54 Wildflowers in California (Pictures and Identification)

Wildflowers live in high numbers across California. Both native and invasive species are found throughout the state.

Coastal areas as well as desert areas of the South are home to numerous wildflowers in the state.

These species are in bloom in different seasons. The vast habitats of the state might mean the same species blooms faster at sea level and later in the season at high elevations.

Some of the native species of California are also well-documented for their historic role either as food or used in traditional medicine by natives.

The coastal area between San Francisco and San Diego represents the area where many species are found.

Chaparral is California’s ideal habitat for a high number of species.

The following wildflowers have stable distribution and may even be expanding across the state Southwards towards Baja California.

1. California Poppy

California Poppy

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a perennial plant that grows to a maximum of 60 inches. This is a species that opens its petals in sunny weather and closes them at night.

Yellow and orange flowers are specific to this species. These flowers have open petals almost through the summer.

Furthermore, they are also used for cooking according to traditional recipes.

California Poppy exhibits invasive traits outside its native areas, including in introduced areas of California.

Where to find them – Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Season – spring and summer

2. California Buckwheat

California Buckwheat

This type of native plant (Eriogonum fasciculatum) is a type of small shrub, often spotted as hedgerows across the state. Its globular white and pink flowers make it an attractive species to consider in gardening.

Full privacy is possible when the plant is used as a hedgerow as it may reach a maximum height of over 8 feet.

The species is an important nectar source for local honey bees. This is also a species that feeds important butterfly species such as The Monarch Butterfly.

Where to find them – Southern California Coast Ranges

Season – spring to fall

3. Toyon


Sometimes referred to as The California Berry, this (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a species that lives in mixed woodlands.

Full sun and partial shade growing spots are preferred by this species which grows red berries.

Rapid growth rates are specific to Toyon. In its native range, it can expand up to 10 feet within a few years and eventually reach a height of up to 30 feet.

Where to find them – all coast ranges

Season – Summer

4. Coyote Brush

Coyote Brush

Sometimes known as California Bay or Coastal Live Oak based on its habitat in the state, Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis) is a common species that grows at low elevations.

This flowering bush may reach a maximum height of just over 9 feet.

Its small flowers may recommend it for cultivation but provide the nectar for local species of Skipper butterflies.

This species may be used as a natural privacy fence as it survives the attempts of deer and because it may still survive even in extreme drought.

Where to find them – coastal California

Season – mid-summer to fall

5. Blue Dicks

Blue Dicks

This type of perennial herb (Dipterostemon capitatus) is common all around the state, but particularly in its Southern range.

It’s a type of perennial herb with a columnar shape and a pink, violet, or dark purple coloring.

Blue Dicks are among the first species to flower into the spring, around the state. It can be found in different open areas as well as in disturbed areas with a tendency to spread quickly.

These flowers are also some of the most resilient to cold temperatures in California.

Where to find them – all around San Francisco

Season – winter to spring

6. Blue Elder

Blue Elder

Blue Elder (Sambucus cerulea) is one of the tallest types of shrubs in the state. It grows to a maximum height of around 30 feet.

You can find Blue Elder in different areas of the state, around water sources, or on hills or mountain slopes. This is a species with white to yellow flowers.

Each flower comes with a seed that has high toxicity. It should not be eaten by humans as it may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or disorientation.

Where to find them – mid to high elevation in the state

Season – mid-summer to fall

7. Brittlebush


The name of the species is inspired by the brittle stems of this short species with yellow flowers.

Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) grows multiple yellow or yellow to green flowers and it’s known as a natural resin-producing plant.

Traditionally, this species is only seen in deserts but it has been cultivated for its resin which is used to make glue and gum

Where to find them – throughout The Colorado Desert

Season – winter to spring

8. Common Yarrow

Common Yarrow

With a maximum height of up to 40 inches, Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is present all across the state, except the Colorado Desert.

White, pink, and red flowers are specific to this species. Its white flowers at the top of the stems are more common.

This species is found at all elevations and it is a species generally seen as toxic. It may cause skin irritation.

