Crystal Cove’s Valentine Bouquet

California Bush Sunflower

Looking for a unique way to spend this Valentine’s Day weekend with a loved one? If chocolate, teddy bears, and bouquets of roses just aren’t your style, why not take your Valentine to come see nature’s bouquet right here at Crystal Cove State Park!

Fiesta Flower

Here in Southern California, wildflower blooms are just beginning when Valentine’s Day rolls around. The first storms of winter have soaked the soils, and sunny days can trigger annual wildflowers to emerge. After a long summer and fall of dry conditions, winter and spring are truly the months that Crystal Cove comes alive. As you wander along the backcountry or blufftop trails, don’t forget to stop and admire the sights and smells of Crystal Cove’s unique floral arrangement.

One of the first blooms to catch your eye anywhere in the park will likely be the bright sunny faces of the California bush sunflower. This yellow flower in the daisy family can often bloom year-round in Crystal Cove, thanks to the moist sea air, but flowers are most abundant from February through June. Stop and smell the center of the flower and enjoy the surprising scent of chocolate covered raspberries!

If you venture up the Moro Canyon trail, the sprawling Fiesta flowers create vibrant splashes of purple along shady hillsides. This annual plant begins to grow after the winter rains begin, and little purple bell-shaped flowers will pop up throughout the spring. With enough rainfall, these flowers can create a solid carpet of purple right by the trail.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without roses, so keep your eyes peeled for the California wild rose!  This native shrub prefers the wettest areas of the park and are most often found right along the creek in Moro Canyon. Their pale pink flowers have a sweet smell and are a favorite of bees. They most often bloom later in the spring, but with this year’s early rain, you may get lucky and spot the first roses of the year!

 

California Wild Rose

Flowers can be spotted anywhere in Crystal Cove, but the Moro Canyon trail is often the first to show signs of spring. You can find a map of hiking trails here.  If you come to see the display with your Valentine, please remember to leave the flowers in their place, so future visitors can also enjoy nature’s bouquet. If you’d like an expert to help you identify the many blooms and more, you can also join a Crystal Cove State Park naturalist on a family nature hike of February 16th or 22nd!  For details and other events in the park, visit crystalcove.org/events.

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