Daley Ranch: Plant Guide to Rock Ridge Trail

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

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

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


This trail guide begins at the southern trailhead of the Rock Ridge Trail, which is a trail that cuts near the center of the Boulder Loop Trail.

To reach the trailhead, begin at the parking lot at the main entrance to Daley Ranch, which is at the southernmost part of the property, just north of Lake Dixon at the top of La Honda Drive in Escondido. The only toilets nearby are at Lake Dixon, which have running water. It is free to walk through the Lake Dixon entrance to use them. A porta-potty is at the Ranch House at Daley Ranch, but is not along this route.

There are two options to get to the Rock Ridge Trail:

  1. Take the Ranch House Trail, which is the paved main road of Daley Ranch, north for 0.7 miles to its intersection with the southern portion of the Boulder Loop Trail. Take the Boulder Loop Trail left for 0.4 miles to the signed Rock Ridge Trail southern trailhead. (Trail #1 to #3 to D on the Trail Map.)

  2. Take the Ranch House Trail, which is the paved main road of Daley Ranch, north for 0.25 miles to the utility easement on the left. Turn left on the dirt road, and then immediately right on the easement that heads north for 0.4 miles to its intersection with the Boulder Loop Trail. (Near the intersection, bear left at the Y-junction to avoid the very steep section of the easement road.) This easement is not shown on the official Daley Ranch Trail map, but essentially cuts off the bend to the east of the Ranch House Trail. At the Boulder Loop Trail, turn left and continue for 0.2 miles to the signed Rock Ridge Trail southern trailhead.

Both of these options have about 400 feet of elevation gain to get to the Rock Ridge Trail southern trailhead.

The Rock Ridge Trail itself is 0.60 miles in length, with 170 feet of elevation gain and 50 feet of elevation loss. A roundtrip from the south entrance of Daley Ranch is 3.4 miles with ~650 feet of elevation gain and loss using the first option; or 2.9 miles roundtrip with ~650 feet of elevation gain and loss using the utility easement.

The Rock Ridge south trailhead GPS NAD27 coordinates, are (33.17461,-117.05797). GPS coordinates of the entire trail, with cumulative mileages along the trail, are here. Note that the elevations in that file are from my GPS receiver, not from the USGS map, and hence cannot be trusted to be accurate. However, a quick check reveals that they are generally within about 10 feet of the elevations from the USGS map. Elevations in the trail guide below are from the USGS map, and are accurate.

Highlights of This Trail

Some of the botanical highlights of this trail are:

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 90 trails in our database when this histogram was made; 2 of those trails, including this one, are at Daley Ranch. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found only on this list, among all the trails in our database; numbers of "2" may indicate taxa found only in this area.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa130100%

We found 8 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ?, sp or ssp in the id? column in the guide, and do not have a number given in the #all column.

The taxa that are unique to this trail, or to Daley Ranch, out of our 90 trails on 2 April 2005, are:

Latin NameCommon NameDistribution
Centunculus minimuschaffweedThis is found only in vernal pool and similar moist places below 950 m, and only in the SCo in Southern California, which is a disjunct from its main distribution in middle California.
Horkelia truncataRamona horkeliaThis is a RARE taxon in the JM, found only from 400-1300 m in the PR and n Baja CA. It is also on the Hidden Spring Trail at Daley Ranch.
Juncus dubiusdubius rushThis is found only in the PR in Southern California, a disjunct from its main distribution from middle California to Oregon, including Death Valley. This appears to take the place of Juncus balticus, which seems to have a mostly complementary distribution to J. dubious. It is also on the Hidden Spring Trail at Daley Ranch.
Mimulus palmeriPalomar monkeyflowerSee note below.
Plagiobothrys collinus var. gracilisgraceful popcorn flowerDry places; gen < 200 m; s SCo (near San Diego), ChI. We have var. fulvescens on one trail, at Mt. Hillyer in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Plantago elongatalong-leaf plantainSaline and alkaline places, beaches, vernal pools; < 200 m; CA-FP (exc CaR, SN).
Psilocarphus tenellus var. tenellusslender woolly marblesDry slopes on gen disturbed soil, rarely vernal pools; 10-2000 m; CA-FP.
Ophioglossum californicumCalifornia adder's-tongueThis is an Uncommon taxon in the JM found from 60-300 m only in SCo in Southern California. Its distribution ranges from the SN to Mexico, but is only seen in the early spring during rainy periods.
Sagina decumbens ssp. occidentaliswestern pearlwortThis is found in a variety of habitats below 2000 m, at SCo, ChI and PR in Southern California. Its distribution extends north to British Columbia.

