Plant Guide to Heller's Bend Trail

This is a working list, about which I make no guarantees at all until I officially release it. Use at your own risk!

Note that I have not yet covered this trail during the spring, so the list is incomplete, with a larger-than-usual number of unidentified taxa.

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Plant Communities and Floristics
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


The route described in this guide is 2.1 miles total, with a total elevation gain and loss of ~720 feet.

Directions to the trailhead:

From I-15 north of Fallbrook: First head to downtown Fallbrook by taking the Mission Road exit, turning west (right) on Mission Road, and following the road into town. (On the west side of the freeway, Mission Road will curve north before heading west.) You'll pass through a stoplight at Stagecoach Drive, with a "Welcome to Fallbrook Avocado Capital" sign at a real estate office, continue winding through curves, and go through another stoplight near downtown at Brandon Road and head up a small hill. On the way down from that hill, the speed limit will change to 25 mph, and you'll pass through the stoplight at Main Street. The next block also has a stoplight, Pico Avenue, with a sign "to De Luz Road".

Continue on E. Mission Road past Pico. One block farther, it turns 90° left and becomes S. Mission Road (confusing, huh?). Take that through town, and continue on the 4 lane section of the highway to a series of 3 stop lights at the high school, which is on the left. 1.5 miles after the last traffic light at Winter Haven Road, you'll see Heller's Bend Road on the right. Don't take this one. (It is a loop road, and you want the other entrance. It won't hurt to take this one, but it'll be slower and harder to find the preserve.) Continue on for about 0.7 mile or so, cruising down a fairly steep hill, and on the right you'll find the other end of Heller's Bend Road. (They've just recently graded the heck out of the west side of S. Mission Road there.)

Turn right on Heller's Bend Road, go around a curve to the left, and Heller's Bend Preserve will be on your left, with a signed entrance. To park in front of it, you'll have to continue on Heller's Bend Road until you get to a driveway on the right which you can use to turn around.

Highlights of This Trail

Plant Communities and Floristics

(Plant community info to be supplied.)

The Trail plant list contains 133 taxa, of which 116 have so far been identified, in 1.22 unique miles of trail. Of these 116 taxa, 43 (37%) are non-native.

I have plotted these numbers against the other trails in my database. The plots show:

Summary statistics:

By Number

LifeformNativeNon-nativeTotal Taxa
Perennial Herbs25732
Perennial Grasses325
Annual Grasses066
Annual Herbs162541

By Percent

LifeformNativeNon-nativeTotal Taxa
Perennial Herbs34%16%28%
Perennial Grasses4%5%4%
Annual Grasses0%14%5%
Annual Herbs22%58%35%

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in my database that contain each taxon on this trail. I had 73 trails in my database when this histogram was made; 5 of those trails, including this one, are in the Fallbrook area. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in my database; numbers of "5" or smaller may indicate taxa found only in Fallbrook.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa116100%

I found 17 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ? or sp in the id? column in the guide, and do not have any number given in the #all column.

The taxa that are truly unique, or almost unique, to this trail or area, out of the 73 trails in my database on 27 February 2004, are:

#allLatin NameCommon NameDistribution in Southern California / Distribution in Trail Guides
1Chamaesyce maculata*spotted spurgeCA-FP; waste places, gardens; < 200 m. This was found at the edge of the orchard, so is probably a holdover from when the orchard was irrigated.
2Verbascum virgatum*wand mulleinSW; disturbed areas; < 300 m. Found only here and at Eaton Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.
2Urtica urens*dwarf nettleCA-FP; waste areas, gardens, orchards. Found here and at the San Elijo Lagoon.
2Oxalis albicansCalifornia oxalisSCo, ChI, WTR. This species is so far confined to the Fallbrook / Santa Rosa Plateau / Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve trail guides. I have two occurrences where the subspecies is not defined yet, here and on the south Santa Margarita River Trail. The Santa Rosa Plateau has one occurrence of ssp. californica, and the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve has one occurrence of ssp. pilosa.
3Chenopodium californicumCalifornia goosefootSW. Found here, at the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, and at Laurel Canyon in Orange County.
4Torilis arvensis*field hedge-parsleyCA-FP, rapidly spreading. Found only in and near the Fallbrook area, on the two Santa Margarita River Trails, and on one Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve trail.
5Plagiobothrys nothofulvusrusty-haired popcorn flowerCA-FP. Found here, on three trails at the Santa Rosa Plateau, and on the Kelly Ditch Trail in the Cuyamacas.

