Plant Guide to Beach Trail / Broken Hill Trail Loop, Torrey Pines State Reserve

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

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


Most people would describe Torrey Pines State Reserve with a single word: charming. There is no place quite like it. The physical setting is dramatic. There are bold sandstone cliffs, with a variety of patterns from weathering. The sandstone grows beautiful and unusual plants that change from their normal habits away from the ocean to wind-pruned compact growth near the ocean. And some of those plants are trees! Pine trees, no less, of a species found no place on Earth except here and on Santa Rosa Island!

The ocean makes the tableau complete. It is always there, providing its endless vistas to the west if the air is clear. More than anything else, the ocean sets and changes the mood of Torrey Pines. Under a beautiful clear blue sky, the ocean can be gentle and peaceful, with beautiful lines of breaking waves that splash across sandy beaches. Or it can show its force, if winter storms have made large waves, which crash against sturdy rock formations. Or the skies can be gray, the air heavy with fog, blanketing Torrey Pines Reserve from the traffic and other human sounds, making the visitor's world only reach to the nearest plants.

Most of Southern California is igneous rock, so it is a delight to come across the sedimentary rocks here. Instead of granitic soil, the plants here grow in sandy soil. That, and the extreme coastal environment, changes even old friends to almost unrecognizable forms.

But the main appeal to botanists are the rare plants. Jane Strong and I have 73 trails in our database as of 7 February 2004; not a single other trail even comes close to approaching the number of rare and uncommon species found in the trails of Torrey Pines.

The large number of uncommon plants here is probably due to several reasons. First is probably that fact that this location has more in common with Baja California than with the rest of Southern California. The rainfall here is the lowest in cismontane California - only ten inches per year. That low rainfall, coupled with sandy soil that doesn't hold moisture, makes this coastal location more like the desert than any other coastal location in Southern California. For example, one of the uncommon plants found here is listed in the Jepson Manual as being only found in the desert!

The second reason for the large number of uncommon plants is the shameful fact that humans have destroyed 90% of the natural environment along the coast. Out of ~60 miles of coastline in San Diego County south of Camp Pendleton, only the ~4 miles of Torrey Pines and ~2 miles of Cabrillo National Monument remain in a semblance of their natural state.

A biological rule of thumb is that if you destroy 90% of any given habitat, you extirpate half of all the species found in that habitat. Thus we have irrevocably lost half of all the species formerly found in this coastal environment within ~one mile from the beach; these lost species no longer exist at Torrey Pines or anywhere else along the coast. And of course, we've therefore made the remaining species uncommon.

Worse, we have put these remaining species at a much higher risk of extirpation. Previously, with 100% of their habitat intact, if a disturbance extirpated a species in 10% of that habitat, the species could easily recover by spreading from the remaining 90% of that habitat. Now, with only 10% of their habitat intact, any such disturbance extirpates the species forever.

Most visitors are blissfully unaware of this somber story told by the plants at Torrey Pines, and hence can enjoy a visit untarnished with this sad reality. Knowledgeable botanists will treasure their visits to Torrey Pines, too, but their hearts will hold a tinge of sadness in what we humans have done to the plants and animals of this coastal environment.

Directions to Torrey Pines State Reserve:

From the north: Take I-5 south to Del Mar Heights Road, exit #34, which is the next exit after the Via De La Valle / Del Mar Fair / Del Mar Racetrack exit. Turn right, west, on Del Mar Heights Road, take it past the shopping center at the top of the hill, and go down the hill to ~two blocks from the ocean, to the stop light at Camino Del Mar, S21. Turn left on Camino Del Mar (there are two left turn lanes). You'll quickly see the beach, with lots of people parking alongside the road, near the next stoplight at Carmel Valley Road. Continue straight; S21 now changes its name to North Torrey Pines Road, and follow the rest of the directions below.

From the south: Take I-5 north to the Carmel Valley Road exit, Exit #33. Turn left on Carmel Valley Road and take it~1.5 miles to its end at North Torrey Pines Road / Camino Del Mar. Turn left on North Torrey Pines Road, and follow the rest of the directions below.