In addition, this is the only trail in our database in which some specimens of scarlet pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis, have white flowers. See note below.

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 4/12/03 fieldwork was part of a fast-paced hike with a botany class, and only noted a handful of species not found earlier on that trip on other trails. It is listed out of order in the above table since it was used only to supplement the list made on 7/31/04.

We thank an anonymous friend for her help with the fieldwork on 7/31/04.

Botanical Trip Reports

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page (6 pages)

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Begin trail guide at south junction with the Boulder Loop Trail, in grassland sometimes called "Boulder Loop Meadow"; elevation 1580 feet (480 m)
0.00b1 toad rushJuncus bufonius var. bufonius99 / 92
0.00c2 slender woolly marblesPsilocarphus tenellus var. tenellus2 / 11
0.00c3 *weak blue grassPoa infirma2 / 12
0.00b4 slender tarweedHemizonia fasciculata30 / 512
0.00b5 *grass polyLythrum hyssopifolia20 / 42
0.00b6 *narrowleaf filagoFilago gallica99 / 944
0.00b7 *windmill pinkSilene gallica99 / 929
0.00b8 red maidsCalandrinia ciliata2 / 114
0.00l9 pygmy-weedCrassula connata99 / 921
0.00b10 *scarlet pimpernelAnagallis arvensis+99 / 925
0.00b11 *long-beaked filareeErodium botrys / 6
0.00b12 *rattail fescueVulpia myuros var. myuros / 12
0.00b13 owl's-cloverCastilleja densiflora+50 / 93
0.00b14 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens / 48
0.00r15 popcorn flowerCryptantha intermedia / 23
0.00r16 San Diego mountain mahoganyCercocarpus minutiflorus20 / 511
0.00r17 Spanish cloverLotus purshianus var. purshianus / 26
0.00r18 hooked skunkweedNavarretia hamata ssp. hamata99 / 95
0.00r19 *wall bedstrawGalium parisiense99 / 96
0.00r20 *tocaloteCentaurea melitensis50 / 543
0.00r21 *sow thistleSonchus oleraceus / 30
0.00r22 rough-seeded blue toad-flaxLinaria canadensis var. texana / 7
0.00r23 *soft chessBromus hordeaceus50 / 538
0.00b24 *smooth cat's earHypochaeris glabra / 30
0.00r25 slender combseedPectocarya linearis ssp. ferocula / 3
0.00r26 graceful popcorn flowerPlagiobothrys collinus var. gracilis10 / 21
0.00r  (California buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum)
0.00r27 blue-eyed grassSisyrinchium bellum30 / 519
0.00r  (mouse-ear chickweed, Cerastium glomeratum)
0.00b28 dove weedEremocarpus setigerus10 / 124
0.00r29 western ragweedAmbrosia psilostachya20 / 235
0.00r30 black sageSalvia mellifera5 / 339
0.00b31 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia20 / 951
0.00l32 Mariposa rushJuncus dubius50 / 92
0.00r33 hollyleaf cherryPrunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia10 / 512
0.00l34 deergrassMuhlenbergia rigens10 / 320
0.00r35 poison oakToxicodendron diversilobum10 / 343
0.00l36 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus99 / 946
0.00l37 checkerbloomSidalcea malviflora ssp. sparsifolia50 / 926
0.01r  (Ramona lilac, Ceanothus tomentosus var. olivaceus)
0.01r38~small-head field cloverTrifolium microcephalum / 6
0.01r  Jct. illegal path to boulders; trail curves left
0.01l39 narrow-leaf milkweedAsclepias fascicularis20 / 56
0.02l40?unk short-rhizomatous per like carex?50 / 5 
0.02l41~nodding needlegrassNassella cernua / 11
0.02l42 *purple false-bromeBrachypodium distachyon30 / 35
0.02r43 chamiseAdenostoma fasciculatum10 / 337
0.02l44 *mouse-ear chickweedCerastium glomeratum / 14
0.02l  (fragrant everlasting, Gnaphalium canescens ssp. beneolens)
0.03r  (California everlasting, Gnaphalium californicum)
