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.
Nevin's Woolly Sunflower
The beautifully silver, fuzzy leaves of this small shrub stand out on their own merit, but when contrasted with its bright yellow clustering flowers, this plant is a show stopper. It blooms in spring through late summer. This rare plant is endemic to three of the Channel Islands where it grows in coastal sage scrub habitat. Until recently, it was identified as Eriophyllum nevinii - DNA studies found it to be only distantly related to Eriophyllum, and now is the only member of the monotypic genus Constancea.
The bright yellow flowers of the evening primrose contrast beautifully against the plant’s aloe- colored leaves and add beautiful pops of color to the garden.This summer blooming plant will open its flowers in the late afternoon into early evening, and the flowers will then wilt in the heat of the following day. That bright yellow color stands out at night too and provides visual cues to attract a special pollinator in the dim light of the evening, the night flying hawkmoth. The hawkmoth will use its very long tongue to probe into the long floral tube for nectar.
Narrow leaf milkweed
These flowering perennials stand up tall and slender with their long narrow leaves that whorl around their stems. They produce clusters of white to light lavender flowers that eventually form smooth pods that burst open casting out winged seeds. They are an important plant for the Monarch butterfly as they are host plants for their larval stage of life. Milkweed provides a source of food for the Monarch caterpillar and shelter when it is time to pupate. By planting this Milkweed, you will be sure to see Monarchs and other native butterfly species visit your garden.
This deciduous shrub bursts with bundles of cream to yellow colored blooms in spring that turn into purple to blue berries in summer through fall. These berries are a vital food source for birds that visit the garden. Don’t let the term shrub fool you, these plants can grow up to 30 feet tall but can also be pruned to retain a smaller size.
Midnight Magic blue curls
Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'
This compact shrub produces showy spikes of deep purple flowers extending out from dark green leaves. It is a hybrid of Woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) and Trichostema purpusii. Although its leaves are fragrant, it’s aroma is much milder than that of Woolly blue curls. These plants will produce gorgeous purple flowers from spring until fall. Making a plant list for fall? Midnight Magic is very easy to grow in a garden setting where our fully native Woolly blue curls can be fussy.
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.
Showy island snapdragon
Although common and popular in the California native horticultural trade, in the wild it is only found on Santa Catalina, San Clemente, and Guadalupe (Mexico) Islands. Its red tubular flowers make it popular with pollinators, especially hummingbirds.
Santa Rosa island sage
This plant is native to Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of southern California. On Santa Rosa Island, grazing by non-native herbivores has severely limited its distribution, but thanks to restoration efforts, its numbers are now recovering!
Did you think that all buckwheats had white and pink flowers, that turn a rusty brown once they dry? Not this one! Conejo buckwheat has beautiful, sulfur yellow flowers!
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!
Mojave kingcup cactus
Cacti flowers are truly stunning, and this species is no exception! Low to the ground, in the spring it bursts forth with radiant red flowers that attract all sorts of pollinators.
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!
Sycamores lose their leaves during the winter. In the spring, the regrowth of these leaves is accompanied by flowers borne in balls, hanging on stalks from the main stems. Take a close look: while not as showy as some flowers in the garden, they are intriguing!
There are several species of beardtongues throughout the Garden. The flowers are vividly colored: red, blue or purple, and are on tall, charismatic stems.
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.
Did you know there are native California roses? There are several species throughout California, and here at the garden!
Our state flower can, of course, be found throughout the Garden! Watch out for flashes of bright orange petals and happy pollinators!
These gorgeous yellow flowers can be spotted throughout the garden. During the summer it produces blue berries that look like grapes - giving it the namesake Oregon Grape!
Beautiful and slender, the elegant clarkia is a shrub with slender, 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.
The enchanting sacred datura is a wildflower with broad, dark-green, wavy leaves and big, white, trumpet-shaped flowers. These flowers have 5 lines that radiate from the center of the flower, can have a slight purple tint, are sweetly fragrant, and are the highlight of the plant. Sacred datura can be found in gravelly open areas or alongside roads throughout the South-western U.S. It is also called sacred thorn-apple since its seeds are in spiky balls. Though this plant is dazzling, it is also dangerous; every part of this plant is quite poisonous. Because of its hallucinogenic properties, this plant was used by Native Americans for sacred ceremonies.
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.
Bearing beautiful flowers and delicious fruit, mexican 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. Also known as blue elderberry, Mexican 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.
