert thornappleDatura discolor5 / 59
5.26r139 Guadalupe cryptanthaCryptantha maritima99 / 915
5.27   Cross small wash
5.28l  Dead desert lavender, Hyptis emoryi
5.30   Trail curves left
5.33   Trail curves left
5.34   Trail curves right
5.34l140 small-flowered poppyEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflora10 / 215
5.35l141 desert dandelionMalacothrix glabrata5 / 217
5.36l  Sign: "Riding and Hiking Trail (ahead); No Dogs Past This Point"
5.36b142sp Nemacladus sp.99 / 9 
5.36   End guide at signed trailhead on southeast corner of Visitor Center Parking Lot; elevation ~835 feet (255 m).

Comments On Specific Species

Cucurbita palmata. Remnants of this plant were seen in January 2006, but even those were not found in January 2010.

Datura sp.. Remnants of a single dead plant identifiable as a Datura species were seen in January 2006, but only stem remnants were found in January 2010. The seeds are tan, which would key to D. wrightii, but the plant looks annual, like D. discolor.

Ferocactus cylindraceus. The varieties are not recognized in the Flora of North America treatment since they are not consistently distinguishable.

Cynodon dactylon. The single plant seen in December 2005 was weeded out.

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Copyright © 2006-2010 by Tom Chester, Kay Madore, RT Hawke, Shaun Hawke, and Pam Pallette
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 | Kay Madore
Last update: 22 January 2010.