0.03l45 fragrant everlastingGnaphalium canescens ssp. beneolens1 / 118
0.04r46 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum / 48
0.04l  (Engelmann oak, Quercus engelmannii)
0.04r  (laurel sumac, Malosma laurina)
0.04l47 *slender wild oatsAvena barbata / 28
0.04r  (climbing bedstraw, Galium nuttallii ssp. nuttallii; saw-toothed goldenbush, Hazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides)
0.04l48 rush-roseHelianthemum scoparium30 / 511
0.06l49 Torrey's scrub oakQuercus acutidens3 / 226
0.07l50 *nit grassGastridium ventricosum10 / 319
0.07l51 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum5 / 352
0.07l  (bush monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus)
0.07b52 saw-toothed goldenbushHazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides10 / 534
0.08r53 meally white pincushionChaenactis artemisiifolia5 / 513
0.08r54 thick-leaved yerba santaEriodictyon crassifolium var. crassifolium5 / 27
0.08r  (Woodrat's nest)
0.08l55 Ramona lilacCeanothus tomentosus var. olivaceus10 / 38
0.09r56ssppurple snapdragonAntirrhinum nuttallianum20 / 5 
0.09r57spsuncupCamissonia sp. /  
0.10r58~common bedstrawGalium aparine / 40
0.10r59 laurel sumacMalosma laurina3 / 140
0.10r60spMariposa lilyCalochortus sp.+ /  
0.10r61 bird's-foot fernPellaea mucronata var. mucronata2 / 229
0.11r  (chaparral yucca, Yucca whipplei)
0.11l62 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides / 27
0.11l63 seedling: Ramona horkelia?seedling Horkelia truncata? /  
0.11l64~everlasting nest-strawStylocline gnaphaloides / 8
0.11b65 *Mediterranean pygmy-weedCrassula tillaea / 7
0.11l66spcotton-batting plant?Gnaphalium stramineum? /  
0.11l67 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium / 53
0.11l68~*brass-buttonsCotula coronopifolia / 4
0.11l  Jct. illegal path; switchback right.
0.11l69 mission manzanitaXylococcus bicolor10 / 313
0.11l70~small-flowered soap plantChlorogalum parviflorum / 7
0.11r71 California filagoFilago californica / 17
0.11b72spprostrate spineflower?Chorizanthe procumbens?50 / 53
0.11r73 common skullcapScutellaria tuberosa20 / 32
0.12r74 sugar bushRhus ovata2 / 125
0.12l75 *prickly sow thistleSonchus asper ssp. asper / 21
0.13   Local high point on trail; elevation 1620 feet (495 m)
0.13l76~canchalaguaCentaurium venustum5 / 56
0.13l77 Palomar monkeyflowerMimulus palmeri+10 / 21
0.15l78 minute-flowered cryptanthaCryptantha micromeres1 / 13
0.15l  Liverwort area
0.15l  (The "Phallus rock", aka "The Significant Digit")
0.15l79 wild-cucumberMarah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus2 / 242
0.15l80 six-weeks fescueVulpia octoflora var. octoflora5 / 13
0.15l81 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium1 / 116
0.15r82 wild celeryApiastrum angustifolium30 / 212
0.15r83 meadow-rueThalictrum fendleri var. polycarpum5 / 35
0.15r84 western pearlwortSagina decumbens ssp. occidentalis30 / 31
0.15r85 few-flowered heterocodonHeterocodon rariflorum10 / 32
0.17r86 California everlastingGnaphalium californicum2 / 241
0.18r87 milk maidsCardamine californica15 / 38
0.18r  (southern honeysuckle, Lonicera subspicata var. denudata)
0.18l88 Parish's purple nightshadeSolanum parishii2 / 218
0.18l89 blue dicksDichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum10 / 244
0.18r  (scaly lipfern, Cheilanthes clevelandii)
0.19r90 coast-range melicMelica imperfecta2 / 239
0.19l91 climbing bedstrawGalium nuttallii ssp. nuttallii1 / 130
0.19r92 narrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium1 / 144
0.19r  (Nice stand of mission manzanita, Xylococcus bicolor)
0.19   Switchback left.
0.20r93 toyonHeteromeles arbutifolia2 / 144