The rest of the directions: Now, the only tricky part. Immediately past the lagoon bridge, STAY RIGHT (which means you'll actually continue straight ahead)! Almost everyone will curve left as North Torrey Pines Road goes uphill and goes around the east side of Torrey Pines State Reserve. Instead, you "exit" from North Torrey Pines Road by going straight (maybe a bit to the right) into the Torrey Pines State Reserve entrance at the lower parking lot. In a very short distance will be the kiosk where you pay the parking fee.

Immediately after the kiosk and the end of the parking lot, the road turns left and goes uphill. Drive very slowly and carefully on this road, since it is full of bikers and hikers entering or leaving Torrey Pines on foot. Immediately after the first switchback (to the right) is the parking area on the right for the Guy Fleming Trail.

Continue on the Torrey Pines main road to the stop sign at the Visitor Center Parking Lot. Weave through the parking lot to its exit back at the main Torrey Pines Road. Cross the road to the parking lot on the other side of the main road. The signed trailhead for the Beach Trail is immediately next to the bathrooms at the far end of the parking lot.

See Thomas Brothers Map, 1207.

Parts of this trail are shown in the wonderful coastal photographs of Kenneth Adelman. The beach part of this trail is shown in this photograph. Clicking on that photograph gives a 7 MB full-resolution version that clearly shows the steps on the trails and the wire fence lining the edge of the trail. In the full-resolution picture, you can clearly see the junction with the Broken Hill Trail at mile 0.65. (Previous portions of the trail are hard to see. The final loop of the Yucca Point trail is shown in the second photograph to the north.) The trail just beyond that part is obscured by the cliffs, but the exposed section at mile 0.67 is seen coming out of the heavily-shadowed area in middle left. The trail near the base of the cliffs is in the middle of the photograph, and the final steps to the beach at mile 0.74 is seen just right of the middle. Flat Rock is at the end of the point immediately to the right.

The steps at the bottom of the Broken Hill Trail show clearly in the full-resolution photograph, and the bottom loop of the Trail is visible, as well as the portion beyond it.

Highlights of This Trail

The botanical highlights of this trail are:

Plant Communities and Floristics

This section is not updated every time the guide is updated. Last update for this section: 27 February 2004. (Only the histogram in the Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail is always updated each time the guide is updated.)

This trail goes through vegetation that could be claimed by a number of plant communities as described, e.g., in Beauchamp (1986). These include:

The plants in the parentheses are the typical members of each community as given in Beauchamp that are present on this trail. You can see that these concepts of plant communities don't fit this area very well!

The older version of the San Diego County Vegetation Map from Tom Oberbauer, in Beauchamp (1986), plots this area mostly as Coniferous Forest, with a bit of Mixed Chaparral.

The Trail plant list contains 121 taxa, of which 116 have so far been identified, in 2.09 unique miles of trail. Of these 116 taxa, 18 (15%) 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 Herbs31233
Perennial Grasses505
Annual Grasses099
Annual Herbs20727

By Percent

LifeformNativeNon-nativeTotal Taxa
Perennial Herbs32%11%28%
Perennial Grasses5%0%4%
Annual Grasses0%50%8%
Annual Herbs20%39%23%

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 87 trails in my database when this histogram was made; 2 of those trails, including this one, are at Torrey Pines. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in my database; numbers of "2" or smaller may indicate taxa found only at Torrey Pines.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa138100%

I found 9 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ? or sp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entries 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 7 February 2004, are:

#allLatin NameCommon NameDistribution in Southern California / Distribution in Trail Guides
1Navarretia hamata ssp. leptanthahooked skunkweedSCo, ChI. This is the only trail in my database for this subspecies; I have three occurrences of ssp. hamata on other trails.
1Lycium californicumCalifornia box-thornCoastal bluffs, coastal-sage scrub; < 150 m. s SCo, ChI; Baja CA.
1Amblyopappus pusilluscoast weedCoastal dunes, beaches, headlands; < 50 m. SCo, ChI; Baja CA.
1Opuntia oricolatall coast prickly pearSCo, ChI, WTR, w PR; Baja CA.
1Selaginella cinerascensashy spike-mossUncommon. < 300 m. s SCo (San Diego County); Baja CA.
1Chorizanthe staticoidesTurkish ruggingSW (except e PR); common. Some call the plants here ssp. chrysacantha, which is RARE.
1Chorizanthe polygonoides var. longispinalong-spined spineflowerPR; n Baja CA.
2Pinus torreyanaTorrey pineRARE. Only found here and on Santa Rosa Island.
2Quercus dumosacoast scrub oakRARE. SCo; Baja CA.
2Opuntia Xoccidentaliswestern prickly pearSCo, w edge PR.
2Cardionema ramosissimumsandmatSandy beaches and hills, dunes, bluffs; < 150 m. SCo to WA, Mex, also in Chile.
2Ferocactus viridescensSan Diego barrel cactusUNCOMMON. SCo (San Diego County); Baja CA.
2Chaenactis glabriuscula var. orcuttianaOrcutt's yellow pincushionCoastal dunes, bluffs; < 100 m. SCo; nw Baja CA.
2Opuntia proliferacoast chollaOcean bluffs, inland coastal scrub; < 300 m. SCo, ChI; Baja CA, Guadalupe Island.
2Abronia umbellata ssp. umbellatapink sand verbenaSCo; Baja CA.
2Camissonia cheiranthifolia ssp. suffruticosashrubby beach-primroseSCo; Baja CA.
2Atriplex californicaCalifornia saltbushSandy soils, coastal dunes, shrubland, salt marshes; < 50 m. SCo, ChI; Baja CA; elsewhere.
2Matthiola incana*stockSandy areas, beaches, ocean bluffs; < 100 m. SCo; Mex.
2Dichondra occidentaliswestern dichondraUNCOMMON. SCo, s ChI; Baja CA.
2Delphinium parryi ssp. maritimumblue larkspurcoastal chaparral; 0-300 m. SCo, ChI; n Baja CA. I have five occurrences of ssp. parryi on other trails.
3Astragalus trichopodus var. lonchuscoast locoweedCoastal bluffs, fields; < 300 m. SCo, n ChI; Baja CA. Found here and at Cabrillo National Monument.
3Ceanothus verrucosuswartystem ceanothusRARE in CA. s SCO (San Diego County); n Baja CA. Found here and at Cabrillo National Monument.
3Cneoridium dumosumbushrues SCo, San Clemente Island; Baja CA. Found here and at Cabrillo National Monument.
3Coreopsis maritimasea dahliaRARE in CA. s SCo (San Diego County); Baja CA. Found here and at San Elijo Lagoon.

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"

On 7/9/02, only the Beach Trail portion of the loop was covered.

The winter of 2001-2002 was a severe drought year, which is undoubtedly at least partly responsible for the low number of taxa recorded in summer 2002.

I thank James Dillane for help with the 11/29/03 fieldwork; in particular, finding specimens of Rhamnus crocea, Lepidium sp., Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia, Salvia clevelandii and Selaginella cinerascens; the identifications of Lycium californicum and Opuntia prolifera for plants without flowers or fruit; and noting several interesting features of the trail such as the concretions and woodrat's nests.

I thank Jane Strong for help with the 2/5/04 fieldwork, for helping to find and identify new species on the trail, and Michael Charters for finding the Palmer's grapplinghook, Harpagonella palmeri, on 4/11/04.

