By ,
Former Content Marketing Manager

I’M NOT SHOUTING!

This is just how I talk this time of year when the WILDFLOWER SEASON IS UPON US! Ok, maybe I am shouting a little. Sorry, I’m just really excited.

I get this way around the spring bloom and spontaneously start shouting with excitement. And for good reason — it’s that time of year again to hit the trails (you gotta try our Wildflower Guide) in search of nature’s picturesque botanical arrangements.

Wildflower guide - POST
Get our guide to wildflower walks here.

People get feverish about California’s wildflower season every year, clamoring for the chance to witness our open spaces at the peak of their abundance.

What’s funny though is that despite my enthusiasm and diehard intentions of becoming a top-tier nature nerd, I still can’t seem to remember the names of all but a few of California’s wildflowers. The wannabe plant geek in me just can’t seem to get it, even after the superblooms of the past few years and ample opportunities to refine this part of my naturalistic repertoire.

So, I’m sticking to the fundamentals. If you’re like me and struggle to remember plant names (as well as where you put your car keys, wallet and phone), then I suggest you do the same. Below, you’ll find 10 of the most common of northern California wildflowers, some fun facts about their natural history and where to find them in our local open spaces. These are the plants I’m committed to remembering — the wildflowers that we’re most likely to see on the trail.

Here we go:

California wildflower in bloom - POST

1. Douglas iris

Iris douglasiana

In bloom: February – June

A great place to find them: Coal Creek Open Space Preserve

Fun fact: Despite the tremendous labor involved, the Indigenous communities in California used this plant’s strong petals to weave fishing nets and rope. They also used (and some still use) the dried roots as a diuretic.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

2. Sky Lupine

Lupinus nanus

In bloom: March – May

A great place to find them: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

Fun fact: Look for their soft grey-green leaves which are coated in silvery hairs. They are one of the most abundant flowers in our local grasslands.

Find more information at Calflora. 

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

3. Sticky monkey flower

Diplacus aurantiacus

In bloom: March – May

A great place to find them: Rancho Corral de Tierra

Fun fact: An important host for the larvae of the variable checker-spot butterfly, this plant’s heavy resin helps retain water in dry environments.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

4. Indian paintbrush

Castilleja affinis

In bloom: March – May

A great place to find them: Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Fun fact: This plant can produce its own food, but if malnourished, it will feed off the roots of nearby plants. It blooms in spring and often holds its color throughout the summer.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

5. Tidy Tips

Layia platyglossa

In bloom: March – July

A great place to find them: Calero County Park

Fun fact: Often used in native grassland restoration efforts to help attract local pollinators, this plant’s seeds are also a good food source for birds.

Find more information at Calflora. 

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

6. Redwood sorrel

Oxalis oregana

In bloom: February – July

A great place to find them: Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve

Fun fact:These plants are well adapted to life in the shade; when direct sunlight strikes the leaves, they fold toward the ground and, when the shade returns, the leaves reopen.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

7. Miner’s lettuce

Claytonia perfoliata

In bloom: February – May

A great place to find them: Thornewood Open Space Preserve

Fun fact: True to its name, this plant was a valued food source for Gold Rush-era miners when food supplies were scarce. The taste is similar to spinach but please don’t harvest plants from public land.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

8. Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

In bloom: April – August

A great place to find them: Pearson-Arastradero Preserve

Fun fact: Several nesting birds, including the common starling, use yarrow to line their nests as its oils repel pesky insects like mites and mosquitos.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers in bloom - POST

9. California Fuchsia

Epilobium canum

In bloom: August – October

A great place to find them: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

Fun fact: A favorite among hummingbirds, this flower blooms in the fall before the bird’s winter migration, a unique trait among wildflowers.

Find more information at Calflora.

 

California wildflowers, poppies - POST

10. California poppies

Eschscholzia californica 

In bloom: February – September

A great place to find them: Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve

Fun facts: We can’t forget the state flower of California, which can be seen in brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. And don’t forget to celebrate California Poppy Day on April 6.

Find more information at Calflora.

                                 

 

Get access to our Wildflower Guide:

 

Can't see the form? Please click here for a simplified version.

About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 80,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

Scroll to top