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. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

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

The first time the Heller's Bend addition was botanized was 2/24/04. Hence the numbers for that day are given first for the portion of the trail botanized previously, and then for the entire trail. The number of species on the old trail decreased from 107 to 102, even though two new species were added, for two reasons. First, six unknown species (baby plants or dead plants) were deleted because they turned out to be other species in the guide, and second, three off-trail taxa had been erroneously included in the total count.

Note that the trail has not been walked during the spring, and hence the list is undoubtedly quite incomplete so far.

Botanical Trip Reports

24 February 2004

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page (7 pages)

This guide begins at the fence opening. Then immediately head right along the gate to get to the paved road next to the coast live oak. Since the trailhead area is weed-whacked, some of the annuals at the beginning of the guide may not be easily visible here. In those cases, their first non-whacked occurrence later will be noted.

Mile#Sid?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Trail begins at opening in fence to left of gate across road; elevation ~265 feet (80 m). Sign: "Heller's Bend Preserve. Conservation Land... Fallbrook Land Conservancy."
0.00r1 *slender wild oatsAvena barbata5 / 120
0.00b2 *shortpod mustardHirschfeldia incana99 / 938
0.00r3~*wand mulleinVerbascum virgatum+3 / 22
0.00r4 common bedstrawGalium aparine99 / 920
0.00r5 *common chickweedStellaria media99 / 317
0.00r6 *sow thistleSonchus oleraceus99 / 922
0.00r7 *little horseweedConyza bonariensis / 210
0.00r8 California blackberryRubus ursinus5 / 212
0.00r9 *foxtail barleyHordeum murinum ssp. leporinum / 214
0.00r  (coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia)
0.00r10 branching phaceliaPhacelia ramosissima var. latifolia / 23
0.00r11 *sweet alyssumLobularia maritima20 / 24
0.00r  (greater periwinkle, Vinca major)
0.00r  (white nightshade, Solanum douglasii)
0.00r  (sacred datura, Datura wrightii)
0.00r12 poison oakToxicodendron diversilobum20 / 529
0.00r13 horseweedConyza canadensis / 224
0.01r14 blue elderberrySambucus mexicana5 / 535
0.01r15 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens / 37
0.01r16 *Bermuda buttercupOxalis pes-caprae5 / 15
0.01r17 *rattail fescueVulpia myuros+30 / 25
0.01b18 *Italian thistleCarduus pycnocephalus20 / 310
0.01r  (Desert wild grape, Vitis girdiana)
 r19 coast live oakQuercus agrifolia var. agrifolia30 / 931
0.02r20 toyonHeteromeles arbutifolia7 / 735
 l21 dove weedEremocarpus setigerus30 / 212
 l22 *tocaloteCentaurea melitensis / 32
0.03   Curve right; pole on left.
0.03l23 telegraph weedHeterotheca grandiflora10 / 322
0.04r  Brookie Thom bench.
 r  (giant wild rye, Leymus condensatus)
0.04l  Jct. path
0.04r24 *henbitLamium amplexicaule5 / 17
0.04r25 *milk thistleSilybum marianum5 / 18
 l  common bedstrawGalium aparine+ /  
0.05r  (wild-cucumber, Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus)
0.05r26 (hoary nettle, Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea)
0.05l27 *smilo grassPiptatherum miliaceum20 / 116
0.05r28 mule fatBaccharis salicifolia1 / 129
0.05l29?unk deciduous tree with 13-pinnate leaf; leaflets serrate, not symmetric. Pecan or walnut?11
0.05 30 wild grapeVitis girdiana5 / 17
0.06   Cross middle of Ostrich Farm Creek on Arizona crossing; elevation ~240 feet (75 m)
0.06r  Check for arroyo willow, Salix lasiolepis.
0.06l31 red willowSalix laevigata1 / 115
0.06l32spwild geraniumGeranium carolinianum or G. dissectum30 / 1 
0.06r33 *fennelFoeniculum vulgare3 / 112
0.06b34spdockRumex sp.3 / 1 
0.06r35 mugwortArtemisia douglasiana20 / 123
0.06r36 western ragweedAmbrosia psilostachya10 / 125
0.06r37 *bermuda grassCynodon dactylon10 / 216
0.06l38 southern miner's lettuceClaytonia perfoliata ssp. mexicana30 / 313
0.06l39 *field hedge-parsleyTorilis arvensis50 / 34
0.06r40 *California burcloverMedicago polymorpha / 26
0.06l41spgoosefootChenopodium sp.5 / 1 
0.06l42 laurel sumacMalosma laurina10 / 929
0.07r43 Fremont cottonwoodPopulus fremontii ssp. fremontii1 / 18
0.07l44 *English plantainPlantago lanceolata5 / 114
0.07l45 *Australian brass-buttonsCotula australis20 / 111
