List of California native plants

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Native wildflower blazing star (Mentzelia lindleyi)
Gentiana algida in Sierra Nevada.

California native plants are plants that existed in California prior to the arrival of European explorers and colonists in the late 18th century.[1] California includes parts of at least three phytochoria. The largest is the California Floristic Province, a geographical area that covers most of California, portions of neighboring Oregon, Nevada, and Baja California, and is regarded as a "world hotspot" of biodiversity.[2][3]


In 1993 The Jepson Manual estimated that California was home to 4,693 native species and 1,169 native subspecies or varieties, including 1,416 endemic species. A 2001 study by the California Native Plant Society estimated 6,300 native plants. These estimates continue to change over time.[2]

Of California's total plant population, 2,153 species, subspecies, and varieties are endemic and native to California alone, according to the 1993 Jepson Manual study.[4] This botanical diversity stems not only from the size of the state, but also its diverse topographies, climates, and soils (e.g. serpentine outcrops). Numerous plant groupings exist in California, and botanists work to structure them into identifiable ecoregions, plant communities, vegetation types, and habitats, and taxonomies.[4][5]

California native plants include some that have widespread horticultural use. Sometimes the appreciation began outside of California—lupines, California fuchsias, and California poppies were first cultivated in British and European gardens for over a century.[6]

Selected trees

Coniferous trees

Sequoias and redwoods

Pine trees

Pinus ponderosa, Kings Canyon National Park

Other conifers

Oak trees

Valley oak near Mount Diablo.
California is home to many deciduous and evergreen oaks, often occurring in oak woodlands:

Riparian trees

Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in Lee Vining Canyon
In riparian areas (streamside and moist habitats) some of the trees include:

Other trees and tree-like shrubs

Selected shrubs

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)

Selected desert plants

A Joshua tree in Joshua Tree National Park.
Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)

Selected perennials

Eriogonum fasciculatum (California buckwheat)

Sunny habitats

Shady habitats


Selected bulbs

Brodiaea coronaria (California hyacinth)

Selected annuals and wildflowers

Selected vines

Aristolochia californica (Dutchman's pipe)

Selected grasses


Selected succulents

Coast dudleya (Dudleya caespitosa)

Environmental challenges

Some California native plants are in rapid decline in their native habitat due to urban sprawl, agriculture, overgrazing, recreational impacts, pollution, and invasive non-native species (invasive exotics) colonization pressures (animals and other kingdoms of life, as well as plants).[16]

California also has 1,023 species of non-native plants, some now problematic invasive species such as yellow starthistle, that were introduced during the Spanish colonization, the California Gold Rush, and subsequent immigrations and import trading of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

See also


  1. ^ "What is a native plant?". California Native Plant Society. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  2. ^ a b Ornduff, Robert; Faber, Phyllis M.; Keeler-Wolf, Todd (2003). Introduction to California Plant Life. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23704-9. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "California Floristic Province". Biodiversity Hotspots. Conservation International. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  4. ^ a b Hickman, J.C., ed. (1993). "Appendix I". The Jepson Manual, Higher Plants of California. University of California Press. p. 1315. 
  5. ^ Munz, Philip Alexander; Keck, David Daniels (1 June 1973). A California Flora. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-02405-2. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Bornstein, Carol; Fross, David; O'Brien, Bart (1 December 2005). California native plants for the garden. Cachuma Press. ISBN 978-0-9628505-8-5. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Pavlik, Bruce M.; Muick, Pamela; Johnson, Sharon (1993). Oaks of California. Cachuma Press. ISBN 978-0962850516. 
  8. ^ Jepson Manual Quercus agrifolia
  9. ^ Jepson Manual Salix lasiolepsis
  10. ^ Keator, Glenn (1 March 1994). Complete Garden Guide to the Native Shrubs of California. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-0402-8. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  11. ^ Fross, David; Wilken, Dieter (1 February 2006). Ceanothus. Timber Press. ISBN 978-0-88192-762-7. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Keator, Glenn (1990). Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-87701-699-1. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants". 
  14. ^ "California Native Grasslands Association". Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Crampton, Beecher (1974). Grasses in California. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-02507-3. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  16. ^ Alden, Peter; Heath, Fred (26 May 1998). Field Guide to California. Knopf. National Audubon Society. ISBN 978-0-679-44678-1. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 

Further reading

Books: flora

  • A California Flora and Supplement, Philip A. Munz and David D. Keck, UC Press
  • Grasses in California, Beecher Crampton, UC Press
  • The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California, James C. Hickman (Editor), UC Press
  • The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California, Bruce Baldwin (Editor), UC Press
  • Oaks of California, Bruce M. Pavlik, Pamela Muick, Sharon Johnson, Cachuma Press
  • Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey, Linda Beidleman, Eugene Kozloff, UC Press

Books: gardening/landscaping

  • Landscape Plants for California Gardens, Bob Perry, Land Design Publishing
  • California Native Plants for the Garden, Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien, Cachuma Press
  • California Native Trees and Shrubs, Lee W. Lenz, Rancho Santa Ana
  • Ceanothus, David Fross and Dieter Wilken, Timber Press
  • Complete Guide to Native Perennials of California, Glenn Keator, Chronicle Books
  • Complete Guide to Native Shrubs of California, Glenn Keator, Chronicle Books
  • Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens, Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook, UC Press
  • Growing California Native Plants, Marjorie Schmidt, UC Press
  • Native Landscaping From El Paso to L.A., Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski, McGraw-Hill
  • Native Plants for California Gardens, Lee W. Lenz, Day Printing Corp.
  • Native Treasures: Gardening with the Plants of California, M. Nevin Smith, UC Press

External links

  • CNPS—California Native Plant Society website
  • CalFlora Database — extensive searchable database of California native plants.
  • Jepson Manual 'Flora Interchange' — extensive database of California native plants
  • U.C. CalPhotos: Flora homepage — searchable images database
  • Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants — including horticultural information
  • California Native Grasslands Association — including bunchgrass species and habitats
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