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California Native Plants

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California Native Plants

The native plants of California have incredible diversity and beauty, my hope is that more of these beautiful plants will be included in our landscapes. It seems logical that the plants that grow here naturally should be the ones that would be the easiest to grow. So often we try to help the plants along and fail them with our kindness. Knowing where the plants come from and what conditions will make them thrive can make many of these plants easy choices for including in most any garden.

The popularity of the California's Native Plants seems to wax and wane depending upon the availability of water. Much of the garden hardiness of the xeric plants is often diminished by the excessive use of water. Due to the increasingly critical nature of this supply, our need for supplemental water for irrigation will at some point be rationed by cost. As more people move to the state, and they are every day,(typically half a million a year) and ancient groundwater and farm water resources are consumed by our landscapes (as we recently saw with Coachella Valley-Colorado River water going to San Diego) there will be an increasing pressure to use plants in our landscapes that do not need so much additional water. The occasional El Nino may allow us to forget about water limits for a season or two but we can be relatively assured that we will find ourselves, at some point, looking towards conservation of water in our landscape so that we can maintain the comfort of our lifestyle in our homes.

With 5,862 species of wild plants growing in this state and 4,839 of those species being native to California, it is a small wonder that more of them have not made it into the horticultural trade directly or in the form of hybrids. It seems ironic that many of our native plants are more popular in Europe than they are here at home. Only 8% of our plant resources are in protected areas. Much of this resource is at risk due to the rapid encroachment of our ever-expanding suburbs and agriculture. The native plants are very effective at attracting our native wildlife and may provide some limited habitat for increasingly displaced native wildlife species. Within our state there are climatic zones that range from the very wet to the extremely dry, from coastal plants to alpine. With this range of climatic zones there is a huge array of plants to chose from and something that can suit almost any need.

Because we have utilized this California native plant resource in such a small way we have little idea about the breadth of the design capacity of these plants. There are natives with large dark glossy leaves, with showy flowers, and adaptations to myriad soil types. Everything from desert effects and wildflower meadows to near tropical lushness can be achieved with this palate of plants.

It is important to know where the plants that we use in the landscape are native to, what is the soil, rainfall and exposure where these plants live. Plants collected from the Sierra's near Tahoe or along the Monterey or Carmel coastline come from a much cooler and wetter climate than the plants from the mountains of Southern California. When choosing plants for an area that recieves less than 15 inches of rainfall and often recieves weeks of temperatures above the century mark, picking a plant from the Carmel bluffs hardly makes sense. The plants think so, Ceanothus Yankee Point looks dreadful after a week of Southern California inland heat.

Many of California's wildflowers can be used in the seeded garden, Poppies, Lupines, Clarkias and many others are available in seed mixes.  Many of the woody plants are more easily propagated  from cuttings or divisions.


 

