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Where To Find Wildflowers

March 30, 1989|Clipboard researched by Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Orange County's sometimes-elusive wildflowers can be easier to find at local parks and nature centers, where naturalists and rangers are available to help visitors with identification or to point them to the most colorful areas. Caspers Wilderness Park east of San Juan Capistrano and Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange are two of the best local areas to go flower-hunting, but all of the parks listed below have at least a few species of flowering plant. Each park name is followed by a short list of plants currently in bloom. The illustrations on this page represent some of the flowering plants that can be found in local parks.

1. Carbon Canyon Regional Park 4422 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea. (714) 996-5252 Mustard, lupine.

2. Chino Hills State Park Pomona Rincon Road, off Corona Expressway, Corona (714) 780-6222 Lupine, mustard, California poppies.

3. Oak Canyon Nature Center 6700 E. Walnut Canyon Road, Anaheim (714) 998-8380 Wild hyacinth, fiesta flower, Johnny-jump-ups, flannel bush, ceanothus, yarrow, Mariposa lilies.

4. Santiago Oaks Regional Park 2145 N. Windes Drive, Orange (714) 538-4400 Fiddleneck, ground pink, wild hyacinth, Mariposa lilies.

5. Irvine Regional Park 21501 Chapman Ave., Orange (714) 633-8074 California poppies, mustard, mariposa lilies.

6. Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary 29322 Modjeska Canyon Road, Modjeska Canyon (714) 649-2760 Chaparral peas, Spanish broom, fushcia-flowering gooseberries, mountian lilacs.

7. O'Neill Regional Park 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon (714) 858-9365 Lupine, Indian paintbrush, lemonadeberry, prickly phlox, Our Lord's candle.

8. Environmental Nature Center 1601 16th Street, Newport Beach (714) 645-8489. Poppies, ceanothus, flannel bush.

9. Crystal Cove State Park 8471 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach (714) 494-3539 Forget-me-nots, fiddleneck, mustard.

10. Caspers Wilderness Park 33401 Ortega Highway, east of San Juan Capistrano (714) 831-2175 Mariposa lilies, monkey flower, hyacinth, Indian paintbrush, ground pink, California bells, popcorn flowers, shooting stars, poppies, prickly phlox.

Source: Individual parks

GROUND PINK

Description: A very low annual with slender stems, 2-4 1/2 inches high, with very fine opposite leaves. The showy flowers, up to an inch long, are lilac or purplish with a dark-spotted yellow throat.

Found: On grassy slopes in open coastal sage at low elevation.

Blooms: February to April.

SHOOTING STAR

Description: A slightly sticky perennial covered with soft, short hairs. The naked stalk grows from a few inches to a foot or more tall. White-to-pink petals bent sharply upward.

Found: Grassy, damp areas.

Blooms: February to April.

CALIFORNIA POPPY

Description: An herb with stems up to 2 feet high. The four satiny, showy orange petals are up to 2 1/2 inches long.

Found: Grassy slopes and flats below 2,000 feet.

Blooms: February to September.

PURPLE NIGHTSHADE

Description: A perennial herb several feet high with thin, oval leaves. The flowers are saucer-shaped, about an inch across, deep violet with white-encircled green spots in the center.

Found: Coastal sage and openings in chaparral.

Blooms: January to May.

LUPINE

Description: A stout, erect annual 8-24 inches high. The purple-blue pea-shaped flowers are about half an inch long in small clusters on either side of the stem. The pods are covered with short hairs.

Found: Along roadsides, on burns and in disturbed areas below 1,500 feet.

Blooms: February to April.

Source: "Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California," Nancy Dale (Capra Press, 1986).

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