Eight Native California Wildflowers to Look for This Spring

It’s been a wet, rainy winter here in Southern California, and as we look towards the warmer days ahead, nature-lovers are wondering — does that mean there’s another superbloom in store? 

The short answer is: it’s too soon to tell. While rain can help usher in the dramatic floral displays that blanket our hillsides in orange, purple, and gold, other factors — like the timing of storms and spring temperatures — also come into play. 

But between the moist soil and the large number of seeds left behind from last year’s bloom, odds are 2024 will be a great year for wildflowers. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

1. Arroyo Lupine

Photo by Adam Thomas

This prolific annual features vibrant whorls of blue-purple blooms that serve as a snack for pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. Tolerant of many soils, it’s great at repopulating disturbed habitats.

2. California Poppy

Photo by Adam Thomas

Selected as the golden state’s official flower in 1890, the iconic poppy is known for its bright orange-yellow petals that perch atop solitary stems with waxy blue-green leaves. The delicate flowers fold shut at nighttime, and reopen in the morning sun.

3. Tidy Tips 

Photo by Adam Thomas

While these sunny yellow stunners appear as a single flower, they’re actually a composite of multiple flowers, with petal-like ray florets that surround a cluster of tinier blooms in the center. 

4. Bush Sunflowers 

Photo by James Kellogg

Featuring abundant daisy-like yellow flowers, this fast-growing perennial needs little water and thrives in a wide variety of soil types. Catch it blooming before summer, when it loses its leaves, leaving behind a seedy feast for local birds. 

5. Blue-eyed Grass

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Blue-eyed grass isn’t actually grass…it’s a perennial herb that’s related to the iris. You’ll note the similarity in its long, slender leaves, and its delicate blossoms that range from blue to purple to white. 

6. Woolly Bluecurls

Photo by Adam Thomas

This small evergreen shrub, which is a member of the mint family, features pointy, fragrant leaves and clusters of deep purple-blue fuzzy flowers that lend it its name. As a fire follower, it thrives in burn scars.

7. California Goldfields

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

These cheerful, quarter-sized blooms crop up all over the hillsides and meadows of California in the springtime, dusting them with gold. Indigenous peoples ground their seeds to make pinole, or seed stew. 

8. Sticky Monkeyflower 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A small shrub with deep green, sticky leaves and tubular flowers that range in color from pale yellow, orange, to rusty red, these are an important food source for caterpillars of the common buckeye butterfly.

Places to spot spring wildflowers in SoCal:

But remember, Please always view wildflowers responsibly from designated trails! Preventing damage to these plants and the soil that surrounds them assures that the flowers can recharge the seed bank and sprout again next spring – allowing humans and the local fauna to enjoy them for years to come.

Or, if you don’t want to drive to see flowers, consider creating your own superbloom!

By planting these flowers yourself, you can transform your own backyard into a colorful floral oasis!

Pick up one of TreePeople’s Native Garden Kits to jumpstart your yard makeover, and check out our native plant guide for tips on how to grow these flowers along with all kinds of other local foliage.