0.07l46~*annual blue grassPoa annua5 / 18
0.07r  (California sagebrush, Artemisia californica)
0.07l47 slender madiaMadia gracilis10 / 17
0.07l  Jct. path
0.07r48 *purple wild radishRaphanus sativus10 / 19
0.07r49 fiesta flowerPholistoma auritum var. auritum99 / 910
0.07r  Note impressive rocks forming creek bank.
 r50 *prickly lettuceLactuca serriola10 / 322
 r51 *scarlet pimpernelAnagallis arvensis20 / 916
 r52?unk similar to Durango Root?1 / 1 
 r53 white everlastingGnaphalium canescens ssp. microcephalum5 / 530
 r54 goldback fernPentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis5 / 214
0.08r  Jct. path to right. Curve left.
0.08r  (Jepson's blue wildrye, Elymus glaucus ssp. jepsonii)
0.08r  (hollyleaf redberry, Rhamnus ilicifolia)
0.08b  A pole on each side of the road.
0.08r55 heartleaf penstemonKeckiella cordifolia20 / 519
0.08r  Liverworts
0.08r56~small-flowered melicaMelica imperfecta30 / 126
0.08r57 coffee fernPellaea andromedifolia5 / 217
0.08r58 bush monkeyflowerMimulus aurantiacus5 / 531
0.08r59 wild-cucumberMarah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus5 / 535
 r60 purple snapdragonAntirrhinum nuttallianum ssp. nuttallianum10 / 311
0.10r61 narrow-leaved miner's lettuceClaytonia parviflora ssp. parviflora10 / 19
0.10r62?annual Phacelia or eucrypta??1 / 1 
0.10r63spvirgin's bowerClematis pauciflora / 7
 r64 hollyleaf redberryRhamnus ilicifolia20 / 931
0.10r  Jct. steep use trail.
0.10r65 California chalk lettuceDudleya pulverulenta ssp. pulverulenta3 / 18
0.10   Cross small drainage.
0.10l66 stinging nettleUrtica dioica ssp. holosericea10 / 18
0.10r67 California polypodyPolypodium californicum30 / 214
0.13   Switchback right; Jct. path to left.
0.13l68 California maidenhair fernAdiantum jordanii1 / 16
0.15l69 Torrey's scrub oakQuercus acutidens3 / 111
0.15l70 basketbushRhus trilobata1 / 114
0.15c71spfour-leaf polycarpPolycarpon tetraphyllum+3 / 1 
0.15c72spfilareeErodium botrys or brachycarpum50 / 3 
0.16l  (olive, Olea europaea)
0.16   Road curves left 90°.
0.16l73 *white-stemmed filareeErodium moschatum20 / 111
0.17l74 lemonade berryRhus integrifolia+1 / 111
0.17l  (pomegranate, Punica granatum)
0.17   Jct. road to left; elevation ~350 feet (105 m). Curve right 90° and enter old orchard.
0.17r75 orangecitrus sp. /  
0.18b  Jct. road to left and jct. path to right. Continue ahead.
0.18c76 *spotted spurgeChamaesyce maculata5 / 31
0.18l  Jct. another road.
0.19b77 avocado
0.20r  Gill Family bench.
0.21r  Jct. path
0.22r78 saw-toothed goldenbushHazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides10 / 526
0.22l  Large nest in tree
0.22   Begin long curve left 90°.
0.22r79 white sageSalvia apiana30 / 527
0.22r80 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum30 / 937
0.24r81 California sagebrushArtemisia californica20 / 532
0.24l82 *horehoundMarrubium vulgare20 / 220
0.25l83 deerweedLotus scoparius var. scoparius20 / 919
0.26r  Jct. steep use trail
0.26r84sspsticky cinquefoilPotentilla glandulosa ssp. glandulosa5 / 18
0.26r  Jct. steep use trail at ~130°.
0.29r85~triangular-fruit sedgeCarex triquetra1 / 111
0.29r86 California goosefootChenopodium californicum50 / 93
0.30r87 California four o'clockMirabilis californica2 / 214
0.30r  virgin's bowerClematis pauciflora+10 / 2 
0.30   Curve left.
0.31r88 California peonyPaeonia californica20 / 410
0.31r89 coyote bushBaccharis pilularis3 / 318
0.34r90 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia20 / 538
0.35r91 narrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium5 / 539
0.35r92 blue-eyed grassSisyrinchium bellum10 / 212
0.35r93 California everlastingGnaphalium californicum10 / 525
0.36   Jct. road on left, which will be on your return route; elevation ~500 feet (150 m)
0.36l94 *Russian thistleSalsola tragus20 / 322
0.37   One pole on left; 2 poles on right.
0.37r95 San Diego morning-gloryCalystegia macrostegia ssp. tenuifolia5 / 216
0.38   Road curves right 90°
0.38b96 coastal goldenbushIsocoma menziesii+10 / 19
0.39l97speastern redbudCercis canadensis+2 / 1 
0.39l  Sign: "Americorps...".
0.39l98 *Crete weedHedypnois cretica10 / 113
0.39l99~*narrowleaf filagoFilago gallica10 / 130
0.39r100 purple needlegrassNassella pulchra20 / 29
0.39r  Pat Scott bench.
0.40r  "Kate Folger and Stand Strong and all the ladies at Judi's Way To Fitness" bench.
0.41   Road curves left 90°.