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Acer macrophyllum * Bigleaf Maple
Acer negundo californicum * California Box Elder, Boxelder
Achillea lanulosa * Mountain Yarrow
Achillea cerise queen
Achillea paprika
Achillea pomegranate
Achillea salmon beauty
Achillea terracotta
Achillea the beacon
Adenostoma fasciculatum * Chamise, Greasewood
Adiantum capillus-veneris * Maidenhair Fern
Adiantum jordanii * California Maidenhair Fern
Antirrhinum multiflorum * Sticky Snapdragon
Aquilegia formosa * Crimson Columbine
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn * Vine Hill Manzanita
Arctostaphylos Pacific Mist * Pacific Mist Manzanita
Argemone munita * Prickly Poppy
Armeria maritima * Thrift or Sea Pink
Artemisia californica * California Sagebrush
Artemisia douglasiana * Mugwort
Artemisia ludoviciana Silver King * Mugwort
Artemisia ludoviciana Valerie Finnis
Asclepias californica * California Milkweed
Asclepias cordifolia * Purple Milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa * Woolypod Milkweed
Asclepias erosa * Desert Milkweed
Asclepias fascicularis * Narrow Leafed Milkweed, Mexican Whorled Milkweed
Asclepias linaria * Butterfly Weed
Asclepias speciosa * Showy Milkweed
Aster chilensis * California Aster, Pacific Aster
Atriplex hymenelytra * Desert Holly
Bacharis pilularis * Coyote Brush
Beloperone californica * Chuparosa
Berberis nevinii * Nevin's Barberry
Bloomeria crocea * Goldenstar
Brodiaea elegans ssp elegans * Harvest Brodiaea
Calochortus albus * Fairy Lily
Calochortus catalinae * Catalina Mariposa Lily
Calochortus clavatus pallidus * Club Hair Maripos Lily
Calochortus invenustus * Mariposa Lily
Calochortus kennedyi * Desert Mariposa Lily
Calochortus leichtlinii * Mariposa Lily
Calochortus minima * Mariposa Lily
Calochortus monophyllus * Yellow Mariposa Lily
Calycanthus occidentalis * Spice Bush
Camassia quamash * Camas
Campanula rotundifolia * Harebell
Carex praegracilis * Clustered Field Sedge
Carex tumulicola * Berkeley Sedge
Carpenteria californica* California Anemone
Castilleja exserta * Purple Owls Clover
Ceanothus * California Lilac List
Ceanothus hearstiorum
Ceanothus megacarpus * Bigpod Ceanothus
Ceanothus oliganthus sorediatus * Jim Brush
Cercis occidentalis * Western Redbud
Chilopsis linearis * Desert Willow
Chrysothamnus nauseosus * Rabbit Brush
Cirsium occidentale * Cobwebby Thistle
Clarkia bottae * Clarkia deflexa * Punch Bowl Godetia, Botta's Fairy Fan
Clarkia purpurea quadrivulnera * Four Spot
Clarkia purpurea purpurea * Farewell to Spring
Clarkia unguiculata * Woodland Clarkia
Clarkia williamsonii * Fort Miller Clarkia
Clematis lasiantha * Chaparral Clematis, Pipestems
Clematis ligusticifolia * Creek Clematis, Virgin's Bower
Cleome arborea * Bladderpod
Collinsia heterophylla * Chinese Houses
Collinsia tinctoria * Sticky Chinese Houses, Tincture Plant
Coreopsis gigantea * Giant Coreopsis
Cornus nuttallii * Mountain Dogwood
Cornus sericea * Red Osier Dogwood
Datura wrightii * Sacred Thorn Apple, Jimsonweed, Devil's Trumpet
Dendromecon harfordii * Island Bush Poppy
Dendromecon rigida * Bush Poppy
Dichondra argentea * Silver Dichondra
Dodecatheon clevelandii * Padre's Shooting Star
Dodecatheon hendersonii * Mostquito Bills, Foothill Shooting Star
Dicentra chrysantha * Golden Teardrops
Dicentra formosa * Bleeding Heart
Dichelostemma capitatum * Blue Dicks
Dudleya lanceolata * Lance Leaf Live Forever
Dudleya pulverulenta * Chalk Liveforever
Echinocereus mojavensis * Mojave King Cup Cactus
Elymus condensatus Canyon Prince * Canyon Prince Giant Rye
Encelia californica * California Brittle-Bush, Coast Sunflower
Encelia farinosa * Brittlebush, Incienso
Ephedra californica * Desert Tea
Epipactis gigantea * Stream Orchid
Ericameria nauseosa * Rabbit Brush
Erigeron glaucus 'Bountiful' * Seaside Daisy
Erigeron glaucus Sea Breeze * Pink Seaside Daisy
Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' * Seaside Daisy
Eriodictyon crassifolium * Felt Leaved Yerba Santa
Eriogonum arborescens * Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat
Eriogonum cinereum * Ashyleaf Buckwheat, Coastal Buckwheat
Eriogonum crocatum * Conejo Buckwheat, Saffron Buckwheat