Botanical Trip Reports

5 February 2004
18 February 2004
5 January 2005

The Plant Guide

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

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Start of trail at bathrooms at parking lot; elevation ~345 feet (105 m). Sign: "Razor Point 0.6 mile; Flat Rock 0.8 mile; Mussel Rock 1.2 mile"
0.00l1 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum+30 / 346
0.00l2 chamiseAdenostoma fasciculatum99 / 935
0.00l3 (baby) coyote bushBaccharis pilularis+20 / 923
0.00l4~coast locoweedAstragalus trichopodus var. lonchus20 / 53
0.00b5 *rabbits-foot grassPolypogon monspeliensis5 / 115
0.00l6 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens99 / 944
0.00l7 *rattail fescueVulpia myuros var. myuros / 11
0.00l8 *purple false-bromeBrachypodium distachyon / 5
0.00l9 *Australian brass-buttonsCotula australis10 / 114
0.00r10 Torrey pinePinus torreyana10 / 92
0.00 11 horseweedConyza canadensis / 27
0.01   End sidewalk on side of bathrooms
0.01l12 bicolored everlastingGnaphalium bicolor3 / 327
0.01l13 lemonade berryRhus integrifolia99 / 912
0.01l14 broom baccharisBaccharis sarothroides50 / 97
0.01l  (adult) coyote bushBaccharis pilularis /  
0.01r15 *scarlet pimpernelAnagallis arvensis99 / 922
0.01r16 saltgrassDistichlis spicata20 / 514
0.01r17 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 948
0.01r18 popcorn flowerCryptantha intermedia99 / 922
0.01b19 everlasting nest-strawStylocline gnaphaloides50 / 57
0.01r  Check if the baby Gnaphalium here turns out to be different from G. bicolor.
0.01r20 *tocaloteCentaurea melitensis50 / 541
0.01r21 hooked skunkweedNavarretia hamata ssp. leptantha99 / 91
0.01b22 slender tarweedHemizonia fasciculata99 / 911
0.01l23 coast scrub oakQuercus dumosa99 / 92
0.01l24 giant needlegrassAchnatherum coronatum20 / 921
0.01b25 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum50 / 950
0.01l26 black sageSalvia mellifera30 / 937
0.01r27 deerweedLotus scoparius var. scoparius30 / 922
0.02r28 wartystem ceanothusCeanothus verrucosus50 / 93
0.02b29 foothill needlegrassNassella lepida99 / 918
0.02l30 climbing bedstrawGalium nuttallii ssp. nuttallii10 / 928
0.02l31~wild celeryApiastrum angustifolium / 10
0.02l32 California sagebrushArtemisia californica30 / 942
0.02l33 bushrueCneoridium dumosum99 / 93
0.02l34ssppurple snapdragonAntirrhinum nuttallianum ssp. nuttallianum / 12
0.02b35 lanceleaf dudleyaDudleya lanceolata99 / 919
0.02r  (San Diego barrel cactus, Ferocactus viridescens, sometimes visible)
0.03r  Jct. other entrance to trail; continue forward
0.03r  First large coast scrub oak, Quercus dumosa.
0.03l  (Check for woolly marbles in the season wet area here.)
0.03b36 thick-leaved yerba santaEriodictyon crassifolium var. crassifolium50 / 76
0.04r37 saw-toothed goldenbushHazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides20 / 932
0.04r38 bush monkeyflowerMimulus aurantiacus5 / 339
0.04l  Sign: "Foot traffic only"
0.04l39 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia+30 / 950
0.04l40 coast prickly-pearOpuntia littoralis5 / 57
0.04r41~western prickly-pearOpuntia occidentalis5 / 52
0.05   Trail turns right 90°.
0.05l  Check for Gnaphalium canescens here and 5 other places on trail, seen in 2002 but not in 2004.
0.05l42 wild-cucumberMarah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus10 / 940
0.05 43~south coast branching phaceliaPhacelia ramosissima var. austrolitoralis / 3
0.07l44 sandmatCardionema ramosissimum40 / 92
0.07r45 rush-roseHelianthemum scoparium50 / 910
0.08l46spsuncupCamissonia sp.+ /  
0.08r47 *Mediterranean schismusSchismus barbatus / 15
0.08r48 San Diego wreathplantStephanomeria diegensis+50 / 918
