Whether you’re walking in the sandy expanse of the desert or across a treeless plain, the ground beneath your feet in California is never empty. It can be home to millions of seeds, each just waiting for the right conditions to germinate.
Many of these seeds are wildflowers. As one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, California has tremendous native plant diversity, which includes a dazzling variety of annual spring blooms. Sometimes the conditions are just right for an epic abundance of these flowers—a phenomenon popular culture calls a “superbloom”—when the growth is so colorful and vast that it has been seen from space. This is a rare event anywhere in the world, and we are lucky to have it occur in our own backyard.
Why do we have such gorgeous annual wildflowers that live for a short spring season before going to seed? It has to do with California’s special climate. It makes more sense for these flowers to be annuals with a seasonal life cycle. That way they don’t have to survive the state’s hot and dry summers. They can instead leave a new generation, in the form of seeds, to spring forth in the coming years.
- Stay on trails to protect the wildflowers and their seeds.
- Respect the local community by following signs and rules.
- Take only photos.
- Leave no trace. Pack out trash, and let Mother Nature set the scene.
Where to see wildflowers
Experience Wildflowers Like a Botanist
- Get Curious
Look beyond the color. How many different types of flowers do you see?
Look closely. How many petals does the flower have? What shape are the leaves?
Discover which wildflowers you’re seeing using the resources listed to the right.
Capture California’s splendid wildflower shows and share your photos with #CNPSwildflowers.
What kind of habitat do these flowers seem to prefer? Near trees, streams, in the open sun?
What Am I Seeing?
- CNPS Public Facebook Group
This savvy group can help you ID almost any wildflower you find.
A comprehensive plant ID resource, including “What grows here?” where users can search for plants using an online map.
Post observations from the field with your smartphone. The online community will identify unknowns and verify your IDs.
An enormous, searchable photo database of California’s flora and fauna.
- CNPS webstore
Your go-to for botanical books and guides.