Eriogonum incanum * Frosted Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum * California Buckwheat
Eriogonum giganteum * St. Catherine's Lace
Eriogonum umbellatum * Sulphur Buckwheat
Eriophyllum confertiflorum * Golden Yarrow
Eriophyllum staechadifolium * Seaside Golden Yarrow, Lizard Tail
Eschscholzia caespitosa * Tufted Eschscholzia
Eschscholzia californica * California Poppy
Eschscholzia californica White Linen * White Linen California Poppy
Festuca californica * California Fescue
Fraxinus dipetala * California Ash
Fremontodendron californicum * Fremontea
Fremontodendron Ken Taylor * Flannel Bush
Fritillaria biflora * Chocolate Lily
Galium aparine * Bedstraw
Galvezia speciosa * Island Snapdragon
Garrya eliptica 'James Roof' * Coast Tassel Bush
Gnaphalium californicum * Pearly Everlasting
Helianthemum scoparium * Sunrose
Heliotropium curassavicum * Salt Heliotrope
Heteromeles arbutifolia * Toyon
Heuchera Canyon Duet * Canyon Duet Coral Bells
Heuchera 'firefly' * Firefly Coral Bells
Heuchera maxima * Island Alumroot
Heuchera micrantha diversifolia Palace Purple * Crevice Alumroot
Heuchera 'Santa Ana Cardinal'
Heucherella 'Bridget Bloom'
Hibiscus lasiocarpos (H. californicus) * Wooly Rose Mallow
Hyptis emoryi Silver Lining * Desert Lavender
Iris Dorothea's Ruby * Pacific Coast Hybrid Iris Dorothea's Ruby
Iris pacific coast hybrids * Douglas' Iris Hybrids
Ipomopsis aggregata * Scarlet Gilia
Isomeris arborea * Bladderpod
Juglans californica * California Walnut
Justicia californica * Chuparosa
Keckiella cordifolia * Bush Penstemon
Lasthenia californica * Goldfields
Lavatera assurgentiflora * Tree Mallow
Lavatera purisima * Island Mallow
Layia platyglossa * Tidy Tips
Lepechinia fragrans El Tigre * Island Pitcher Sage, Fragrant Pitcher Sage
Leptodactylon californicum * Prickley Phlox
Lilium parvum * Sierra Tiger Lily
Linum lewisii * Western Flax
Lewisia rediviva * Bitterroot
Leymus condensatus Canyon Prince * Canyon Prince Giant Rye
Lobelia cardinalis * Cardinal Flower
Lonicera subspicata denudata * Chaparral Honeysuckle
Ludwigia peploides * Water Primrose
Lupinus albifrons * Silver Bush Lupine
Lupinus bicolor * Miniature Lupine
Lupinus chamissonis * Dune Bush Lupine, Chamisso Bush Lupine
Lupinus microcarpus densiflorus * Chick Lupine
Lupinus stiversii * Harlequin Lupine
Lupinus succulentus * Succulent Lupine
Lyonothamnus floribundus * Catalina Ironwood
Mahonia nevinii * Nevin's Barberry
Malacothamnus fasciculatus * Bush Mallow
Malosma laurina * Laurel Sumac
Mentzelia laevicaulis * Blazing Star
Mimulus aurantiacus * Sticky Monkeyflower
Mimulus cardinalis * Cardinal Monkeyflower
Mimulus flemingii * Island Monkeyflower
Mimulus Georgie Red * Georgie Red Monkeyflower
Mimulus Jack * Jack Monkeyflower
Mimulus Midnight
Mimulus puniceus * Red Monkeyflower
Mimulus Ruby Silver * Ruby Silver Monkeyflower
Mirabilis californica * Wishbone Bush
Mirabilis multiflora * Colorado Four O'Clock, Showy Four O'Clock
Monardella lanceolata * Mustang Mint
Myrica californica * Pacific Wax Myrtle
Nassella pulchra * Purple Needlegrass
Nemophila menziesii * Baby Blue Eyes
Oenothera elata hookeri * Hooker's Evening Primrose
Opuntia basilaris var basilaris * Beavertail Pricklypear Cactus
Orthocarpus purpurascens * Purple Owls Clover
Oxalis oregana * Redwood Sorrel
Parkinsonia X Desert Museum * Thornless Palo Verde
Pedicularis groenlandica * Elephant's Head
Paeonia californica * California Peony
Pellaea andomedifolia * Coffee Fern
Penstemon centranthifolius * Scarlet Bugler
Penstemon grinnellii * Grinnell's Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus * Foothill Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus Margarita BOP * Margarita BOP Penstemon
Phacelia campanularia * Desert Bluebell
Phacelia cicutaria * Caterpillar Phacelia
Phacelia ciliata * Great Valley Phacelia
Phacelia grandiflora * Giant Flowered Phacelia
Pholistoma auritum * Fiesta Flower
Phyla nodiflora * Lippia
Pinus coulteri * Coulter Pine, Big Cone Pine
Pinus monophylla * Single Leaf Pinyon Pine
Platanus racemosa * Sycamore
Platystemon californicus * Cream Cups
Polypodium californicum * California Polypody
Polystichum munitum * Western Sword Fern
