What's beautiful today

Last updated on: May 31, 2023

Coast Cholla

Cylindropuntia prolifera
This succulent shrub is found along the coast of southern California down to Baja California, as well as on the Channel Islands. In the spring, it produces beautiful magenta flowers that are a similar shape as other members of the Cactus family!


Datura wrightii
This perennial is in the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family, and it is often used as an ornamental. It is found in the southwestern US, and it grows in habitats from desert to coastal sage scrub. Its large white flowers are striking, often having a purple tinge.


Chlorogalum pomeridianum
Soaproot is in the Agave (Agavaceae) family, with delicate white flowers. It grows in many habitats in California such as grasslands, chaparral, and woodlands. Like most agave, the leaves of this plant are a basal rosette, and when it flowers, it grows a tall stalk for the flowers to form on.

Davy's centaury

Zeltnera davyi
Walking through the Communities, you may come across these bright magenta flowers. Davy's centuary is an annual herb that is endemic to California. It grows along the coast from San Francisco Bay to Santa Barbara. It is also found on the Channel Islands. If you look closely at the flowers, you may notice how the stamens (has pollen) are a cork-screw shape!

Wild Hyacinth

Dischelostemma multiflorum
This perennial herb is found in northern California, living in open, grassy areas. It grows from a corm, which is like a bulb. Try to spot the lavender blooms as you walk around the Mesa!

Thickleaf Yerba Santa

Eriodictyon crassifolium
Endemic to southern California, this perennial shrub grows along coastal and inland hills. It has thick, woolly leaves and lavender flowers that grow in clusters.

Hall's Wyethia

Wyethia elata
This low-growing perennial is part of the Sunflower (Asteraceae) family! It is endemic to California and is only known from the Sierra Nevada foothills, living in woodland and pine forest habitats.

Jock Brydon Rhododendron

Rhododendron 'Jock Brydon'
This flowering shrub is a cultivar of the Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale). Its bold orange coloring makes the flowers stand out - see if you can spot them near the sequoias!

Hollyleaf Cherry

Prunus ilicifolia
This evergreen species in the Rose family is native to coastal California and northern Baja California. It produces clusters of small white flowers that will grow into cherries if pollinated!

Bright Green Dudleya

Dudleya virens
This perennial succulent is native to Los Angeles County, the Channel Islands, and Guadalupe Island. In the late spring, it forms clusters of 5-petaled flowers.

Coast range triplet lily

Triteleia lugens
This perennial herb is an endemic to California. It has golden yellow flowers that bloom in clusters. Enjoy seeing them as you walk through the Mesa!

Bracken Fern

Pteridium aquilinum
This fern is widespread and found on all continents except Antarctica! It also grows in a variety of habitats from the woods, fields, and marshes.

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.

Blue Flax

Linum lewisii
This herbaceous perennial is native to Western North America and has a wide range from Alaska to Baja California. It grows in low altitudes along ridges and dry slopes. The flowers are a lovely light blue to lavender to white.

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.

Tree Anemone

Carpenteria californica
This evergreen shrub is part of the Hydrangea family. The flowers look a lot like the Matilija Poppy, however, they are not closely related (the Matilija Poppy is in the Poppy family).


Salvia columbariae
This annual plant is related to sages in the genus Salvia. It is native to California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Baja California. The leaves are basal, and purple flowers are formed on stalks that look a lot like those of fellow Salvia's.

California Cudweed

Pseudognaphalium californicum
This plant may not look like your typical sunflower, but it is part of the Asteraceae family. It is native to the coasts of western North America from Washington to Baja California. The quaint white flowers are often used in flower arrangements.

Milk Vetch

Astragalus spp.
This perennial grows in Central and Southern California, especially along the southern coast. It likes grassy habitats and lower elevations. In the spring, it blooms with creamy white flowers. See if you can spot them in the California Communities!

Tidy Tips

Layia platyglossa
This annual wildflower is in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). As a composite flower, each "petal" you see is actually a ray flower! The ray flowers are golden yellow with distinct white tips. These plants grow throughout low elevations and dry habitats in California.

