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List of California native plants facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Native wildflower blazing star (Mentzelia lindleyi)
Gentiana algida arctic gentians
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. 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.


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.

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. 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.

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.

Selected trees

Coniferous trees

Sequoias and redwoods

Pine trees

Pinus ponderosa KingsCanyon1
Pinus ponderosa, Kings Canyon National Park

Other conifers

Oak trees

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

Riparian trees

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

Selected shrubs

Fremontodendron californicum
Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)

Selected desert plants

Joshua Tree NP - Joshua Tree 2
A Joshua tree in Joshua Tree National Park.
Larrea tridentata Anza-Borrego
Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)
See also (related category): Flora of the California desert regions

Selected perennials

California Buckwheat (4776487540)
Eriogonum fasciculatum (California buckwheat)

Sunny habitats

Shady habitats


Selected bulbs

Brodiaea coronaria (California hyacinth)
  • Ithuriel's spear (Triteleia spp.)
  • Meadow onion (Allium monticola)
  • Goldenstars (Bloomeria crocea)
  • Brodiaeas (Brodiaea spp.)
  • Blue dicks-ookow (Dichelostemma capitatum): one of the most common native bulb species throughout California; found in grassland and dry meadow habitats
  • Mariposa lilies (Calochortus spp.): available from reputable horticultural sources; taking from the wild is illegal and is resulting in significant declines of some species from over collecting.

Selected annuals and wildflowers

Selected vines

Aristolochia californica flower 2004-02-23
Aristolochia californica (Dutchman's pipe)

Selected grasses

  • Sedges — (Carex spp.) (taller 'bunch grass' specimens and lower meadow spreaders)
  • Rushes — (Juncus spp.)
  • Western blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and yellow-eyed-grass (Sisyrinchium californicum).

Selected succulents

Dudleya caespitosa 5
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).

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.

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