0.21l94 bush monkeyflowerMimulus aurantiacus2 / 241
0.21l95 southern tauschiaTauschia arguta6 / 28
0.21l96 *Italian thistleCarduus pycnocephalus+1 / 113
0.21l97 silverback fernPentagramma triangularis ssp. viscosa5 / 16
0.21l98 scaly lipfernCheilanthes clevelandii5 / 13
0.21l99 California lace fernAspidotis californica3 / 19
0.21l100 California wood fernDryopteris arguta1 / 116
0.21l  The many lichens growing on the bark of the coast live oak here suggests it is a slow-growing dwarfed specimen, caused perhaps by the lack of soil available to its roots.
0.21l101 coast live oakQuercus agrifolia var. agrifolia2 / 243
0.22   Local high point on trail, then a local low point on trail.
0.23r102 chaparral yuccaYucca whipplei5 / 329
0.24l  (foothill needlegrass, Nassella lepida)
0.25   Local low point on trail; elevation 1600 feet (488 m)
0.26l  Ramona horkeliaHorkelia truncata+10 / 32
0.27   Trail jags right.
0.29   Trail begins a steep climb.
0.29l103 California plantainPlantago erecta / 11
0.29l  (hollyleaf redberry, Rhamnus ilicifolia; seashore bentgrass, Agrostis pallens)
0.29l104 white-flowering currantRibes indecorum1 / 121
0.29r105 triangular-fruit sedgeCarex triquetra5 / 214
0.29r106spMariposa lilyCalochortus sp.+5 / 3 
0.32l107 bicolored everlastingGnaphalium bicolor2 / 230
0.32r108 white everlastingGnaphalium canescens ssp. microcephalum2 / 235
0.32r109 California brickellbushBrickellia californica1 / 128
0.32l110 tomcat cloverTrifolium willdenovii5 / 110
0.32r111 Bigelow's spike-mossSelaginella bigelovii1 / 118
0.33l112 California chalk lettuceDudleya pulverulenta ssp. pulverulenta1 / 110
0.33l113 California sagebrushArtemisia californica5 / 244
0.33 114 *wild oatsAvena fatua5 / 117
0.37l115 tuberous sanicleSanicula tuberosa10 / 22
0.38l116?unk tiny erect annual with alt shield-shaped leaves?10 / 1 
0.38r  Wooden fence blocking off illegal trail; trail ends steep climb.
0.38l117 chaffweedCentunculus minimus5 / 21
0.38l118 seashore bentgrassAgrostis pallens20 / 25
0.38r119 bristly bird's beakCordylanthus rigidus ssp. setigerus10 / 325
0.40l120 long-leaf plantainPlantago elongata10 / 11
0.40   Trail curves left.
0.40r  (a bonsai coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia; ladies fingers, Dudleya edulis)
0.40r121 strigose lotusLotus strigosus10 / 128
0.40r122 bajada lupineLupinus concinnus1 / 110
0.40r123sspdeerweedLotus scoparius /  
0.41l124 matchweedGutierrezia sarothrae / 6
0.41r125 coyote bushBaccharis pilularis10 / 324
0.41b126 *starwortSpergula arvensis ssp. arvensis10 / 12
0.43l127 southern honeysuckleLonicera subspicata var. denudata3 / 240
0.44l128 California adder's-tongueOphioglossum californicum10 / 11
0.45r129 Eastwood manzanitaArctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. zacaensis2 / 211
0.45l130 Engelmann oakQuercus engelmannii1 / 124
0.48l  Highest point on trail, elevation 1730 feet (527 m); (Large perched boulder looking like a mouse or tribble facing left, with elephant skin on the near side.)
0.49l131 Pacific sanicleSanicula crassicaulis1 / 119
0.50b132 Cleveland sageSalvia clevelandii10 / 24
0.53r133 coastal goldenbushIsocoma menziesii+1 / 114
0.54   Trail makes a long 90° curve right.
0.55l134 leafy daisyErigeron foliosus var. foliosus3 / 336
0.57   Local high point on trail; trail curves left.
0.58l135 California bee plantScrophularia californica ssp. floribunda1 / 114
0.58r136 *common groundselSenecio vulgaris10 / 117
0.60c137 telegraph weedHeterotheca grandiflora1 / 132
0.60c138 *Bermuda grassCynodon dactylon10 / 127
0.60   End trail guide at north junction with the Boulder Loop Trail; elevation ~1705 feet (520 m)