Where to find them – all across California

Season – April to October

9. Orange Bush Monkeyflower

Orange Bush Monkeyflower

Orange Bush Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus) comes in different colors. This is a flowering plant that is mostly seen with red flowers, although white and orange flowers may also be spotted within the species.

This type of wildflower may grow to 4 feet in excellent conditions.

Most locals know it as one of the wildflowers with sticky leaves. Spread around the state, this is a species that shows adaptability to all types of properly drained soils.

Where to find them – Northern to Southern California

Season – spring to summer

10. Creosote Bush

Creosote Bush

This species (Larrea tridentata) lives in some of the most water-deprived areas of the states. It grows to a maximum height of 10 feet but many are shorter, measuring an average of 5-6 feet.

The species has white and yellow flowers seen in the summer.

Unlike many other wildflowers in the state, Creosote Bushes are known for their long lifespan with an expected life of up to a century.

This busy is also highly fragrant, its fragrance often being compared to the fresh smell of rain.

Where to find them – Southern and Southeastern California habitats

Season – mostly spring, but it blooms throughout the year

11. Western Blue-eyed Grass

Western Blue-eyed Grass

This type of perennial plant (Sisyrinchium bellum) comes in white to purple coloring. It lives across the state, at different altitudes and even at an elevation of up to a few thousand feet.

A perennial that grows up to 24 inches, this type of flower tends to form monocultures. It tends to overcrowd other local species. This has led to its grass name.

Where to find them – redwood forests in Northern California

Season – January to June

12. Deerweed


Coastal areas of the state are among the typical habitats of Deerweed (Acmispon glaber). The species is deciduous and it’s only seen blooming in the spring, up to April.

Small yellow flowers that turn red are specific to Deerweed. This is one of the wildflowers that are also food for local species.

Butterfly caterpillars are among the most common species that use Deerweed as a host. The species thrives in disturbed lands of the state up to medium elevation.

Where to find them – chaparral across the state

Season – Spring

13. Wild Radish

Wild Radish

This annual species (Raphanus sativus) is found across various grasslands. It may also be spotted growing on disturbed lands of the state.

It has an invasive status across the states as Wild Radish has a Mediterranean origin.

Wild Radish acts invasively, often overgrowing an area and creating habitats of low ecological diversity.

Wild Radish should be removed from gardens as it poses a mild toxicity risk to pets and animals. The wildflower has long pea-like fruits.

Where to find them – common along The Great Basin

Season – spring bloom

14. Chaparral Yucca

Chaparral Yucca

This type of tree-like wildflower (Hesperoyucca whipplei) is one of the oldest documented species in California. It features rapid growth, reaching a height of up to a few feet within its first years.

This long-living plant may look like a tree, but it’s a type of chaparral wildflower that grows in the national parks of the state. This species was eaten by native Americans due to its high fiber content.

Where to find them – San Gabriel Mountains

Season – April to May

15. Black Sage

Black Sage

This type of sage-family plant (Salvia mellifera) has a rare nature, being mostly confined to very dry areas such as Southern California.

The plant grows small white to purple flowers and it is sometimes used to make a special type of honey when it starts to produce high amounts of nectar, typically after heavy rain.

Found in chaparral areas on the coast, this plant may reach a size of over 6 feet at its maximum height.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – spring to mid-summer

16. Bermuda Buttercup

Bermuda Buttercup

This type of plant (Oxalis pes-caprae) has large yellow flowers formed from 5 petals.

Identified as of African origin, Bermuda Buttercup is an invasive species across the state as it may be difficult to remove.

It spreads quickly and it relies on bulbs growing in the ground. Cutting it means it sprouts back from bulbs. This species always dries under the high heat of California but it grows back as soon as it rains.

Where to find them – Coastal California

Season – late fall to summer

17. Chamise


Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) is the most widespread species in California’s chaparral regions. It extends from the Northern borders to San Diego also being the most common species in North America’s chaparral regions.

The specie grows to a height of a few feet, also expanding a few feet and flowering at the end of April. It has small white flowers with a reduced fragrance.

Exposed soil and even very dry soil represent conditions where this plant can grow.

