Malibu princess

Take a hike to worship the diva of wildflowers

For the giant coreopsis, only the coast will do. With a taste in real estate that a Hollywood legend could appreciate, this member of the sunflower family grows naturally only in coastal areas from Malibu to the Central Coast, as well as on the Channel Islands. And as plants go, it's a bit of a drama queen, veering from hottie to has-been depending on the season. See it during the summer, and the stringy brown remains of the plant's leaves hang forlornly from its limbs. The coreopsis looks irrevocably dead. An ex-plant.

But with winter rains, the giant coreopsis springs back to life, filling out with succulent, rubbery leaves. Rejuvenated, it blossoms with brilliant, daisylike flowers whose yellow jumps out against coastal slopes and canyon walls. A good spot to pay homage is La Jolla Canyon in Point Mugu State Park, 5 miles west of the Ventura County Line. Here, a short walk will leave little doubt that the giant coreopsis is ready for its close-up.

Wander a mile up La Jolla Canyon to see the fleeting sunshine blooms of the giant coreopsis.

INFO: On the La Jolla Canyon Trail ($4 parking fee; Point Mugu State Park, 9000 W. Pacific Coast Hwy., 22 miles west of Malibu Canyon Rd.; 805/488-1827), the best stands of coreopsis can be seen about 1 mile in from the trailhead.

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