Comments On Specific Species

Anagallis arvensis. Some of the plants here have white flowers, in addition to many with the usual salmon flowers. Both the JM and Munz mention that this species occasionally has blue flowers; neither mentions the possibility of occasional white flowers. However, many online pages mention white flowers.

Castilleja densiflora. The specimens here are nearly perfect var. densiflora except in one respect: the corolla is well-exserted, not included in the calyx. In particular, their calyx is 12-14 mm; the lower corolla lip is widened gradually, and the corolla pouches are longer than deep. An additional "problem" is that var. densiflora is not supposed to be south of Los Angeles County. (The San Diego County checklist only gives var. gracilis.)

The specimens at the Santa Rosa Plateau are even more troublesome to assign to just a single variety. They seem to have an intermixture of traits assigned to the two varieties.

As a result, we have decided to follow the example of Roberts et al in their Western Riverside County checklist, and Lathrop and Thorne in their Flora of the Santa Rosa Plateau, and simply call the specimens in Southern California by just the species name.

Calochortus sp.. The first specimen on the trail at mile 0.10 has a "V"-shaped leaf; the one at mile 0.29 has a "W"-shaped leaf. We have been told that these are the leaves of C. weedii and C. splendens (but don't remember which is which); we will be delighted to find out, when these plants bloom, if these species can be told apart by their leaves.

Mimulus palmeri. M. palmeri in the JM is the combination of plants from the Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino Mountains previously known under this name, with M. diffusus from the San Jacinto Mountains, Santa Ana mountains and northern Baja Mountains. The CNPS considers these two to be separate species, with M. diffusus a List 4 rare plant.

Carduus pycnocephalus. A single specimen appeared on the trail on 3/29/05, and we weeded it out.

Horkelia truncata. We found a large number of what appear to be seedlings of this species on the trail on 3/29/05; the first one is noted in the guide, as well as the first mature specimen. The mature specimen is not numbered as a new species.

Isocoma menziesii. The subspecies do not seem to be separable in Southern California. See Comments on the Jepson Manual and A Flora of Southern California by Munz: Isocoma menziesii.

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Copyright © 2003-2005 by James Dillane and Tom Chester.
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Last update: 2 April 2005.