Home Membership  About Activities  Plants Info Chaparral  -  Publications  Ideas


table of contents

  1. Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden, photos and more
  2. Burton Mesa Chaparral Ecological Reserve
  3. La Purisima Mission Trails
  4. Locations and Maps
  5. About "What's Blooming"
  6. Archive Photos


There are many types of Chapparal. The Central Coast California Chaparral of Burton Mesa is "Maritime": that is, coastal fog adds moisture. That small amount of moisture has contributed to a rich diversity of endemic plant species. However, as in other chaparral communities, lack of summer rain creates 6-7 months drought, which usually begins in May and lasts through October. Evergreen woody plants of the chaparral have thick, leathery, evaporation-resistant leaves that are described as "sclerophyllous".

The most common (dominant) plants in Burton Mesa Chaparral are Adenostoma fasciculataum (Chamise), Arctostaphylos spp. (Manzanita), Quercus spp. (Oak), and Ceanothus.  [Not counting poison oak, which is in every eco-niche of California, it seems, except at very high altitudes.]  At the BMCG, a few non-endemic species were introduced: Toyon and Lemonadeberry and two rare species of Arctostaphylos (A. stanfordiana and A. densiflora). 

Arctostaphylos - the word comes from Greek arktos, a bear, and staphule, a bunch of grapes. Bears feed on the berries. Quercos - Latin for 'oak tree'. There are 600 extant species of oak.  The oak, is culturally significant, a common symbol of strength and endurance, and it was designated by U.S. Congress in 2004 as the National Tree of United States. (Read more, in Wikipedia article.)

Below (left) oak tree with catkins in April; (right) a statuesque oak.


PLANTS AT BURTON MESA CHAPARRAL GARDEN, Lompoc campus of Allan Hancock College.

Late March and Early April:  FLOWERING PLANTS

  • Numerous Ceanothus are in FULL BLOOM. They have unique flowers in clusters of various sizes. The color varies from white to light blue or pastel pink. The best times (in 2018 at BMCG) are late March and early April.

Below: (Left) Ceanothus bush, 10' tall; (Center) closeup of the flower cluster; (Right) A smaller bush, close to signpost Number 22, just west of the Kiosk. It has shorter flower clusters. (Photos J Levy, April 1, 2018)


  • Prickly Phlox, Linanthus californicus, is making a showing, with bright pink or pale purple flowers and small prickly leaves.
  • Several Manzanitas, both Arctostaphylos purissima (Lompoc Manzanita) and Arctostaphylos rudis (Shagbark Manzanita) are not quite in full bloom anymore. Pictured below: Some of the urn-shaped flowers are turning brownish (right);, and the DRUPES (berries) are developing (left). Some are greenish and some are already red-brown. (Photos J Levy, April 1, 2018)

          Arctosptaphyllos fruit on April 1  Manzanita flowers - some are turning brown

  • The California Peony, Paeonia californica, is developing seeds inside 3 prominent carpels. (Also compare to Mid-March.) (Photos J Levy, April 1, 2018)


  • A few Pedicularis densiflora (see Mid-March) in radiant red color can be found near the trail.


Numerous Manzanitas, both the endemic Arctostaphylos purissima (Lompoc Manzanita) and Arctostaphylos rudis (Shagbark Manzanita) are in FULL BLOOM with thousands of urn-shaped flowers per tree. The best months are Feb-March.  Below: (Left) A female hand gives scale to the truly small blossoms. (Right) The Lompoc Manzanita has extremely hairy stems and leaves, and each leaf appears to be attached directly to the stem, having a petiole less than 2mm. (Photos Julie Levy, mid-March 2018)

Manzanita Urn-shaped Flowers  

EXOTIC BLOOMS AT BMCG: Paeonia and Pedicularis

"California Peony" or "Wild Peony", Paeonia californica; and "Warrior's Plume" or "Indian warrior", Pedicularis densiflora are perennials that bloom in Winter or Spring. (Photos J Levy, mid-March 2018)

Below: The blossom of Paeonia californica is pendulous, and the foliage is distinct.


Below: Pedicularis densiflora is around 8" high. It has reddish stems and fern-shaped leaves, and long spikes of deep red flowers with toothed petals. It may be hemiparasitic or parasitic, opportunistically attaching to the roots of other plants to obtain nutrients and water. Pictured below, it is in front of an oak tree.


PLANTS AT BURTON MESA ECO-RESERVE (BMER), Working on it: Photos will be added. See Maps and Polygon below for locations.

PLANTS AT LA PURISIMA MISSION STATE PARK (LPMSP).  Photos will be added. Keep checking. See Maps and Polygon below for locations.


The Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden is located on the campus of Allan Hancock College approximately one mile north of Lompoc, California on State Hwy #1. View POP-UP MAP OF BMCG HERE View an overview of BMCG and the AHC campus Here.  On the overview, Blue marks the trails in the BMCG; Hwy #1 is on the right. The Garden is operated jointly by Allan Hancock College and the Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society. For visitor information, call (805) 735-3366 or (805) 736-7633.

The Burton Mesa Eco-Reserve (BMER) has many unmarked criss-crossing trails: a couple trailheads (click here for map of "Muffin Hill Trail") can be found north of Vandenberg Village (behind Cabrillo High School or at the north end of Vanguard Dr), and another trailhead is to the west of Harris Grade Road near its intersection with Rucker Road. More details about the Eco-Reserve, including hiking information can be found HERELa Purisima Mission State Historical Park (LPMSHP) has a considerable amount of Burton Mesa Chaparral plants on their soil.

A NEW PLANT DATABASE: Don Tate, a local plant aficionado, has used the Calflora database, a preeminent botany website based on the latest taxonomic information, and rife with photographs and tools for identification, to create “polygons” defining specific areas on a map, and he wishes to share that with us. So, if you use the link for the polygon, you are treated to the world of plants that reside in just that area. The caption is “What Grows Here”. Click on any of the criteria, like “shrub”, or “grasslike” or “annual herb” to see how many there are and see species names and representative photos . You will note that several of the pictures on the website were submitted by Don Tate himself. If you click on a single photo, it will be exhibited very large-scale, with fine detail. Try it! I guarantee you'll love it. Note, you can click on the “MAP” to toggle it into or out of view, in order to read the details on the plants. Play around with various buttons (or icons) to change, expand, or contract the information displayed.
Here is a polygon for BMER and LPMSHP.
You may have to click on "SEARCH" to get the criteria to display.


This page has been called "What's Blooming" since the website began (in 2000). It originally posted pictures of  plants endemic to the Burton Mesa Chaparral (BMC) that were found blooming at the Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden (BMCG). Beginning Sept 2015, in recognition that local endemic botanic specimens can be found in several places outside the CBG, such as the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve; and that as plants go through the seasons, photos of them without blooms may be of interest, the page is evolving to represent native plants blooming and not blooming, that are found inside and outside the botanic garden. Eventually there will be a link to show non-native plants that have succeeded in the Mediterranean climate at the City of Lompoc Drought Tolerant Garden and Beattie Park.

Drought affected the number of blooms seen in 2013 through 2015. Some species, like Rush-Rose (see 2012 photos farther below) were not seen blooming (or were not photographed) since 2012.  Others, like the Lompoc Monkey Flower, manage to bloom abundantly, despite the drought. In 2016, rainfall was higher, and many plants bloomed that year and into the present.


The LVBHS "mascot" featured on the cover page of our newsletter is Lompoc MonkeyflowerMimulus aurrantiacus Subsp. Lompocensis. NOTE: The sticky monkeyflower has been re-classified, and the accepted Latin name is now Diplacus aurantiacus ssp. aurantiacus or ssp. lompocensis.  Abundant in the Burton Mesa habitat, it was found blooming on the Burton Mesa on March 28, 2013. Photo by Al Thompson.


The following bloomed in mid-June of 2014 and 2015.  Photos were taken at the Chaparral Botanic Garden and at various trails in the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and in Burton Mesa Chaparral, including at La Purisima Mission. Credit for photos: Al Thompson, except where otherwise noted.

Coulter's Snapdragon (Antirrhinum coulterianum). Uncommon.

Coulter's Snapdragon (Antirrhinum coulterianum)     

Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). Common.   

 Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum). Prevalent chaparral shrub.
Close-up of bloom                                                             Chamise shrub

left, Seacliff Buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)    
right, California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum subsp. fasciculatum)


 California Spineflower (Mucronea californica). Uncommon.
Close-up, Photo by Dave Pierce                                                    
Wedge-leaved Horkelia  (Horkelia cuneata)
Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)
Fringed Indian Pink (Silene laciniata subsp. Major). Possible variation!
California Croton (Croton californicus).  Low growing, common in sandy soils.



yellow flrs
  Deerweed Acmispon glaber   Rush-Rose  Helianthemum scoparium

  Bush Monkeyflower   Mimulus aurantiacus   Golden Yarrow  Eriophyllum confertiflorum

Check these out! "Yellow Composite of the Month"- "Big Stinker found at sewer plant!"

Try this site for more wildflowers  or  take a look at this Herbarium

Created by Warren Arnold  cwarrenarnold@verizon.net and
Revised by Julie Levy 9-16-15, 6-1-17, 9-17-17, 3-15-18
Updated 2021.

Back to Top