Also known as beloperone, the vibrant chuperosa is a shrub with green, succulent-like leaves and lots of long, tubular flowers that come in different shades of red or sometimes yellow. Hardy and beautiful, chuparosa grows in hot, dry, and sandy or rocky places in Southern California, Arizona, and North-western Mexico. This plant also attracts a lot of hummingbirds and other birds. In fact, its name “chuparosa” meant “hummingbird” in Spanish!
Woolly Blue Curls
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 that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion, love it too! Its leaves are also said to make a very delicious tea.
Naked (or Nude) Buckwheat
Named for its numerous tall and leafless stems, naked buckwheat is a shrub that has few flat and fuzzy leaves at its base and bright clusters of white, yellow, or pink flowers at the ends and junctions of the stems. It is not uncommon, and can be found in dry, open areas across the United States’ west coast. Its stems during a drought can turn into a red-purple color, and naked buckwheat was used for food by both animals and humans. This lovely plant’s stems were also dried and used for straws and for children’s games.
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.
Cleveland sage, also known as blue sage, is a fragrant shrub with wrinkly, fuzzy green leaves and rich purple or blue, trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in raised clusters. This drought-tolerant plant grows in well drained, sunny areas in Southern California and Baja California. Cleveland sage’s lovely, strong fragrance and beautiful flowers attract a lot of hummingbirds and bees. It was also eaten, used for ceremonies, and used to cure poison oak by Native Americans.
Channel Island Tree Poppy
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?
White sage is a shrub with green, waxy leaves that are covered in tiny white hairs and has clusters of fragrant white flowers on stalks. White sage can grow in a variety of places-dry slopes, foothills, canyons, and more- across Southern and Baja California. This plant continues to be used by Native Americans during ceremonies, and has many antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. White sage attracts many different kinds of butterflies and bees and, due to its medical properties, is also said to make a honey that is really healthy for you!
Common and beautiful, the black sage is a shrub with dark green leaves and mildly fragrant purple, blue, or white flowers that are in raised clusters. It quickly grows in sunny and dry areas, especially near the coast, from Central California to Baja California. It also provides food for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, quail, and for us too! Black sage is famous for its honey. Sages are also famous for their medical properties; black sage has antimicrobial oils, is used to help with respiratory problems, is anti-inflammatory, and was also used by Native Americans to treat arthritis.
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.
The Chaparral yucca, also known as Our Lord’s Candle, is a tall shrub with agave-like leaves at its base and cream colored flowers on its single tall stalk. It is extremely drought tolerant and grows on dry, rocky soils in Southern California and Baja California. It attracts butterflies and has a specific moth, the California yucca moth, that pollinates it.This plant is also known as “the Swiss Army Knife of the Chaparral” because of its manifold uses. It was, and is, used by Native Americans as food, fuel, shoe, basket, and house building materials, and much more!
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, which you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion.
A member of the mint family, coyote mint is a wildflower the size of a small shrub and has bright pink or purple flowers in round clusters and fragrant, crinkled leaves. They only naturally grow in California, in coastal, woodland, or rocky areas where they can get plenty of sun and enough shade and water. Coyote mint flowers and their fragrance attracts a lot of bees and a range of butterflies, including the Mourning Cloak butterflies that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion. Coyote mint can also be made into a strong mint tea and was used by Native American tribes to relieve sore throats, stomach aches, and respiratory issues.
Spectacular (or Showy) Penstemon
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, a butterfly species that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion.
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. This bee-friendly plant can be used as dye and food coloring, medicine for wounds, tonics, and even deodorants! Marigolds are also known to be a repellent for mosquitoes, aphids, and other insects that you wouldn’t want in your gardens.
Known for its durability and beautiful fragrant flowers, the Desert Willow is a tall shrub with long,green narrow leaves and pink or purple trumpet-like flowers. It grows in sandy areas and dry grasslands throughout the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Desert willow is used in landscape design because of its beautiful flowers and nice form.
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.
These cacti are paddle shaped plants that produce vibrant flowers that come in a variety of shades. They are found in deserts and dry, sunny areas in Texas to Southern California and the states in between. Opuntia cacti are also famous for producing prickly pears, which from some species can be used as food, and were all used for dyes, wounds, and even skin treatments.
These trees are famous for their beautiful, bright yellow flowers and smooth green trunks. It is a desert plant that grows in Southern California, Southern Arizona, and Northwestern Mexico, and whose flowers provide the much-needed shade, nectar, and seeds for bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. Did you know that Palo Verde trees drop edible seeds and flowers?
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 was used by the Native American tribes as a medicine to alleviate head and stomach aches, promote heart health, and aid in digestion.