What's beautiful today

Last updated on: May 7th, 2024

Firecracker penstemon, Scarlet burglar

Penstemon eatonii, Penstemon centranthifolius
Firecracker penstemon and scarlet burglar are two red penstemon species that look very similar to one another. Firecracker penstemon grows from the Rocky Mountains to California, but only in the California deserts. Scarlet burglar grows all across the southern California coast and coastal ranges. These two penstemons are excellent attractors for hummingbirds.

Stream Orchid

Epipactis gigantea
This perennial orchid grows in moist places and tend to go dormant in the event of a drought. It is native to California in addition to across western North America. At the Garden, you can find this plant by the Reflecting Pond.

Beavertail Prickly Pear

Opuntia basalaris var. basalaris
It is flowering season for members of the Cactus family such as the Beavertail Prickly Pear! Enjoy the bright flowers as you walk through the California Communities and other parts of the Garden with desert plants.

Calico Monkeyflower

Diplacus pictus
This cute plant is an annual herb that can grow to be about a foot, but is commonly just a few centimeters tall! It is endemic to central California in the southern Sierra Nevada. Although tiny, it has striking maroon patterns on its white petals.

Desert Globemallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua
This lovely perennial is also known as the Apricot Mallow. It grows in the western United States including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, as well as Baja California. It has fuzzy leaves and beautiful flowers that bees love to visit! You can find this plant in the Cultivar and Flower Garden.

Coral Bells

Heuchera 'Wendy'
Wendy coral bells are an evergreen perennial that bloom in the spring in summer. When they bloom, they have lovely pink flowers shaped like bells. It's a hybrid between the Alum Root (Heuchera maxima) and the Coral Bell (Heuchera sanguinea).

Hoaryleaf Ceanothus

Ceanothus crassifolius
This shrub has sweet-smelling flowers that bloom in clusters. It is found throughout the coastal mountain ranges of the southern half of California and into Baja California.

Lemonade Berry

Rhus integrifolia
Lemonade berry naturally occurs along the coast of Southern California. It has creamy white to pink flowers that bees love to pollinate! Stay tuned for the fruit that gave this evergreen shrub's name...

Baby blue eyes

Nemophila menziesii
These adorable blue flowers can be found throughout most of California in places with partial shade.

Seep monkeyflower

Erythranthe guttata
This shade-loving monkeyflower can be found along streams throughout California.

Chick lupine

Lupinus microcarpus
Chick lupine is one of California's most variable wildflowers in regards to flower color. The flowers can be white, pink, lavender, purple, yellow, and occasionally somewhat red. Yellow is the most common color at the Garden but you may see other colors too.

California Bay Laurel

Umbellularia californica
California Bay Laurel is a tree with wonderful-smelling leaves. These have been used as a substitute for bay leaves in cooking. These two species are both in the Laurel family which also includes the plants cinnamon and avocados come from.

Common sunflower

Helianthus annuus
Common sunflowers are the tall plants with yellow flowers that greet you in the Wildflower Meadow when you first step into the garden. This species is native to much of North America where it has been cultivated by Indigenous Americans for thousands of years. The sunflowers you grow with giant flowers are this same species but selectively bred for bigger flowers and thus the bigger, tasty sunflower seeds you eat.

Sticky Monkeyflower

Diplacus spp.
The sticky monkeyflowers are the only shrubby monkeyflowers in California and named for the often sticky leaves. These species have a wide variety of flower colors that are made even wider by cultivated hybrids. The garden has a nice sampling of both native species and cultivars derived from them. The most common color you'll see is orange but you can find flowers that are red or yellow. Try looking for them on the western portion of the loop trail in the CA plant communities garden.

Santa Catalina Island Currant

Ribes viburnifolium
Santa Catalina Island currant is a rare plant known from Santa Catalina Island, the southernmost parts of San Diego County, and Baja California. This currant is a common groundcover in shady areas of the garden. While the leaves of most currants are deciduous, this species has evergreen leaves making it suitable for gardeners who prefer not to have dormant, leafless plants in their garden part of the year.

