Trip Recap

Lucas Canyon, San Mateo Cyn. Wildernes
Botanical Survey

This trip was a botanical survey, not a traditional field trip. Our intention was to survey a portion of the canyon and document the species present. Little or no interpretation was provided and the trip was research based. The flora are listed at the end of this report.

This report may also be viewed and downloaded as a PDF on the Native Plant portion of this site.

Survey Date: 2014-04-27 (also 2014-04-24, 2013-11-10, 2013-03-21, and 2011-01-31)

Observers: Ron Vanderhoff, KevinDavey, Kris Larson, Sherri Sisson and Susan Tringle

Start Time: 07:10 AM         Stop Time: 17:50

Weather: Light rain overnight. AM cloudy, cool, wet, +/- 60f, calm. PM clearing to clear, moderate +/- 68f, light wind.

Elevation: 994 ft. to 2047 ft.

Trip Miles: 10.1 by foot

Ascent: 1834 ft.   Descent: 1834 ft.


On April 27, 2014 Ron Vanderhoff, KevinDavey, Kris Larson, Sherri Sisson andSusan Tringle botanically surveyed the central portion of Lucas Canyon, San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, Cleveland National Forest. Susan Tringle only visited the Western portion of the canyon, and then returned home. Portions of the survey were in Orange and Riverside Counties.

Additionally, Ron Vanderhoff surveyed the Eastern third of the canyon three days prior, on April 24, 2014 and has also visited portions of the canyon on January 31, 2011, March 21, 2013 and November 10, 2013.

Access to the canyon on April 27, 2014 was via the private Rancho Carrillo Road (with permission), then via an unnamed trail that descended into the Western portion of Aliso Canyon and then into Lucas Canyon. Once in the canyon much of the trip was on the restored Lucas Canyon Trail, although several forays were taken into the streambed and other off trail areas.

Because of the relative isolation of the canyon and the difficulty of access, it is not often visited or studied botanically, although many areas of the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness share this distinction.

Lucas Canyon is a primarily East-West oriented canyon with rugged, moderate to steep canyon sides. It has a moderate to large drainage, relative to other canyons in the Southern Santa Ana Mountains. Boulder outcrops are common in the lower and upper portions of the canyon and occasional in the central portion. The canyon bottom is mostly boulder strewn with occasional areas of sand and several areas of worn bedrock. Water flows seasonally in the creek and pools are persists during most summers in occasional tenajas.

The slopes of the canyon are predominantly dense and well-developed Southern mixed chaparral, especially on the Southern (North facing) slope of the canyon. The Northern (South facing) slope of the canyon is a blend of Southern mixed chaparral, chamise chaparral and coastal sage scrub. The canyon bottom comprises moderately to well developed wooded riparian vegetation. Canopies are created by mesic trees. Deeper soils scattered about the canyon bottom support small forests of oaks.

The canyon has historically supported various small mining operations from the mid 1800’s through the early 1900’s, with reports of Placer gold being the most notable, but also including tin and copper. A few homesteads were established in the central portion of the canyon, but the last of these were destroyed in a 1950’s forest fire. Mining artifacts and evidence of prior habitation are still present in the canyon. Exotic plants from these homesteads still persist today.

All taxa, whether native, introduced or invasive were attempted to be recorded, although several were likely missed. Plants of significance were recorded with photographs, coordinates or a voucher sample, often with all of these. Vouchers will be deposited with The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden herbarium. As reference, Vascular Plants of The San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area, Cleveland National Forest, California (Boyd et al, Aliso 14(2), pp. 109-139) was used.




206 taxa, representing 206 species were recorded. 185 (81%) are considered native and naturally occurring and 40 (19%) are considered either planted, escaped or not native at this site.

Three previously un-reported taxa were added to the flora of the canyon and the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness: Clinapodium chandleri, Oxalis pes-caprae and Pinus sp.

See the "Plants Seen" tab for our complete suvey results.