Where to find them – chaparral ecoregion

Season – April to June

18. Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel

An invasive species in California, Scarlet Pimpernel (Lysimachia arvensis) is a species native to Europe and regions of Northern Africa. This is a species known to have blue to purple flowers.

Spotting this wildflower indicates the area has light soil or even clay soil.

A bitter taste is specific to the species which means animals and birds stay away from it.

Where to find them – coastal areas

Season – March to September

19. Lemonade Berry

Lemonade Berry

This type of plant (Rhus integrifolia) is a type of shrub specific to coastal areas, chaparral, and exposed areas around the state.

It produces small berries which serve as food for various species of birds and animals.

Lemonade Berry may reach a tall height of up to 30 feet and a width of up to 20 feet at its maximum growth point.

Where to find them – around San Diego

Season – August to October

20. California Brittlebush

California Brittlebush

California Brittlebush (Encelia californica) is one of the most abundant fragrant wildflowers in the state. It grows in various regions from the Northern border to Baja California.

This species may grow to a height between 3 and 6 feet and it may stretch out to 7 feet sideways.

Multiple small yellow flowers are specific to this dark green species.

Where to find them – Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Season – Winter to spring

21. Redstem Stork’s-Bill

Redstem Stork’s-Bill

Redstem Stork’s-Bill (Erodium cicutarium) is a plant with pink to red flowers. These plants are known to be entirely edible but they are rare in the United States.

The species is mostly found in deserts of the Southwestern US, including California.

Redstem Stork’s-Bill is a plant that multiplies itself through seeds. Its seeds need to fall into the soil and get moisture for sprouting.

Where to find them – around San Diego

Season – July to February

22. Fennel


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is one of the most common wildflowers in California and around the world. This plant has been introduced in Europe but it has established itself across various habitats in the state.

Fennels have green leaves similar to feathers and small yellow flowers.

While an introduced species, Fennel has established itself along California’s coastline. The plant is traditionally used in cooking or to repel bugs and insects.

Where to find them – Santa Cruz Island

Season – Winter to spring

23. Beavertail Pricklypear

Beavertail Pricklypear

Regions of The Colorado Desert are home to the Beavertail Pricklypear cacti (Opuntia basilaris). This is a species that only grows in the deserts of California, mainly to a maximum size of 15 inches.

This species is also flowering. Multiple pink flowers are seen on these types of cacti.

Once grown, these cacti can count tens or hundreds of different size pads.

Where to find them – The Colorado Desert

Season – Spring to summer

24. Golden Yarrow

Golden Yarrow

Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) is a common type of aster species. It can be found at various altitudes across the state from the mountains in the North to Baja California in the South.

The species can be distinguished from other yellow flower asters by the short white hairs covering its leaves.

This species is known to be resilient. It grows to a maximum height of 20 inches and it has small yellow flowers which serve as a source of nectar for local insects.

Where to find them – Sierra Nevada

Season – Spring to summer

25. Sacred Datura

Sacred Datura

This type of wildflower (Datura wrightii) can grow to a height of up to a few feet. It generally measures just a few inches, as it grows close to the soil.

Large white flowers are specific to the species. The perennial plant has bright flowers contrasted by pointy dark green leaves.

The Sacred Datura wildflower should not be consumed as it has a hallucinogenic effect.

Where to find them – In deserts

Season – April to October

26. Wavy-leafed Soap Plant

Wavy-leafed Soap Plant

This type of wildflower (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) has white and purple flowers and long fiber-rich leaves.

The bright Wavy-leafed Soap Plant flowers are closed in the early morning and open as temperatures rise.

It may be known as The Wild Potato plant, but it doesn’t resemble potatoes or potato plants.

Wavy-leafed Soap Plants are mainly used in traditional medicine as an antiseptic. It may also be processed to make commercial-grade glue.

Where to find them – all around the state

Season – Spring to summer

27. Milkmaids


This species (Cardamine californica) is found in the Southern coastal parts of the state. It grows rapidly but it remains a small species with large white flowers.

Perennial Milkmaids are plant species known for their chaparral preference.

