Explore the beauty of Common California Native Plants, from majestic redwoods to delicate wildflowers and their attractive characteristics.
Nestled among the breathtaking landscapes of California are a wealth of native plants that have adapted to the unique climate and ecology of the region. From the towering redwoods to the delicate wildflowers that dot the hillsides, these plants not only add to the natural beauty of the state but also play important roles in supporting local ecosystems. Here are the most Common California Native Plants and their fascinating characteristics.
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Common California Native Plants
Botanical Name: Penstemon
These California native plants have tube-shaped flowers with a beard-like structure inside, and their leaves are lance-shaped and arranged in a rosette.
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2. Bigleaf Maple
Botanical Name: Acer macrophyllum
Bigleaf Maples are deciduous trees with large, lobed leaves that produce small, greenish-yellow flowers that give way to winged seeds in the fall.
3. Blue-Eyed Grass
Botanical Name: Sisyrinchium bellum
Blue-Eyed Grass has slender, grass-like leaves and produces clusters of small, blue, star-shaped flowers with yellow centers.
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Botanical Name: Eriogonum
Buckwheat plants have clusters of small, white to pink flowers that attract pollinators, and the leaves are usually lance-shaped and dark green.
5. Bush Anemone
Botanical Name: Carpenteria californica
Bush Anemones are low-growing shrubs that have white or pink, cup-shaped flowers with bright yellow centers and serrated, oval-shaped leaves.
6. California Bay Laurel
Botanical Name: Umbellularia californica
These California native plants have glossy, dark green leaves and produce small, yellow-green flowers that give way to oval-shaped fruit.
7. California Buckeye
Botanical Name: Aesculus californica
California Buckeyes are deciduous trees that have palmately compound leaves and produce large, showy clusters of white, pink, or red flowers in the spring.
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8. California Bush Flower
Botanical Name: Encelia californica
The California Bush Flower is a low-growing shrub that has bright pink, trumpet-shaped flowers and glossy, dark green leaves.
9. California Currant
Botanical Name: Ribes malvaceum
These California native plants have lobed leaves and produce clusters of pinkish-red flowers that give way to small, red berries.
10. California Fuchsia
Botanical Name: Epilobium canum
California Fuchsia plants have tubular, bright pink or red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and the leaves are small and green.
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11. California Gooseberry
Botanical Name: Ribes californicum
California Gooseberry is a deciduous shrub that has prickly stems and produces small, bell-shaped, pinkish-white flowers that give way to edible berries.
12. California Lilac
Botanical Name: Ceanothus
The California Lilac evergreen shrubs have fragrant blue or purple flowers that bloom in the spring with leaves that are small, pointed, and leathery.
13. California Milkweed
Botanical Name: Asclepias californica
These California native plants have green foliage and pink, orange, or yellow flowers that are attractive to butterflies and bees.
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14. California Poppy
Botanical Name: Eschscholzia californica
California Poppy is a bright and colorful flower with orange or yellow petals that blooms in the spring and summer.
15. California Sagebrush
Botanical Name: Artemisia californica
California Sagebrush is one of the most common California native plants. It is a fragrant shrub with gray-green leaves that are soft to the touch.
16. Catalina Ironwood
Botanical Name: Lyonothamnus floribundus
A slow-growing tree with dark green, glossy leaves and fragrant white flowers, typically found in the Channel Islands.
17. Chaparral Mallow
Botanical Name: Malacothamnus
A perennial shrub with pink or purple flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It grows best in well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight.
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18. Coast Live Oak
Botanical Name: Quercus agrifolia
The Coast Live Oak is a large evergreen tree with dark green leaves and acorns found in California’s coastal areas and inland valleys.
19. Coastal Prickly Pear
Botanical Name: Opuntia littoralis
A cactus with flat pads and large, showy yellow flowers that bloom in the summer, commonly found in California’s coastal areas.
Botanical Name: Rhamnus californica
These California native plants have dark green, glossy leaves and small, red berries that are attractive to birds and wildlife.
21. Common Yarrow
Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
A perennial herb with fern-like foliage and clusters of white, pink, or yellow flowers, the Common Yarrow is found in a variety of habitats throughout California.
22. Coulter’s Matilija Poppy
Botanical Name: Romneya coulteri
Coulter’s Matilija Poppy is a large perennial with silver-green foliage and huge white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.
Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia rigens
These California native plants have long, slender leaves that turn golden brown in the fall, commonly found in coastal and mountain habitats.
24. Desert Willow
Botanical Name: Chilopsis linearis
The Desert Willow is a small, deciduous tree with narrow, elongated leaves and showy pink or purple flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.
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25. Douglas Iris
Botanical Name: Iris douglasiana
The Douglas Iris is a perennial plant with long, slender leaves and showy purple or blue flowers that bloom in the spring.
26. Flannel Bush
Botanical Name: Fremontodendron
A shrub or small tree with woolly, silver-green leaves and bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers that bloom in spring.