0.09l49 narrowleaf bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium10 / 941
0.09l  Sign: "Area closed for plant rehabilitation".
0.09r  Jct. Razor Point Trail; stay left
0.09l50 canchalaguaCentaurium venustum1 / 15
0.09b51 *slender wild oatsAvena barbata / 25
0.09l52 six-weeks fescueVulpia octoflora var. octoflora5 / 12
0.09l  Check for new species like small annual everlasting
0.09l53 seashore bentgrassAgrostis pallens99 / 95
0.11r54 chaparral bush mallowMalacothamnus fasciculatus1 / 113
0.11   Trail turns 90 degrees to left
0.11b55 Parish's purple nightshadeSolanum parishii20 / 916
0.11l56 mission manzanitaXylococcus bicolor50 / 912
0.11r57 yellow mariposa lilyCalochortus weedii var. weedii20 / 97
0.13l58 triangular-fruit sedgeCarex triquetra / 13
0.13r  (A toyon ~20 feet high and ~40 feet wide)
0.13r  A mission manzanita "tree", Xylococcus bicolor.
0.14   Trail turns 90 degrees to right; the skunk odor of hooked skunkweed, Navarretia hamata ssp. leptantha, is strong here.
0.15r  First good specimen of western prickly pear, Opuntia Xoccidentalis.
0.15r  (Mohave yucca, Yucca schidigera)
0.16r  southern suncupCamissonia bistorta+ / 10
0.16r59 southern Indian pinkSilene laciniata ssp. major / 15
0.17l  Jct. sandy area that looks like the beginning of a trail, but which is not.
0.17r  Another trail comes in at 300 degrees.
0.17r60 bristly bird's beakCordylanthus rigidus ssp. setigerus20 / 925
0.18r  (shiny lomatium, Lomatium lucidum)
0.18l61 small-flowered soap plantChlorogalum parviflorum40 / 95
0.18l62 southern honeysuckleLonicera subspicata var. denudata2 / 238
0.19l63 *smooth cat's earHypochaeris glabra / 27
0.19r  Jct. connector trail to Razor Point Trail on right; go left; Sign: "Red Butte [to right]", "Razor Point 1/4 mile [to right]; Beach Trail 1/2 mile to Flat Rock [to left]"
0.19l64 three spotOsmadenia tenella / 7
0.19l65 coastal goldenbushIsocoma menziesii+30 / 913
0.19l  San Diego wreathplant (glandular form)Stephanomeria diegensis+ /  
0.20r66 San Diego morning-gloryCalystegia macrostegia ssp. tenuifolia3 / 317
0.20r67 ladies fingersDudleya edulis99 / 97
0.20 68spdifferent suncupCamissonia sp. /  
0.21   Begin S-shaped switchback
0.22l69 chaparral yuccaYucca whipplei3 / 327
 l70 *nit grassGastridium ventricosum / 19
0.23   End S-shaped switchback. Plants have now become very flattened due to winds off the ocean.
0.24r71 California four o'clockMirabilis californica20 / 918
0.24r  (Check for different species like Lomatium dasycarpum)
0.24r72 western dichondraDichondra occidentalis99 / 92
0.25r  (Check for box-thorn, Lycium californicum.)
0.25r73spclarkia?Clarkia sp.? /  
0.25l  (sea dahlia, Coreopsis maritima)
0.25   Switchback right.
0.27   Six steps, then switchback left.
0.27l  (coast Indian paintbrush, Castilleja affinis ssp. affinis)
0.28b74 splendid mariposa lilyCalochortus splendens / 11
0.28r75 blue dicksDichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum / 40
0.28r76 silver puffsUropappus lindleyi / 19
0.29r77 *Crete weedHedypnois cretica / 16
0.30l78 bladderpodIsomeris arborea10 / 97
0.30b79 toyonHeteromeles arbutifolia40 / 942
0.31l80~California chicoryRafinesquia californica / 19
0.31b81 sea dahliaCoreopsis maritima50 / 94
0.31l82 common bedstrawGalium aparine10 / 136
0.32r83 coast Indian paintbrushCastilleja affinis ssp. affinis10 / 53
0.32l84spannual phaceliaPhacelia sp. /  
0.32l  First location of San Diego barrel cactus, Ferocactus viridescens, in 2002; gone in 2004.
0.32r85 California poppyEschscholzia californica30 / 324
0.32r86 California enceliaEncelia californica20 / 512
0.32r  Definite wild celery, Apiastrum angustifolium, here.