The species shows its flowering potential up until May but it may only be found in small numbers across its range as it requires pollinators to spread/

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – Winter to spring

28. Mule Fat

Mule Fat

Mule Fat (Baccharis salicifolia) is also known as Water-wally as it mostly grows in areas next to water. Coastal areas as well as habitats close to streams and rivers are ideal for this species.

Mule Fat wildflowers have multiple fuzzy-looking flowers with plenty of nectar consumed by various insects. Long green leaves with vertically-orientated veins are also specific to this plant.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – Throughout the year

29. Shortpod Mustard

Shortpod Mustard

A species that grows close to the ground, Shortpod Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana) is invasive in California.

It can be found all around the state, particularly around Southern coastal areas.

This species has small yellow flowers and toothed-like green leaves. It spreads quickly, often overcrowding local species.

Where to find them – Coastal areas

Season – Summer

30. Tree Tobacco

Tree Tobacco

This (Nicotiana glauca) is one of the tallest shrubs or trees with an invasive status in the state.

A common sight along public roads, the species grows around some of the largest cities in the state.

Reaching a height of up to a few feet, Tree Tobacco has distinct tubular yellow flowers. The species is difficult and costly to remove.

This plant is used to make traditional cigarettes.

Where to find them – Around Los Angeles

Season – Spring to summer

31. California Fuchsia

California Fuchsia

This perennial herb (Epilobium canum) is one of the native species found all around the state, particularly in its Southen region.

A semi-deciduous plant, California Fuchsia is a species that has long and red trumpet-like flowers.

This is a species that may grow to 1.5 feet and which may survive more than a year with sufficient humidity.

Where to find them – Los Angeles

Season – Wintertime

32. California Beeplant

California Beeplant

This type of evergreen species (Scrophularia californica) is native to California and the enter US West Coast.

The plant has distinct small and round red flowers and it can be known to spread out as a shrub. It can grow to a size of up to 4 feet and expand sideways to a length of up to 12 feet.

Lifespan typically expands to a few years. Its colored flowers and high adaptability further recommend the species as a garden decorative plant.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – Winter to spring

33. Pacific Hound’s Tongue

Pacific Hound’s Tongue

This species (Adelinia grande) is one of the most common hosts for caterpillars of various butterflies and moths.

It doesn’t require too much watering and it might be one of the resilient wildflowers to adopt into a garden as well.

It has multiple blue to purple flowers which aren’t always located at the top of the plant due to its very long upward-facing leaves.

Where to find them – San Luis Obispo

Season – February to March

34. Seep Monkeyflower

Seep Monkeyflower

This small species (Erythranthe guttata) is native to all elevations in California. It can be found in the state’s common chaparral habitats at different altitudes.

Large yellow flowers are specific to Steep Monkeyflowers.

The flowering period depends on temperature and altitude. Its yellow flowers bloom in the spring at sea level and in the summer at mid to high elevation.

This plant may also be eaten as it has been used in old traditional recipes instead of lettuce. Hummingbirds eat the flower as well.

Where to find them – In chaparral

Season – Spring to summer

35. Coastal Goldenbush

Coastal Goldenbush

Coastal Goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii) is among the species with a high presence in coastal areas but its habitat is limited to areas between San Francisco and San Diego.

Most Coastal Goldenbush wildflowers are found in the extreme South of the state.

This is a species that blooms from winter to summer and that tends to extend rapidly. While not very tall, Coastal Goldenbush extends up to 5 feet.

Where to find them – San Diego

Season – Winter to summer

36. Hairy Vetch

Hairy Vetch

Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) is one of the common species of wildflowers with purple coloring in Southern California.

It has a numerous presence around the San Francisco Bay area but this plant is introduced to crops as well.

Hairy Vetch is one of the soil-fixing species planted in the winter. It helps fixate nitrogen and soil fertility across multiple types of crops.

The species has limited benefits outside the state where it can even show invasive behavior.

Where to find them – Monte Bello Open Space Preserve.

Season – Wintertime

37. Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus

Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus

This type of hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) is rather short, only growing to a height of a few inches.