0.41r  sweet alyssumLobularia maritima+10 / 1 
0.41l101 *nit grassGastridium ventricosum5 / 115
 c  rattail fescueVulpia myuros+ /  
0.42   Curve left 90°; now following property boundary at top; elevation ~545 feet (165 m)
0.42c  little horseweedConyza bonariensis+ /  
0.47l  Cross the head of a small drainage.
0.47r102 *castor beanRicinus communis5 / 112
0.49l103 canchalaguaCentaurium venustum2 / 15
0.50r104 *common cudweedGnaphalium luteo-album5 / 16
0.51   Y-jct; elevation ~540 feet (165 m). The road curves left 90° and heads down; the trail straight ahead enters the 2003 addition to Heller's Bend; go straight and take it. You'll return to this same spot .
0.52r  Some huge castor bean plants.
0.52r105 *oliveOlea europaea2 / 28
0.52r  Upright irrigation metal pipe protected by two metal pipes.
0.56r106 black sageSalvia mellifera1 / 131
0.60   Trail turns left 45°
0.61   Local peak elevation of ~575 feet (175 m). Trail turns left 90° and goes steeply downhill.
0.63r  Jct. use path.
0.64   Jct. old road; go right on it; elevation ~560 feet (170 m). You'll return to this same spot soon and take the road downhill.
0.64r107 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum10 / 541
0.66   Road turns right 90°
0.68   Enter an area bulldozed some time ago, with lots of young growth.
0.68r108 bicolored everlastingGnaphalium bicolor1 / 123
0.69l109 *petty spurgeEuphorbia peplus5 / 17
0.69l  (Water pressure relief valve)
0.70   End road at fence; elevation ~620 feet (190 m); high point of entire guide. Turn around and retrace your steps to the trail / road junction.
0.76   Trail / road junction; continue downhill on road and switchback right.
0.83l  Jct. road; continue straight.
0.83r110 climbing bedstrawGalium nuttallii ssp. nuttallii1 / 118
0.86r  A little clearing; switchback left.
0.88   Switchback right.
0.89l111 Parry's phaceliaPhacelia parryi3 / 15
0.89l112sppopcorn flowerCryptantha sp. /  
0.92r  A lichen similar to Cladonia sp., with little whitish golf-tees for fruiting bodies.
0.93l113?unk dead annual51
0.93   Cross drainage; elevation ~400 feet (120 m)
0.93r  Fallen dead tree of unknown species.
0.94b114spnavarretiaNavarretia sp.20 / 1 
0.94l115~rattlesnake weedDaucus pusillus3 / 116
0.95c116spannual linanthusLinanthus sp.10 / 1 
0.98l  Jct. overgrown old road.
0.98l117?fiddleneck?Amsinckia sp.?10 / 1 
0.99   Check for different Cryptantha sp..
0.99l  Jct. road.
1.00   Road curves right 45° and enters weedy area with lots of mustard.
1.03r  Small cleared area; road turns left 45°
1.03r  Unusual tall-stemmed brown mushroom; probably from dumping of mushroom compost here.
1.03r118 *tree tobaccoNicotiana glauca1 / 116
1.03r119 *dwarf nettleUrtica urens10 / 12
1.03   Road bulldozed in late 2003.
1.05l120~Vasey's prickly pearOpuntia Xvaseyi1 / 116
1.05r121 *London rocketSisymbrium irio5 / 17
1.05l122~San Diego wreathplantStephanomeria diegensis5 / 113
1.05l123 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium3 / 136
1.07l sp(tall coast prickly pear?, Opuntia oricola?; or western prickly pear?, Opuntia Xoccidentalis?)
1.08l124sspCalifornia oxalisOxalis albicans2 / 12
1.08l125 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa10 / 19
1.09r126~rusty-haired popcorn flowerPlagiobothrys nothofulvus5 / 15
1.09r  Property boundary pole; right of road all whacked vegetation.
1.11l  Property boundary pole; elevation ~300 feet (90 m); turn around and go back up the road.
1.46r  Jct. trail to old portion of Heller's Bend; go right and take it.
1.59   The Y-jct at mile 0.51; elevation ~540 feet (165 m). Turn right 90° and head down.
1.63r  Property marker pole
1.64   Curve left 90° and head down.
1.67r127 *bristly ox-tonguePicris echioides5 / 17
1.67   wand mulleinVerbascum virgatum+ /  
1.69   Cross shallow drainage at elevation ~480 feet (145 m) and start uphill section.
1.71   Check for different Cryptantha sp..
1.71r128~long-stemmed buckwheatEriogonum elongatum var. elongatum5 / 117
1.72r129~*windmill pinkSilene gallica10 / 121
1.76l130 cotton-batting plantGnaphalium stramineum1 / 19
1.76   Jct. main road; elevation ~500 feet (150 m). Turn right and return to trailhead.
2.12   Back at Trailhead.
    Species previously found on the trail but without precise locations:
  131 white nightshadeSolanum douglasii / 213
  132 sacred daturaDatura wrightii / 213
  133 Jepson's blue wildryeElymus glaucus ssp. jepsonii5 / 37