27. Fremont Cottonwood
Botanical Name: Populus fremontii
These California native plants have gray-brown bark and triangular leaves that rustle in the slightest breeze, often found near water sources.
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28. Giant Wildrye
Botanical Name: Leymus condensatus
The Giant Wildrye is a perennial grass with tall, feathery seed heads and blue-green leaves that can reach up to 6-8 feet in height.
29. Wooly Blue Curls
Botanical Name: Trichostema lanatum
A low-growing shrub with fuzzy, gray-green leaves and showy, tubular blue or purple flowers that attract hummingbirds.
30. Hummingbird Sage
Botanical Name: Salvia spathacea
These California native plants have velvety, aromatic leaves and vibrant red or purple flowers that attract hummingbirds.
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31. Island Alum Root
Botanical Name: Heuchera maxima
The Island Alum Root is a low-growing groundcover with rosettes of glossy, toothed leaves and spikes of pale pink or white flowers in late spring.
32. Island Oak
Botanical Name: Quercus tomentella
A sturdy tree with deeply furrowed bark and glossy, lobed leaves that can withstand salty coastal winds.
33. Lemonade Berry
Botanical Name: Rhus integrifolia
The Lemonade Berry is a drought-tolerant shrub with leathery, dark green leaves and clusters of small, pinkish-white flowers followed by edible, tart berries.
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34. Live Forever
Botanical Name: Dudleya
This California native plant is a succulent with rosettes of fleshy, gray-green leaves that can survive long periods of drought and produce tall stems of star-shaped flowers.
Botanical Name: Arctostaphylos
Manzanita is a low-growing shrub or small tree with twisted, reddish-brown branches and smooth, leathery leaves that often have a reddish tinge.
36. Mountain Violet
Botanical Name: Viola purpurea
The Mountain Violet is a delicate perennial with heart-shaped leaves and deep violet or lavender flowers that bloom in early spring.
36. Pacific Dogwood
Botanical Name: Cornus nuttallii
These California native plants have showy white or pinkish flowers in spring and red berries in fall, often found in moist, shady areas.
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38. Pacific Rhododendron
Botanical Name: Rhododendron macrophyllum
The Pacific Rhododendron has leathery leaves and showy clusters of pink, purple, or white flowers in spring.
39. Pacific Wax Myrtle
Botanical Name: Myrica californica
The Pacific Wax Myrtle is a tall, slender tree with aromatic, waxy leaves and small, grayish-green berries that attract birds.
40. Point Reyes Meadowfoam
Botanical Name: Limnanthes douglasii nivea
The Point Reyes Meadowfoam is an annual wildflower with delicate, white, or pink flowers and fern-like leaves that grows in wet meadows and vernal pools.
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41. Redwood Sorrel
Botanical Name: Oxalis oregana
The Redwood Sorrel is a low-growing perennial with heart-shaped leaves and delicate, white or pink flowers that thrive in the shade of redwood forests.
Botanical Name: Salvia
A fragrant perennial herb with gray-green leaves and spikes of blue or purple flowers that attract pollinators.
43. Shrubby Monkeyflower
Botanical Name: Mimulus
The Shrubby Monkeyflower is a bushy perennial with bright yellow or orange-red trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from spring to fall.
44. Sierra Nevada Dogwood
Botanical Name: Cornus sessilis
The Sierra Nevada Dogwood is a small to medium-sized tree with smooth, gray bark and clusters of showy white or pinkish flowers in spring.
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45. Silver Cholla Cactus
Botanical Name: Opuntia echinocarpa
A spiny cactus with cylindrical, segmented stems covered in silver-gray spines and showy pink or purple flowers.
46. Silver Lupine
Botanical Name: Lupinus albifrons
The Silver Lupine is a perennial with silvery-gray leaves and tall spikes of blue, purple, or pink flowers that attract pollinators.
Botanical Name: Notholithocarpus densiflorus
These California native plants have furrowed bark and glossy, dark green leaves that turn bronze in fall. It grows best in full sun exposure.
Botanical Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia
A drought-tolerant shrub with glossy, dark green leaves, the Toyon has clusters of bright red berries that are a favorite of birds.
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49. Western Azalea
Botanical Name: Rhododendron occidentale
A deciduous shrub with fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers that range from white to pink or lavender, often found near streams or in moist soils.
50. Western Redbud
Botanical Name: Cercis occidentalis
The Western Redbud is a small to medium-sized tree with heart-shaped leaves and showy clusters of pink or purple flowers that bloom in early spring.
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51. White Alder
Botanical Name: Alnus rhombifolia
The White Alder is a large deciduous tree with smooth, grayish bark and round, toothed leaves that turn yellow in fall.
52. Wild Rose
Botanical Name: Rosa
A shrub with thorny branches and delicate, fragrant flowers that range from white to pink or red, often found in sunny, open areas.