Friday, May 10, 2013

Fish Canyon Plants Hike - May 10, 2013

Dan Simpson at Fish Canyon Falls See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

For years I’ve appreciated Michael Charters and his excellent website, And I’ve exchanged emails with Michael occasionally and enjoy his field trip photo galleries. Recently he decided to focus his botanizing on the San Gabriels and that occasioned the two of us hooking up for a hike in Fish Canyon.

Fish Canyon trail
Over the years Fish Canyon has been a nearby laboratory for me to learn about plants as I’ve been able to observe their behavior throughout the seasons. And I have had the opportunity to be on Fish Canyon Trail with such botanical gurus as Bob Muns, Cliff and Gabby McLean, and Bill Hogshead. So I was delighted to spend a day with Michael Charters in Fish Canyon, photographing plants, enjoying good conversation, and soaking in the beauty of the canyon. And we had the canyon virtually to ourselves! I made special arrangements with the folks at Vulcan Materials to gain access through their quarry. We hiked it on a Friday, so we encountered only one party of two for the whole day (it sure beats being with the hundreds who will be on the trail with the Vulcan access day).

Fish Canyon Trail
Michael and I met at 8 a.m. at the front gate of Vulcan’s Azusa Rock. The security guard assisted us through quarry to the beginning of the trail. It rained earlier in the week and yesterday, so everything was fresh. It took us four and a half hours to meander the two miles to Fish Canyon Falls. The falls where flowing a little better than when I was here a month ago, no doubt the results of recent rains. I thoroughly enjoyed Michael’s company and gleaned much from him about plants. We finished our day at 3:30.

Here are some select images from my camera, displayed in the order they were photographed. To view Michael Charters’ photos of the day, visit his Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon Falls May 2013.

Coffee fern, Pellaea andromedifolia, Fish Canyon Trail
Coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia)

Coffee berry, Rhamnus californica, Fish Canyon Trail
Coffee berry (Rhamnus californica)

Coast live oak,Quercus agrifolia, Fish Canyon Trail
Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Wild cucumber, Marah macrocarpus
Wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpus)

Wild morning glory, Calystegia macrostegia
Fig tree (Ficus carica)

Yucca (Yucca whipplei)

Yucca (Yucca whipplei)

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri)

Botta’s clarkia (Clarkia bottae) This was the most common bloom for the day.

Wild morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia)

Heart-leaved penstemon, Keckiella cordifolia
Heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia)

California thistle, Cirsium occidentale
California thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Sugar bush (Rhus ovata)

Common yarrow, Achillea millefolium
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with butterfly

Virgin’s bower, Clematis lasiantha
Virgin’s bower / Pipestems (Clematis lasiantha)

Prickly-pear cactus,Opuntia littoralis
Prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia littoralis)

Maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris
Maidenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris) At Darlin’ Donna Falls

Himalayan blackberry, Rubus discolor
Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor)

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor)

San Gabriel Mountains liveforever,Dudleya densiflora
San Gabriel Mountains liveforever (Dudleya densiflora)

Trash at Fish Canyon Falls
San Gabriel Mountains liveforever (Dudleya densiflora)

Human garbage (trashia stupidoushumanoid)

For a more complete photo gallery featuring 68 species of plants and a newt, visit Michael Charters’ Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon Falls May 2013.

Fish Canyon Trail
Epilog - What an outstanding day in my beloved Fish Canyon. I think of my early years hiking the San Gabriels and being overwhelmed by the botanic diversity...virtually every plant was unknown to me. Now I walk along the trail and greet many plants by their names and have such a sense of familiarity and appreciation for nature. And to keep me humble, I so value the botanical expertise of people like Michael Charters and his amazing knowledge and his unselfish efforts to share his knowledge with others. icon

See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

Plants See Fish Canyon Trail Plant Guide (April 2011) (PDF)

Plants See Plants and Wildflowers in the San Gabriel Mountains at Dan's Hiking Pages (including links to my other blog posts for plants in Fish Canyon)

See Michael Charters’ Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon May 10, 2013

NEXT > Fish Canyon Falls Farewell Tour - March 22, 2014
PREVIOUS > Fish Canyon Falls Hike - April 6, 2013


  1. Hi Dan, do you know if any parts of the yucca plant are edible? This is a beautiful gallery of plant life.

    1. Native Americans used the blossom stalk, prior to its blooming, as a super-sized asparagus spear. The fibers from the yucca spines were also used to make cord

  2. A lot of useful information about plants I see along the trail on my weekly journeys. Thanks Dan. I hope you can contribute to my new web site devoted to backcountry reports at