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.

Island Morning Glory

Calystegia macrostegia
These magnificent flowers grow on a woody perennial vine, and are typically white to light pink or purple. They occur on the Channel Islands as well as along the coast from Monterey County to Baja California. At the Garden, you can find them growing along the fence near the Cultivar Garden!


Arctostaphylos spp.
Manzanita means "little apple", and the plants produce small fruit that resemble apples! The berries of most species are edible and are said to taste tart, but it is best to be safe and double check before trying.

California Bluebells

Phacelia campanularia
These beautiful blue flowers call the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts their home, but they are also commonly cultivated to use in gardens as ornamental plants. Enjoy seeing them along the garden paths in the Mesa!

Baja Rose

Rosa minutifolia
This rose, also called the small-leaved rose, grows in chaparral and succulent scrub communities in northern Tijuana and parts of San Diego. Much of its habitat has been destroyed and it is listed as endangered by the California Native Plant Society.

Hybrid Monkey Hand Tree

xChiranthofremontia lenzii
A unique hybrid between Chiranthodendron pentadactylon and Fremontodendron 'Pacific Suncet', this tree has radiant flowers that will catch your eye! It is actually part of the cacao family, and bees love hanging out in the flowers. Look for it as you walk through the Cultivar Garden!

Western Wallflower

Erysimum capitatum
Part of the mustard family with its four sepals and four petals, this plant has a wide distribution in western North America! However, there are some varieties known to be endemics of California.

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).

Pink honeysuckle

Lonicera hispidula
Common native honeysuckle that can be found growing in shady forest stream banks and slopes, especially in central and northern CA.

Many-flowered linanthus

Leptosiphon floribundus
A small perennial native to southern California, and true to its name, covered in white flowers.

Cobweb thistle

Cirsium occidentale
Although many thistles are invasive, this one is native to California! Look closely to see the distinct cobwebby hairs (but don't touch- they have sharp spines).

Apache plume

Fallugia paradoxa
A rose-relative native to the desert with white flowers and very unique, wispy fruits

Baby blue eyes

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

Wild strawberry

Fragaria spp.
This plant forms a beautiful groundcover with pretty white flowers speckled throughout. It is adapted to arid environments so it does fairly well in drought conditions. Look for this perennial herb throughout the Mesa!

Heartleaf keckiella

Keckiella cordifolia
This creeping plant looks similar to honeysuckle, but is actually in the same family as Penstemons!

Seep monkeyflower

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

Yerba mansa

Anemopsis californica
This very unique-looking flower can be found in wetlands and springs throughout most of California.

Mojave yucca

Yucca schidigera
This relative of the Joshua tree has very similar large, white flowers that are pollinated at night by yucca moths.

California buttercup

Ranunculus californicus
These cute yellow flowers are widespread through California, growing in meadows and moist, shady places.


Salvia spp.
California has several species of native sages, usually shrubs with purple flowers and very fragrant leaves. Pictured here is Baja sage, Salvia chionopeplica.


Solanum spp.
Best known for their poisonous berries, nightshade or Solanum species are closely related to potatoes and have beautiful purple flowers! In Southern CA they can be found blooming even in the middle of winter.

Otay Mountain hosackia

Hosackia crassifolia var. otayensis
Native to Otay Mountain in San Diego County, this is a rare variety of a relatively common species. This variety has obviously hairy leaves whereas the common variety has much more obscure hairs or none at all.

Southern mountain misery

Chamaebatia australis
One of two species of Mountain Misery in California, Southern Mountain Misery is native to San Diego County and adjacent Baja California, Mexico. The name Mountain Misery comes from the sticky leaves that have a somewhat pungent smell.

California buckeye

Aesculus californica
Besides its outstanding blooms, California buckeye is notable for being summer deciduous. To conserve water during the driest part of the year, California buckeye will drop all its leaves and go dormant until the winter rains.