It shows a preference for well-drained soils and it may survive indoors or outdoors in gardens if not over-watered.

Large flowers are specific to the species. Its flowers have a pink, dark pink, or pink to purple color.,

Where to find them – Great Basin

Season – April to May

38. Wishbone Bush

Wishbone Bush

Wishbone Bush (Mirabilis laevis) is one of the short wildflowers in the Southeastern parts of California.

This species can spread similarly to shrubs and it may reach an expansion of up to 8 feet. It may be used as a decorative plant to mark property limits, as a result.

Small purple colors that resemble blooming lavender are specific to the species. These flowers may fall, together with some leaves.

Where to find them – San Diego Bay

Season – Winter to spring

39. Western Columbine

Western Columbine

Western Columbine wildflowers (Aquilegia formosa) are native to North America. This is a species with distinct rust-red flowers that often grow downwards.

Various species feed on these flowers and their nectar. Butterflies are among the common species attracted to Western Columbine, but not other larger wild animals.

The species may survive up to 2 years, but it lives less than other plants in the state.

Where to find them – Southern parts of the state

Season – Spring to Summer

40. Common Fiddleneck

Common Fiddleneck

The Common Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) is one of the most resilient wintertime species in the state. It grows to a short height and it blooms tiny yellow flowers.

Highly common along roads and in coastal areas, this is a species that’s rather short-lived and not a perennial species.

Its shape which resembles a fiddle is what inspires its name.

Where to find them – Coastal areas

Season – Winter to spring

41. Ithuriel’s Spear

Ithuriel’s Spear

This species (Triteleia laxa) is one of the edible wildflowers of the state.

It can be found in a wide habitat at different altitudes. Common-looking violet flowers are specific to this species.

Its colorful flowers recommend the species in gardening where it survives for multiple years.

The species may prefer well-drained soils in gardens and it may not bloom as many flowers if over-watered.

Where to find them – Redding to San Francisco

Season – Spring to summer

42. California Cudweed

California Cudweed

California Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium californicum) is one of the long-bloom species of the state.

Multiple tiny white, cream, or yellow flowers are seen on the species each year. These are resistant flowers that are often used as dry flower décor for various local events.

The species is also rich in nectar, being one of the preferred plants of different North American butterflies.

American Lady Butterflies are among the species which use the plant for its nectar all along The California Coast.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – Winter to summer

43. Miniature Lupine

Miniature Lupine

Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor) is one of the smallest lupines in California. This species may grow to a maximum height between 1.5 and 3 inches.

Extremely tolerable to drought, this is a lupine often cultivated in low-maintenance gardens.

Miniature Lupines also have blue to purple flowers which are rich in nectar and may serve as a food source for insects such as bees.

Where to find them – Santa Barbara

Season – Spring to summer

44. Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) is one of the worldwide species with a high presence in California.

This biennial plant is highly poisonous, as its name suggests. Both its stems and its flowers are poisonous to humans and the plant should be removed from the properties it grows on.

This is a species that generally grows up to 20 inches but it may even be as tall as a short tree if left alone to grow in well-drained soils.

The species can be found in marshes, ditches, along the coast, and even in urban areas.

Where to find them – Los Angeles to San Bernardino

Season – July to August

45. Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

This type of thistle (Silybum marianum) lives 1 to 2 years.

It has a distinct purple globular-shaped flower. It grows to a size of a few inches with a maximum height of around 80 inches.

The thistle is native to Europe where it’s studied for its potential benefits in medicine.

Milk Thistle is one of the important species for caterpillars that absorb toxins but the species may show some mild adverse reactions to people who eat it.

Where to find them – California pastures

Season – Summertime

46. Warrior’s Plume

Warrior’s Plume

This perennial herb (Pedicularis densiflora) has a distinct vibrant color. It has pink stems and leaves which are sometimes closer to purple.

It tends to stand out among other species which recommends it in well-drained gardens as an ornamental plant.

The species is short but it may grow to a height of up to 2 feet. This species is also food for various species of butterfly caterpillars.