0.32   Bench without back
 l87 Palmer's grapplinghookHarpagonella palmeri / 1
0.33   90 degree curve to right
0.34r88 San Diego barrel cactusFerocactus viridescens30 / 92
0.34r89 *creeping Australian saltbushAtriplex semibaccata20 / 910
0.35r90spsow thistleSonchus oleraceus? /  
0.35r91 *Russian thistleSalsola tragus20 / 325
0.36r92 *narrowleaf filagoFilago gallica / 40
0.36r93 blue-eyed grassSisyrinchium bellum30 / 218
0.36r94 warty spurgeEuphorbia spathulata / 4
0.37   Switchback left.
0.37r95 *crystalline ice plantMesembryanthemum crystallinum20 / 95
0.44b96 nodding needlegrassNassella cernua30 / 511
0.44r  Jct. Yucca Point / Razor Point Trail; continue straight ahead
0.44r  Bench without back
0.45   16 steps down, then 90 degrees right, then one more step.
0.47   Small S-shaped switchback to left
0.48l97 California box-thornLycium californicum50 / 91
0.50l  View of sandstone arch down drainage.
0.51r98 California dodderCuscuta californica var. californica2 / 214
0.51   Switchback left; cross 8 wood plank bridge over drainage
0.53   17 steps down plus step over waterbar just past the end.
0.54r99 Orcutt's yellow pincushionChaenactis glabriuscula var. orcuttiana30 / 52
0.54r100 coast chollaOpuntia prolifera30 / 93
0.55b101 California groundselSenecio californicus20 / 22
0.56l102 *prickly sow thistleSonchus asper ssp. asper2 / 119
0.58l103 virgin's bowerClematis pauciflora1 / 19
0.59l104 pink sand verbenaAbronia umbellata ssp. umbellata30 / 92
0.59l105 Robinson's pepper-grassLepidium virginicum var. robinsonii10 / 25
0.59   Wood plank bridge over drainage
0.62l106 giant wild-ryeLeymus condensatus5 / 228
0.62r107 San Diego birdsfoot lotusLotus hamatus20 / 115
0.62r108 shrubby beach-primroseCamissonia cheiranthifolia ssp. suffruticosa30 / 92
0.63r109 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides20 / 220
0.64r110 *soft chessBromus hordeaceus / 36
0.65   Jct. Broken Hill Trail (the stairs going up ahead); go right down wooden staircase and enter sandstone cliffs
0.65b111 sea-cliff buckwheatEriogonum parvifolium20 / 34
0.65l112 California saltbushAtriplex californica10 / 32
0.66l113 *common groundselSenecio vulgaris10 / 113
0.66   Trail turns left 90°
0.67   Trail is now exposed for the short remaining way - watch your footing!
0.74   Beach Trail ends at wooden staircase to beach, elevation 0 feet (0 m); go back up trail to the Broken Hill Trail.
0.83r  Jct. Broken Hill Trail at top of lower wooden staircase; go right and take it.
0.83l114spfiesta flowerPholistoma sp. /  
0.83r115 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus10 / 144
0.83b  (California polypody, Polypodium californicum)
    Check for iceplant, Carpobrotus sp.; check later on trail for occurrence of polypody on trail.
0.83   Go up 15 step staircase
0.83r116 coast weedAmblyopappus pusillus10 / 11
0.84l  Field of coast cholla, Opuntia prolifera.
0.85l117 *California burcloverMedicago polymorpha20 / 137
0.88   12 step staircase with a 90° left turn.
0.88r118 *stockMatthiola incana1 / 12
0.89   (tall coast prickly-pear, Opuntia oricola, dead ahead on ridgetop.)
0.89   11 step staircase of railroad ties.
0.89l119 *foxtail barleyHordeum murinum ssp. glaucum+ / 9
0.92r  Bench without a back.
0.95r120?small-flowered melica?Melica imperfecta?1 / 1 
0.96l121 fuchsia-flowered gooseberryRibes speciosum1 / 16
0.97 122 tall coast prickly-pearOpuntia oricola5 / 22
0.97r123 graceful bedstrawGalium porrigens var. porrigens1 / 13
1.00   Curve left, then switchback right.
1.01   Switchback left.
1.02   S-curve
1.02r124~eucryptaEucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia2 / 122
1.04   Switchback right.
