Earth Science

Go crazy about California wildflowers

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Field of poppies
The California poppy, which resembles a happy face turned toward the sun, grows best in sandy, dry soil with access to full light. The California poppy is one of the most widely recognized wildflowers in California
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California is home to an amazing array of wildflowers.

With its deserts, foothills, meadows, mountains and forests, California is the perfect host to wildflowers of all kinds. Here is a closer look at a few of the common wildflowers found in California.

Bush Lupine

A member of the bean family, the Bush Lupine is one of the most common California wildflowers and is found in the foothills. With blue to red-purple flowers and a white spot on the corolla's upper petal, the Bush Lupine grows in open spots in forests and meadows.  It flowers for most of the spring, allowing flower lovers several weeks of viewing enjoyment.

California Monkey Flower

Named for their faces, which resemble monkeys, the California monkey flower grows best in sheltered, moist areas where there is ample sunlight. Two of the many species of the monkey flower are the San Diego Sunrise Monkey Flower, which has red flowers that fade to yellow as the flower ages, and the Rock Monkey Flower, a pale yellow version that grows in and around rocks and crevices. The Monkey Flower is amongst the most diverse of the California wildflowers.

California Poppy

Native to open and grassy areas, the California poppy ranges in color from yellow to orange and flowers between February and September. The flowers are solitary and have four petals each.

Giant Wake Robin

Also known as the Trillium chlorpetalum, the Giant Wake Robin is found in the coastal redwood region of Northern California, usually on wooded, shady slopes. With its deep red flowers and green leaves grouped in threes, the Giant Wake Robin is one of the most unique of the California wildflowers.

Globe Lily/Fairy Lantern

Fragile and beautiful, Globe lilies grow in the shade of the forest. Their petals are overlapping and long and hang toward the ground, protecting their pollen from wind and rain. The flower originated on the coast of California and spread into dozens of species, which are widely found in the Southern part of the state.

Spotted Coral Root

A beautiful and unique flower, the spotted coral root is a member of the Orchid family. Tiny and rare, this flower is hard to spot. Located in the California foothills, the Spotted Coral Root has no leaves and its flower is the only part of the plant that appears above the ground.

Yellow Star Tulip

A member of the Lily family, the yellow star tulip is noted for its hairy petals and its large glandular "pit" located at the bottom of the stem, which provides nectar for insects. This flower often grows alongside bluish Bush Lupines and is found in the foothills of California.


Native to California as well as dry, hot climates such as Central America and the West Indies, Yucca is notable for its large rosettes of evergreen, strong, thick leaves and big clusters of white flowers. Yuccas are pollinated by the Yucca moth, giving it a very particular method of pollination. Although one of the most widely found California wildflowers, the Yucca is the state flower of New Mexico.

For those who enjoy wildflowers, the diversity of California and its many natural settings make it a great place to visit and California wildflowers amongst the most abundant and beautiful in the country.

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