California Native Flowering Plants

By: Tara Feld – Landscape Designer 
Contributor’s website: Tara Feld Design
Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu region with my friend and photographer Crystal Perez is one of my favorite ways to further my knowledge base of California native flowering plants. Crystal’s passion for botanical research is simply infectious. This photo taken by Ms. Perez of the California Poppy at the California Poppy Preserve in the Antelope Valley is a perfect example of the bold and memorable display of color and wild beauty of the California landscape coming soon in May. 
In her new photo book “Captured by Plants” Crystal  Perez states “This is a simple collection of photographs of various wild and garden variety plants that have captured my attention. I have found plants to posses a very powerful appeal to both their insect comrades and human observers. Photographing them has been very enjoyable and allows me to appreciate their beauty in a manner that remains much longer than the temporary state I find them in. This collection of photos represents a few of my images that best describe the lure and seduction of the plant kingdom.” 
I have featured Ms. Perez’s photography this month to give you a glimpse of the stunning variety of California native flowering plants blooming now through the month of May. Walking or hiking in any of our California State Parks is a great way to discover these and many more species of California native plants thriving in their natural habitat. Enjoy the journey!  
Now is the time to see the Giant Coreopis, Sea Dahlia in the Malibu costal region growing 10 feet tall, clustering around the landscape, waving yellow polk-a-dots with the passing costal breeze. The bright yellow daisy-like flowers and bright green foliage are cheery. The Giant Coreopis is part of the sunflower family.
This abundant showcase of flowers is a contrasting display from the Giant Coreopis’s appearance during the summer to wintertime when it’s foliage is entirely dry and brown. Although the Sea Dalia’s blooming time is March to May, I recommend checking them out in next two weeks when they are at the peak of their flowering potential at the end of  April.
The Pink mariposa Lily blooms in May in the Santa Monica Mountains. The delicate three petals of this pink mariposa lily are blushed with red spots with a golden yellow interior. This is a gem of a flower to observe in person.
This California native flowering plant the Lillium humboldtii, also called the Humboldt lily blooms in May and can reach the height of eight feet and recorded to have up to one hundred blooms when at full maturity. This lily is special due to its unique flowers, which grow upside down with its petals curling upward. The blooms dangle like oriental lanterns in a bold tiger orange with red-brown spots.   
Fushia gooseberry can be found all over the Santa Monica Mountains. I spotted many of these beautiful red flowers at the Temescal Canyon Park while hiking this month. The red fushia flowers dangle in clusters pointed downward off of a hardwood stem with lush green leaves. 
Indian paint brush blooms in the late spring and summer. The colorful brush like flowers can be found in a variety of bright red and orange colors (and the rare pink or white).
The California landscape is absolutely magnificent right now. The costal sage-scrub in the costal mountains and the chaparral areas are worth exploring. Get out this weekend and witness the symphony of colorful spring wildflowers. These native flowering plants will shift your landscaping dreams and desires towards new and exciting designs. Integrate a beautiful manzanita bush or California white sage shrub and watch your garden thrive while attracting humming birds and butterflies. Enjoy a small seasonal planting bed where you are free to experiment with full sun native plants like the full sun California golden poppy, or blue flowering dove lupin.  Need partial sun to shade plants? Try the Humboldt lilies for a change. Variety is truly the spice of life!
Special Thanks to botanical Photographer Crystal Perez. If you are interested in seeing more of Crystal Perez’s photography, or purchasing her photo book ‘Captured by Plants’ please contact me, TARA FELD at for more information.
Designer Tips of the Day:
If you are seeking a great resource book for hiking trails make the investment and purchase Top Trails, Los Angeles by Jerry Schad published by Wildness Press. Jerry Schad outlines all of the incredible Santa Monica mountain trails with maps and information about where to find waterfalls, lush wooded creek side trails and scenic overlook spots.
Need a good flower field guide? The National Audubon Society has a golden yellow edition, Field Guide to Wildflowers – Western Region, published by Knoff. This revised edition is a must have for any library or person of botanical interests. The book is organized so you can identify flowers easily by color, or by shape or by index. The photography is stunning!
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Contributor’s website: Tara Feld Design
(image credits: California Poppies, Giant Coreopis, Pink Mariposa Lily, Humboldt Lily, Fushia Gooseberry, Indian Paint Brush Images by Photographer Crystal Perez. All Images and Photography is Copyright Crystal Perez 2011)
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