BLOG: Celebrating California’s Native Flora, Plants, and Wildflowers

Do you know how California earned the nickname “the Golden State?” It’s not because there’s gold in the hills! In reality, as early Europeans in California they described the poppy-covered coastal hills as “golden.” Hundreds of years later, our wild poppy super blooms continue to capture hearts and minds not just here at home but all around the world.

Stefano da Sacco from Getty Images

According to the California Native Plant Society, California is home to more than 6,500 native plant types, including varieties and subspecies. This makes the Golden State a biodiversity hotspot and a treasure trove for botanists, ecologists, and all who appreciate the intricate weave of the natural world. These native species, from the iconic California poppy to the majestic redwoods, play an essential role in our ecosystem and contribute to our lives in ways we often overlook.

Why native plants matter

Native plants offer many benefits, both to their local environment and the communities surrounding them.

1. They support local wildlife: Our native plants are a crucial component of the ecosystem, providing food and habitats for many species, including birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. These animals rely on native plants for survival and, in turn, play a pivotal role in pollination and maintaining biodiversity.

2. Climate change mitigation: Native plants like the Joshua Tree are well adapted to local climate conditions and typically require much less water than non-native species. Unique adaptations like this make them crucial allies in the fight against climate change, as they aid in soil preservation, reducing erosion, and mitigating the impact of drought. 

3. Cultural heritage: Native plants are deeply woven into California’s history and culture. Long before Europeans arrived to colonize and exploit that same natural wealth, Indigenous people utilized flora like the California poppy as a source of food that could be boiled or steamed, or else to treat various illnesses and maladies. 

Olga Bungova from Getty Images

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Recognizing National Wildflower Week

National Wildflower Week, held each year in May, is more than a tribute to the beauty of wildflowers. It serves as a crucial reminder of the intricate relationships between plants, wildlife, and people, underscoring our responsibility to protect these natural wonders. No matter the week, you can still make a difference at home and in your community!

1. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the native plants in your area and their ecological importance. Spread the word to friends, family, and community members. Informing others about the significance of these plants creates a community more attuned to environmental preservation.

2. Plant native species: Incorporate native plants into your gardens and landscaping. They require less maintenance, conserve water, and provide habitat for local wildlife.

3. Support conservation efforts: Participate in local conservation projects or donate to organizations that protect native plant species and their habitats.

Ron and Patty Thomas from Getty Images

As we say farewell to this year’s spring blooms and welcome the summer, let’s celebrate and commit to preserving California’s rich tapestry of native plant species. Our actions today will ensure these natural wonders continue to thrive, benefiting our ecosystem and future generations who will walk among these same natural treasures.

Do you have a favorite native California plant? Let us know and send us a picture on Instagram or Twitter

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California Environmental Voters (EnviroVoters) Education Fund, formerly the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, believes the climate crisis is here and this moment requires transformative change. EnviroVoters Ed Fund fights for equity and justice for all Californians, from voting rights to clean air and water. We work together to make government, policy, and voting accessible by conducting public opinion research, shaping the public narrative, organizing with allies and local communities, and educating legislators on pressing environmental issues. We won’t stop until we have resilient, healthy, thriving communities, and a democracy and economy that is just and sustainable for all. Join us at and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram