In general, the trail and the areas near the trail have been “disturbed” for many years: graded as a road, dug and chewed up by vehicles, with plant seeds and pieces brought in from elsewhere. Therefore, the plants near the trail now are mostly fast-growing non-natives (that is, “weeds”), and the native plants that have survived are away from the trail. The upland natives being usually grow on the side of the trail that is farther from the water, that is, higher and drier.
Common Name: Coyote Brush
Scientific Name: Baccharis pilularis
Size/Location: 4 – 12 feet, often in previously disturbed areas (grows fast, for a native shrub that is)
Comments: Small toothed leaves that are aromatic and resinous. The separate male and female plants bloom in the late summer and early winter producing beautiful fluffy white female flowers and yellowish male flowers. Since they bloom late, these plants remain bright green when most others around them are brown and dead-looking.
Common Name: Goldenbush
Scientific Name: Isocoma menziesii
Size/Location: Grows by side of trail; 2 – 3 feet tall
Comments: Blooms yellow late in summer, flowers similar to dandelion; in this picture there is an invader in the middle: Pampas Grass.
Common Name: Mulefat
Scientific Name:Baccharis salicifolia
Size/Location: Up to 12 feet tall. Grows in moist places (fresh water), especially to the northeast of the lagoon.
Comments: Often mistaken for willow.
California (or Coastal) Sagebrush
Common Name: Sagebrush
Scientific Name:Artemesia californica
Size/Location: Usually less than four feet tall. The most common chaparral bush/plant of the dry slopes around the Lagoon (coastal sage scrub) but not common along the disturbed edges of the trail.
Comments: The feathery gray-green leaves grow from the woody stems and have a strong pleasant sagelike smell. These plants turn brown and appear dead by midsummer, but the leaves reappear with the rains in winter and spring.
Common Name: Deer Weed
Scientific Name:Lotus scoparius
Size/Location:About 3 feet tall. Not common near disturbed areas of trail. A big clump above trail on upland side near the pump station.
Comments: Yellow, pea-like flowers which turn orange-red.
Common Name: Lemonadeberry
Scientific Name:Rhus integrifolia
Size/Location: Fast growing shrub of coastal areas. Grows to 10 feet high but sprawls to 10 feet wide as well. Near trail in Aviara Cove.
Comments: Leathery evergreen leaves. Pink or white flowers. Fruits (see inset) have tart lemon-flavored coating. Provides rich green color on dry sage-scrub slopes. Valued by wildlife for food and cover -larger mammals as well as birds.
Wild Hyacinth or Blue Dicks
Common Name: Blue Dick
Scientific Name:Dichelostemma pulchellum
Size/Location: 1- or 2-foot stem with purple cluster flower in spring seen to upland side of trail. Abundant on open slopes, scrub, chaparral and burns.
Comments: Farmed by American Indians. The root bulbs have a sweet, nutty flavor and can be eaten raw. They can also be roasted or fried. They are considered more tasty than potatoes.
Common Name: Coastal Boxthorn
Scientific Name:Lycium californicum
Size/Location: Spreading bush: 2-3 feet high and much wider. On upland side of trail, especially cliffs.
Comments: Bare and dead-looking much of year since small leaves drop off in early summer.
Flat-top (or California) Buckwheat
Common Name: California Buckwheat
Scientific Name:Eriogonum fasciculatum
Size/Location: Low and spreading; about 2′ tall and 2-3′ wide. Especially on upland side of trail near East parking lot.
Comments: Flowers used by bees to make honey.
Common Name: Mohave Yucca
Scientific Name:Yucca schidigera
Size/Location: High above trail on hillsides
Comments: Showy white spike bloom in early spring; leaves are made up of strong fibers which were used by Native Americans to make ropes and other things.
Common Name: Bush Sunflower
Scientific Name:Encelia californica
Size/Location: 4-5 foot bushes on hillsides. Common in coastal sage brush.
Comments: Hillsides covered with yellow blooms in spring; dried out plants later in summer. May appear dead in cold months.
Mission Cactus or Prickly Pear
Common Name: Prickly Pear
Scientific Name:Opuntia littoralis
Size/Location: Usually less than about eight feet but spreading. High above trail in drier soil.
Comments: Pads and fruit used for food.
Common Name:Chalked-leafed Live-forever
Scientific Name:Dudleya pulverulenta
Size/Location: Succulent. Prehistoric-looking low rosettes giving rise to tall stalks (about 2-1/2 feet) with colorful flowers.
Comments: Chalky surface of leaves, stems, and flowers. Likes drier areas, especially up from trail near pump station
Common Name: Arroyo Willow
Scientific Name:Salix lasiolepsis
Size/Location: Bushy small trees in several wet, low areas of the trail: new ones growing where water crosses trail at big Aviara desiltation basin
Comments: Willows have catkins, not normal flowers.
Common Name: Black Mustard
Scientific Name:Brassica nigra
Size/Location: Some species up to 6 feet.
Comments: There are several species of mustard which look similar. Probably planted by missionaries as feed for their draft animals.
Common Name: Wild Radish
Scientific Name:Raphanus sativus
Size/Location: Up to 4 feet tall; all along trail
Comments: Many-colored blooms (many lavender) in spring then seed pods. Not edible.
Common Name: Poison Hemlock
Scientific Name:Conium maculatum
Size/Location: 6-8 feet; near trail at Aviara Cove.
Comments: Often mistaken for wild fennel, but be careful! All parts are poisonous! Note purple blotches on stems.
Common Name: Sweet Fennel
Scientific Name:Foeniculum vulgare
Size/Location: Up to about 6 feet. Many places along trail.
Comments: Leaves, seeds, and stems smell and taste like licorice or anise. Fluffy leaves in spring then stalks with flowers and seeds in fall.
Common (or Crystalline) Iceplant
Common Name: Crystalline Iceplant
Scientific Name: Mesembryanthenum crystallinum
Size/Location: Very low but spreading. Many places along trail.
Comments:White flower open mid-day. Clear, shining droplets all over leaves and stems.
Common Name: Brass Buttons
Scientific Name:Cotula coronopifolia
Size/Location: Low and spreading like the native wetland plants; found alongside wet spots in the trail.
Common Name: Tree Tobacco
Scientific Name:Nicotiana glauca
Size/Location: Up to about 15-20 feet. There are many on the Lagoon side of the trail below the east parking lot (disturbed and high above the water)
Comments:Yellow tube-shaped flowers attract Anna’s Hummingbirds.
Common Name: Castor Bean
Scientific Name:Ricinus communis
Size/Location: Spreading big bush/little tree. By trail near big settling basin and flow control structure.
Comments:Attractive but poisonous seeds in pods.
Common Name: Cocklebur
Scientific Name:Xanthium spinosum
Size/Location: 2-3′ plants, especially on west part of trail.
Comments:Burs stick to clothes and fur because of their hooked ends, and so seeds inside are carried to other places.
Eucalyptus (or Gum) trees
Common Name: Eucalyptus
Scientific Name:Eucalyptus spp.
Size/Location: The only trees on the trail and the slopes above.
Comments: Brittle wood so the limbs often break off. Regrowth from stumps and spreading roots.