California Pipevine

Aristolochia californica
California pipevine has possibly the most bizarre flowers of any plant in the garden. These flowers have an odor that attracts carrion feeders like some flies. Because of the odd shape of the flower, these flies may get temporarily stuck and disoriented inside, picking up extra pollen while trying to find their way out. California pipevine is also the host plant for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

Mission Manzanita

Xylococcus bicolor
While mission manzanita looks similar to other manzanitas, it's actually in a different genus. The bicolor part of the scientific name means two-colored and refers to the leaves being green on one side and white on the other. The leaves of true manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.) are the same color on both sides.

Chaparral Currant

Ribes malvaceum
One of the earliest blooming shrubs in the garden, the drooping inflorescence of pink flowers will later produce berries for the birds to eat. Also look for the very similar white-flowering current (Ribes indecorum), which has smaller white flowers without shades of pink.

Red-flowered Buckwheat

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
Named for its red flowers, this rare native perennial grows on the dry cliffs of three of the Channel Islands of California. It's vibrant blooms rise up on long stalks above a base of leaves that are dark green on the upper side and pale green on the underside. The blooms will last well into summer, making it great for attracting pollinators, especially butterflies. Even after the flowers have faded into fruits, these plants retain their architectural interest.

Golden yarrow

Eriophyllum confertiflorum
In the sunflower family, this plant produces cute yellow flowers in the springtime. It is native to the Sierra Nevada, coastal ranges in California, and Baja California - but it also would be great in your yard!

Douglas iris

Iris douglasiana
In greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow serving as messenger to the Olympian Gods. The scientific name for the Iris genus is super easy to remember because it’s the same as the common name, Iris!


Rosa spp.
Did you know there are native California roses? There are several species throughout California, and here at the garden!

California blue-eyed grass

Sisyrinchium bellum
These sweet, small flowers are not really grasses at all! They are in the Iris family. In the wild, these flowers are usually blue - but sometimes can be white! Other species in the same genus have lovely yellow flowers.

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica
Our state flower can, of course, be found throughout the Garden! While showy, the petals close at night or during cloudy days. In areas with cold winters, the plant acts as an annual but acts as a perennial where the winters are mild. Watch out for flashes of bright orange petals and happy pollinators!

California Redbud

Cercis occidentalis
These trees are a sight to behold! Their bright pink flowers pop for just a few short weeks. Visiting the garden while they're in bloom is a must!


Ceanothus sp.
The eye-catching ceanothus are giant shrubs in the genus of the same name, and have wrinkled, oval shaped, sometimes spiky leaves and big, beautiful clusters of fragrant blue, purple, or white tiny flowers. They grow in well-drained soils across Western North America, but particularly here in California. You’ll often see ceanothus in gardens and along streets since it is fast-growing and drought tolerant. Ceanothus plants have been used by Native Americans for many medicinal reasons: to help with poison oak, for gynecological problems, foot injuries, and more!


Lupinus spp.
Among the first to flower in Spring, lupines are beautiful shrubs of the genus Lupinus that have long stems, leaves that radiate out of the stems, and beautiful pea-shaped flowers that encircle the stems and come in a variety of colors. Sometimes referred to as “the wolf bean,” lupines can be found in a variety of habitats across 5 continents! There are more than 100 species of lupine that are native to California alone. Lupines are also great for bees and butterflies!

Channel Island Tree Poppy

Dendromecon harfordii
The Channel Island tree poppy is a rare, tall shrub with beautiful, bright, and fragrant yellow flowers and smooth, silvery leaves. They grow fast in dry areas and they only grow naturally on the Channel Islands. Did you know that this drought-tolerant plants’ seeds germinate better after a fire?

Spectacular (or Showy) Penstemon

Penstemon spectabilis
Spectacular penstemon, also known as showy penstemon, is famous for its rich colored, trumpet-shaped flowers, its fast growth rate, and its drought tolerance. They grow in well-drained and sunny areas in the southwestern U.S., particularly here in Southern California, and Baja California. Because of the shape and color of their flowers, they attract many different pollinators, including hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies such as the Variable Checkerspot.

Desert Marigold

Baileya multiradiata
Desert marigold and their tall, radiant yellow flowers are perfect pops of color in gardens. They thrive in dry, sunny, and rocky areas in the southwestern parts of the U.S. and in northern Mexico. Desert marigolds are not true marigolds (Tagetes spp.) but both are members of the aster family (Asteraceae).