1.06   Switchback left.
1.09   Switchback right.
1.10b  Acres of lemonade berry, Rhus integrifolia.
1.11   Switchback left.
1.11r  Bench without a back.
1.12   Switchback right.
1.13l125~California filagoFilago californica / 14
1.15   Switchback left.
1.17r126 silverback fernPentagramma triangularis ssp. viscosa10 / 24
1.17r127 ashy spike-mossSelaginella cinerascens10 / 51
1.17r  (Mohave yucca, Yucca schidigera)
1.17b128 coast jepsoniaJepsonia parryi10 / 215
1.17r129 pygmy-weedCrassula connata50 / 314
1.17r130sppurple sanicle?Sanicula bipinnatifida?+10 / 1 
1.17r131 shooting starDodecatheon clevelandii ssp. clevelandii5 / 110
 r  (California everlasting, Gnaphalium californicum)
1.18r  Sign: "Stay on Trail CCR46011(d)" at jct. with an illegal shortcut trail.
1.19r132~narrow-leaved miner's lettuceClaytonia parviflora ssp. parviflora5 / 115
1.20   Switchback right.
1.20l133~*annual veldt grassEhrharta longiflora+30 / 22
1.20   Another sign at other end of illegal shortcut trail.
1.22   Switchback left.
1.26   Enter field of old chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum, plants that are only 3-5 foot high. These plants have leaves only 2-3 mm long, and have been called var. obtusifolium.
1.29   Turn right 90°.
1.32r  (Mohave yucca, Yucca schidigera)
1.33r134 shiny lomatiumLomatium lucidum10 / 46
1.34l135 leafy daisyErigeron foliosus var. foliosus3 / 134
1.35r  Rock concretions on top of the sandstone, a remnant from Ice Age Torrey Pines.
1.36   Plants getting larger now, away from the strong sea breeze
1.37b136?unk young plant - white star-lily?Zigadenus fremontii?10 / 1 
1.39   Four 90° turns in trail.
1.40   Y-jct; go left on "North Fork".
1.41r137 laurel sumacMalosma laurina1 / 138
1.42   Trail turns right 90°
1.42l138 Turkish ruggingChorizanthe staticoides10 / 21
1.43   Trail turns left 90°
1.45b139 redberryRhamnus crocea5 / 515
1.45r140 San Diego mountain mahoganyCercocarpus minutiflorus10 / 410
1.46   Trail turns left 90°
1.47   Trail turns right 90° enter a small patch that hasn't been burned for a long time, containing 10 foot mission manzanita trees, Xylococcus bicolor, 12 foot San Diego mountain mahogany trees, Cercocarpus minutiflorus, 10 foot chamise trees, Adenostoma fasciculatum, 7 foot saw-toothed goldenbush, Hazardia squarrosa var. grindelioides, and very old woodrat's nests.
1.48r  A "skyscraper" woodrat's nest.
1.51r  Oak moss lichen, Evernia prunastri, is the interesting foliose (leaf-like) lichen growing on the shrubs.
1.52   Climb six spaced-out steps
1.53r141?unk baby annual with lvs like small beeplant
1.54   Enter another forest of 3-6 foot tall chamise, Adenostoma fasciculatum.
1.57   Rock concretions  now on trail
1.60l142 Mohave yuccaYucca schidigera2 / 16
1.63   Cross an old road with another old road intersecting it, with zillions of concretions.
1.64r  Check for vernal pool Plagiobothrys.
1.72r  The line of trees marks the edge of the golf course.
1.73   Cross an old road / drainage.
1.73r143 long-spined spineflowerChorizanthe polygonoides var. longispina10 / 11
1.75   Cross another old road / drainage.
1.78   T-Jct. with "Hiking and Biking Roadway", old US101, elevation 370 feet (113 m); go left on it.
1.78r144 western ragweedAmbrosia psilostachya10 / 332
1.79r145 telegraph weedHeterotheca grandiflora20 / 331
1.84l146 woolly Indian paintbrushCastilleja foliolosa3 / 14
1.90r  Jct. road (to maintenance shed?)
1.97l  (Del Mar manzanita, Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia)
2.07l  Jct. road to parking lot / trailhead; take it; nice smell here is from the next species.
2.08l147 Cleveland sageSalvia clevelandii3 / 14
2.09l  Trailhead; end guide.

Comments On Specific Species

Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum. This California buckwheat is 8 feet tall, growing up and over a chamise. Note that people using Beauchamp's key would call this var. fasciculatum, from the leaves that are ~glabrous above, whereas in the JM classification used here, it is var. foliolosum, due to the puberulent involucre and outer perianth. Indeed, the Reserve plant list gives this as var. fasciculatum. See Comments on the Jepson Manual and A Flora of Southern California by Munz.

Baccharis pilularis and B. sarothroides. These two species seem to be completely intermingled on this trail, without evidence of hybridization, with specimens from each species often found side by side, as at mile 0.00-0.01 and mile 1.39.

Lessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia. The Jepson Manual combined two taxa that are found at Torrey Pines, Corethrogyne filaginifolia varieties linifolia and virgata. The editors at the Jepson Online Interchange have restored the Corethrogyne treatment, but have still dispensed with the varieties.

Because the var. linifolia is strikingly different from the usual var. seen in Southern California, var. virgata, I attempted to note which of the varieties is found on this trail. However, when I attempted to use the key in Munz to key a plant to variety, it turned out to have characteristics of both varieties. Perhaps this is why the Jepson Manual dispensed with the varieties!

Camissonia bistorta. The first Camissonia sp. may also be this id, so this occurrence is not counted as a new taxon unless the first one turns out to be a different species.

Stephanomeria diegensis. All of the Stephanomeria plants on this trail are this species, which has a much wider range for several characteristics than given in the JM. In particular, there are two major forms. A non-glandular form is found near the trailhead, both in the beginning 0.18 mile of the trail and the ending 0.31 mile (mile 1.78 to 2.09), which are adjacent areas since this is a loop trail. A glandular form is found beginning at mile 0.19 and extending to nearly the bottom of the Beach Trail. See Stephanomeria diegensis.

Hordeum murinum ssp. glaucum. These specimens very clearly key out to this subspecies in Munz, with 6.7 (set of 3) spikelets per cm of rachis, and the lemma awn is distinctly less than the lateral awns. However, the central spikelet (8.2 mm long) is also significantly less than the lateral spikelets (12.6 mm long), which would be ssp. leporinum in the Jepson Manual. However, note the Jepson Manual illustration also shows this same relationship, in contradiction to the Jepson Manual key.

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.

Sanicula bipinnatifida?. The plants in early 2004 appeared to have the leaves of this taxon, but had yellow flowers, unlike the purple flowers I've seen elsewhere in Southern California. However, this taxon can have yellow flowers, so the identification just needs a reconfirmation from the leaves.

Ehrharta longiflora. Eradication of this noxious weed is being attempted, so the plants may be dying from herbicide treatment, or, better, gone from this location in the future.

Concretions. The "pebbles" on the ground here, called "ball-bearings" by hikers who slip on them on the trail, are concretions in the sandstone. These concretions formed in the top of the Linda Vista Formation relatively recently, long after the Formation was laid down. The concretions probably were made in the wet periods of the ice ages from the usual soil-forming processes. They formed in place in groundwater when some nucleus in the sandstone, perhaps a small shell or root node, attracted iron ions. The Ice Age groundwater was made acidic from the Torrey Pines leaf litter, which aids the migration of ions. The iron ions then precipitated to cement the concretion.

So in some sense, these concretions are reminders from the much more extensive Torrey Pine population which lived during one of the past Ice Ages.

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Copyright © 2002-2005 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 9 January 2005.