Populus fremontii * Fremont Cottonwood
Potentilla glandulosa * Sticky Cinquefoil
Prunella vulgaris * Heal All
Prunella vulgaris lanceolata * Heal All
Prunus andersonii * Desert Peach, Desert Almond
Prunus ilicifolia* Holly Leafed Cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii * Catalina Cherry
Quercus agrifolia * Coast Live Oak
Quercus berberidifolia * Scrub Oak
Quercus douglasii * Blue Oak
Quercus dumosa * Scrub Oak
Quercus garryana * Oregon Oak
Quercus kelloggii * California Black Oak
Quercus lobata * Valley Oak
Rhamnus californicus 'Eve Case' * Coffee Berry
Rhamnus crocea * Red Berry
Rhus integrifolia * Lemonade Berry
Rhus laurina * Laurel Sumac
Rhus ovata * Sugar Bush
Ribes aureum * Golden Currant
Ribes malvaceum * Chaparral Currant
Ribes speciosum * Fuchsia Flowered Currant
Romneya coulteri * Matilija Poppy
Rosa californica * California Wild Rose
Salvia Allen Chickering
Salvia apiana* White Sage
Salvia brandegeei * Brandegee's Sage
Salvia clevelandii * Cleveland Sage, Fragrant Sage
Salvia clevelandii Winnifred Gilman * Blue Sage
Salvia columbariae * Chia
Salvia carduacea * Thistle Sage
Salvia desperado * Desperado Sage
Salvia dorrii dorrii
Salvia leucophylla 'point sal spreader'
Salvia mellifera * Black Sage
Salvia Pozo Blue * Pozo Blue Sage
Salvia spathacea * Hummingbird Sage
Salvia terra seca * Dwarf Black Sage
Sambucus mexicana * Mexican Elderberry
Saxifraga californica * California Saxifrage
Scutellaria siphocampyloides * Greyleaf Skullcap
Sidalcea malvaeflora * Checker
Silene laciniata * Indian Pink, Cardinal Catchfly
Sisyrinchium bellum * Blue Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium californicum * Yellow Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium Rocky Point * Rocky Point Blue Eyed Grass
Smilacina racemosa * False Solomon's Seal
Solidago californica * California Goldenrod
Sphaeralcea ambigua
Sphaeralcea fulva La Luna
Stanleya pinnata * Prince's Plume
Stipa speciosa * Desert Needle Grass
Symphyotrichum chilense * California Aster, Pacific Aster
Trichostema lanatum * Wooly Blue Curls
Triphysaria eriantha * Yellow Owls Clover
Triteleia laxa * Ithuriel's Spear
Triteleia ixioides ssp. anilina * Pretty Face
Typha domingensis * Southern Cattail
Venegasia carpesioides * Canyon Sunflower
Vitis californica * California Wild Grape
Woodwardia fimbriata * Giant Chain Fern
Yucca brevifolia * Joshua Tree
Yucca whipplei * Our Lord's Candle
Zauschneria californica(Epilobium) * California Fuchsia
Zigadenus fremontii * Fremont's Star Lily

The second edition Jepson Manual  reflects the dramatic changes in the understanding of the plant taxonomy due to genetic studies of the plants. The Jepson Manual is the primary resource used for the identification of the California native plant material by the scientific community.  There have been some controversial name changes and there are and will probably always be some difficulty discerning the more complicated taxa.  To date I do not think that there is a better book on the subject.

I have found that identification is made much easier when I use a more local guide.   If for no other reason than there are just so many few plants to choose from.  For the Sierra Nevada Range I use A Sierra Nevada Flora  It is an excellent field guide with dichotomous keys and uses characteristics that can generally be seen without the aid of magnification.  For those plant groups that are determined by characteristics that do require a lens you would have to use another field guide, like the Jepson Manual.

Another local reference that I use regularly is A Flora of the Santa Barbara Region by Clifton F. Smith.  If you are interested in native plants from Ventura and Santa Barbara County's this is a great resource and becomming valuable as a collectable book. 

The most complete work on native plant propagation from seed that I have found is  Seed Propagation of Native California Plants, by Dara Emery. The list of plants is extensive.  His list of selections that have made their way into the horticultural trade is amazing by any measure.

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Last modified: June 5, 2013