Comments On Specific Species

Verbascum virgatum. The id comes from the second occurrence at mile 1.67. The first occurrence is at the trailhead, where it will likely get weed-whacked.

Vulpia myuros. The plants at the trailhead may be weed-whacked, so I noted the second occurrence of this species.

I looked at a number of samples from mile ~0.41. The first two samples had totally glabrous lemmas, making them var. myuros. The next sample had some glabrous and some ciliate lemmas. The next two samples pretty much had ciliate lemmas, making them var. hirsuta. All specimens were growing intermixed within inches of each other.

This is evidence that these two varieties are no longer separate in America. These varieties could be perfectly good varieties in their homeland, presumably where they don't interbreed. But here they have possibly mixed their genes to become one species, with the varieties no longer separate.

I'll collect multiple samples from other locations to see if this is always the case.

Galium aparine, Lobularia maritima, Vulpia myuros, Conyza bonariensis, Verbascum virgatum. The plants at the trailhead may be weed-whacked, so I noted the second occurrence of each of this species.

Rhus integrifolia, Cercis canadensis. These specimens were planted.

Isocoma menziesii. In my experience, the subspecies are not separable in Southern California. See Comments on the Jepson Manual and A Flora of Southern California by Munz: Isocoma menziesii.

Clematis pauciflora. A firm identification was made at the unnumbered entry. This occurrence is not numbered since it is likely that a previous numbered specimen is also this species. The unnumbered entry will only be counted as a new species if the first occurrence turns out to be a different species.

Polycarpon tetraphyllum. These specimens were found on 8/1/01, and the late-season flowers and stipules are enough different to make it somewhat ambiguous to discriminate them from P. depressum. (The leaves are mostly deciduous, eliminating that portion of the key; the stipules are now 1.2-1.6 mm, in between the two species, and the awns are now only 0.1 mm. I checked a known population of P. tetraphyllum, which also had awns of only 0.1 mm in its last flowers, whereas it had awns of over 0.3 mm on the previous flowers.) But the id is still likely due to the long (2.0-2.8 mm), strongly-keeled sepals.

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Copyright © 2002-2004 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 10 March 2004.