Where to find them – San Francisco to San Jose

Season – Winter to spring

47. Pink Honeysuckle

Pink Honeysuckle

Pink Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) is found all around the state, down to its Southwestern borders.

The plant grows as a shrub in most habitats. However, it may start to act as a vine whenever it has something to grab onto.

In gardens, Pink Honeysuckle is grown as a climbing species. It can be a low-maintenance wildflower as it has no major pests.

Purple to blue flowers is specific to the species.

Where to find them – Coastal areas

Season – Spring to summer

48. Pacific Trillium

Pacific Trillium

The Pacific Trillium plant (Trillium ovatum) is a species that spreads through rhizomes. It can be found in different areas of the states.

The species has white and yellow flowers but these flowers can darken to a purple nuance towards the end of the season.

While it grows in different types of habitats in woodlands or around woodlands, Pacific Trillium is identified as a species that grows next to redwood.

The tendency to grow under some of the tallest trees of the state also means Pacific Trillium may also be planted in partial shade in gardens.

Where to find them – Central California

Season – Spring to Winter

49. Telegraphweed


This is a type of weed (Heterotheca grandiflora) common across different types of habitats. The species grows to an a maximum height between 20 and 40 inches.

Known for their tiny leaves, Telegraphweeds are also known for their tiny yellow flowers.

These flowers bloom throughout the year. The weeds growing on top of mountains bloom later in the season.

A high preference for growing on disturbed land is also noted for the species. It may show an invasive status on crops.

You can also plant the species in gardens. However, you should not water it once planted in the garden.

Where to find them – mountainous regions

Season – Throughout the year

50. California Wild Rose

California Wild Rose

This small species (Rosa californica) is known for its slightly pink nuance. Its large petal leaves are seen in full bloom in the fall.

California Wild Rose is a sepcies adapated to chaparral.

It may also grow in gardens where it can be used as an edible plant.

California Wild Rose is a species that may be dried and used to make tea. The species is also one of the common foods for animals from fall to winter.

Where to find them – Along the coast

Season – May to November

51. Bladderpod


Bladderpod wildflowers (Cleomella arborea) are common in the Southern desert parts of California.

It grows on flat desert canyons where its seeds provide a food source for local animals.

Various species of digging bees as well as butterflies are interested in the nectar of the species.

Checkered White Butterflies are among the multiple species feeding on this plant in their range between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Bladderpod flowers are numerous and yellow. They aren’t edible, unlike their seeds.

Highly fragrant, these flowers can be seen in the winter, summer, spring, and fall seasons alike.

Where to find them – Deserts

Season – All year            

52. Purple Owl’s-Clover

Purple Owl’s-Clover

This purple-colored wildflower (Castilleja exserta) is found in the Southern regions of the state.

It represents one of the oldest species of flowers in the state, being one of the common foods of natives here.

The species also provide food for some of the rarest species in North America. For example, The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly relies on the species around San Francisco.

Uncommon in gardens, this type of wildflower typically grows to a height between 10 and 18 inches.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – March to May

53. Greater Periwinkle

Greater Periwinkle

Great Periwinkle (Vinca major) isn’t as uncommon as it used to be in the state. It grows next to streams and rivers which means it can now spread rapidly.

This is a species with a potential invasive role as it disrupts local wildflowers and grasses growing in riparian areas.

Greater Periwinkle is identified by its blue to purple flowers.

First introduced as a medicinal plant in the state and the country, Greater Periwinkle is now a potentially invasive species outside of The Central Valley/

Where to find them – Garrapata State Park

Season – Spring to summer

54. Pacific Pea

Pacific Pea

White to pink flowers are specific to Pacific Pea wildflowers (Lathyrus vestitus).

This is a species with a sporadic presence in the state. It can mainly be found in Southern California.

With an evergreen profile, Pacific Pea grows to a maximum height of just a few feet.

It can also be one of the ideal plants that don’t need watering in gardens due to its multiple flowers which bloom in clusters.

Up to 15 flowers grow together in clusters.

The plant is also one of the most important food sources for species such as Orange Sulphur Butterflies.

Where to find them – San Francisco Bay

Season – Winter to spring