Adenostoma fasciculatum
Chamise is arguably the most iconic chaparral species and one of the most widespread shrubs in California. The fasciculatum in the scientific name refers to the fascicles or clusters of leaves.

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.

Indian Tobacco

Nicotiana quadrivalvis
Indian tobacco is one of four species of tobaccos native to California where it has long been cultivated by indigenous peoples.

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.

Golden Currant

Ribes aureum
Presumably named for the long-tubed yellow flowers, golden currant also has fruit that is sometimes golden. Interestingly, the ripe fruit of golden currant can range in color from yellowish orange to red to black, even in the same population. This shrub is common in the communities section of the garden.

Joshua tree

Yucca brevifolia
The Joshua tree is an iconic member of the southern California flora. If you can't make it out to the desert, our garden is a perfect place to see these majestic plants! Lucky for you, it's in bloom right now too!


Phacelia sp.
An annual, this beautiful purple flower pops up in our California Habitats (Plant Communities) section! A member of the Borage family, it can cause contact dermatitis for some.


Nemophila maculata
These small, sweet flowers are found only in California! They get their common name from the distinct spots, one on each petal.


Cryptantha sp.
These small flowers can be found throughout the garden. As they dry out, they become prickly and can cause skin irritation for some. Look, but don't touch!

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!


Penstemon spp.
There are several species of beardtongues throughout the Garden. The flowers are vividly colored:  red, blue or purple, and are on tall, charismatic stems.


Quercus sp.
You may not associate oaks with flowers, but flowers they indeed have! Produced on catkins, the male flowers produce massive amounts of pollen that can cause seasonal allergies for many. The female flowers are among the most subtle flowers in the plant kingdom. Search for them in the notch between stems and leaves or at the very ends of fine branches.


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! Watch out for flashes of bright orange petals and happy pollinators!

Hummingbird sage

Salvia spathacea
For any gardener looking to attract hummingbirds, this is the perfect plant! Its red, tubular flowers are known to be hummingbird pollinated. Aromatic, leathery leaves will ward off deer. This sage needs a bit more shade and water than the others but it is well worth the additional attention!


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!

Elegant Clarkia

Clarkia unguiculata
Beautiful and slender, the elegant clarkia has oval shaped leaves, fuzzy seed pods and buds, reddish stems, and a unique purple, pink, or sometimes red flower with 4 spade shaped petals. It only naturally grows in California and can be found in woodlands, especially under oak trees. This plant’s lovely flower is important for native bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, such as the White-Lined Sphinx moth that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion.


Clarkia sp.
Farewell-To-Spring refers to many different types of Clarkia plants that have oval shaped leaves and lovely pink, purple, or red 4-petaled flowers and depending on the species are white-striped or have colored flecks. Most clarkias grow in sunny and open areas throughout Western North America and many, like Clarkia amoena (Godetia), can be found in California. Several species however only naturally grow here in California. Did you know that clarkias were called Farewell-To-Spring because they bloom during late Spring and wave in the wind? Due to their beautiful clusters of flowers, clarkias also attract many bees and butterflies, like the White-Lined Sphinx Moth that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion.

De la Mina Verbena (Lilac Verbena)

Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina'
De la Mina verbena, also known as purple Cedros Island verbena, is a beautiful shrub with green wrinkled leaves and fragrant, rich purple blossoms that grow in clusters on long stems. It only grows naturally on Cedros Island, off the coast of Baja California. However, it can grow in well-drained soils in South-western and Southern U.S. This lovely plant blooms almost year round, grows fast, and is drought tolerant.

Blue Elderberry

Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea
Bearing beautiful flowers and delicious fruit, blue elderberry is a shrub or tall tree with green leaves with little spikes, small cream or yellow flowers in clusters, and purple edible berries that are available in the Fall. Blue elderberry grows in moist places in a large region: from Oregon to Baja California, and eastward to West Texas. Butterflies and bees love elder flowers, and many different types of birds and other small animals love its fruit. Elderberries could also be eaten and made into drinks and dyes.

Woolly Blue Curls

Trichostema lanatum
Deliciously fragrant, woolly blue curls is a shrub with bright green and narrow leaves and rich blue and purple, curly, and woolly flowers that grow on stalks. Though they tend to grow towards the coast in western parts of California, they grow in dry, sunny areas in California and Baja California. This plant is very attractive to hummingbirds. Bees and butterflies, like the Variable Checkerspot butterfly, love it too! Its leaves are also said to make a very delicious tea.

Island Snapdragon

Gambelia speciosa, Galvezia speciosa
Vibrant and beautiful, the island snapdragon is a shrub with bright red, tubular flowers that grow in clusters and smooth, lime-green leaves. It prefers coastal areas, but is a drought-tolerant plant that can grow in well-drained and rocky areas. Hummingbirds love its lovely flowers, and island snapdragon is fire resistant. It is also an endangered species and only grows naturally on the islands off the coast of Southern California and Baja California.


Peritoma arborea, Isomeris arborea
Bladderpod is a shrub with many branches, blue-green, circular leaves, and beautiful bright yellow flowers that grow in clusters. It tends to bloom year round and can be found from the coast to the deserts in Southern and Baja California. Named after its puffed up, edible seed pods, this hardy plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. It also gives off an interesting fragrance that is a source of debate: some think the smell is pleasant while others think the complete opposite. Visit the bladderpod today and discover what you think of it!


Acmispon glaber, Lotus scoparius
Common but nonetheless precious, deerweed is a shrub with small, narrow leaves and tiny, yellow or golden flowers that grow up the stems. These flowers redden towards the end of summer. Deerweed can be found in dry areas across Southwestern U.S. It has gotten its name since it is one of deer’s favorite foods, but this plant is also important for honey bees and butterflies. It also is important for habitat restoration after a wildfire; deerweed fixes nitrogen, a necessary nutrient for plants, back into the soil after a fire, thus making a way for other plants to grow in the area again.

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?

Pink Fairy-Duster

Calliandra eriophylla
This feathery ball of pink and white is actually a cluster of flowers. More interesting, whereas many flowers use bright colored petals or sepals to draw in pollinators, the fairy-duster has very small petals and uses the long, brightly colored stamens to attract pollinators.

St. Catherine's Lace Buckwheat

Eriogonum giganteum
This elegant plant has “carpets” of tiny pink-white flowers that grow above its white-green leaves. It only naturally grows on California’s Channel Islands, in the fast-draining, moist, and rocky coastal scrub. St. Catherine’s Lace buckwheat is a very important food source for butterflies such as the Gray Hairstreak and for birds. In late summer and early fall its pinkish-white flowers get a new dark-orange color. This buckwheat has also traditionally been used by Native Americans to alleviate head and stomach aches.

California Brittlebush

Encelia californica
The California brittlebush is hardy and tall with bright yellow flowers that form in clusters on thin stems. They can grow in a variety of places, including rocky or marshy areas, throughout California and Baja California. This perky plant grows fast, loves the sun, and is perfect for bees and butterflies like the Painted Lady.

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).

Matilija Poppy

Romneya coulteri
Also known as “the fried-egg plant”, the Matilija poppy is a beautiful, fragrant flower that only naturally occurs in California (both the U.S. state and the Mexican state, Baja California). It can be found in canyons and dried riverbeds, also known as washes. Their seeds can only germinate after a fire or heat-flash but once they’re planted they can keep growing, even after you try and remove them! This water wise plant is easily identifiable and has the largest flowers of any native California plant species.

California Buckwheat

Eriogonum fasciculatum
This drought-tolerant and lovely shrub has small, fuzzy leaves and white, small flowers that grow in dense clusters on the bush. It can be found growing all over sandy areas, such as canyons and dried riverbeds, throughout Central and Southern California. California buckwheat’s beautiful flowers change color from white to pink to burnt orange as the plant dries and the season progresses, and has been used by Native American communities as a medicine to alleviate head and stomach aches, promote heart health, and aid in digestion.