These are the best wildflower spots in Southern California

These are the best wildflower spots in Southern California

Because of diverse elevations, Southern California has a long wildflower season, running from late February in the deserts well into summer in local mountain ranges.

~ Click on the link above to be taken to the Press-Enterprise article with fully interactive map on page 2 of the article ~

The flush of green and the burst of orange poppies on hillsides are teasing wildflower enthusiasts.

The abundance of rain this winter, following five years of drought, has many Southern California flower lovers excited about a possible epic display this spring. But stormy weather and the lack of sunshine until recent days has slowed the region’s bloom.

“Because of all the rain, most of the native wildflowers are all still in a vegetative mode. They are just putting on green,” said Timothy Krantz, a University of Redlands professor of environmental science and director of the botanic garden at the Oak Glen Preserve. “As soon as we get some hot, clear sunny days, that will be the trigger that puts them into blooming mode.”

And the result of all that rain?

“It’s going to be an absolutely spectacular season,” he said.

But there could be a villain: nonnative European grasses, which can grow tall — and fast.

“I would have to say that just because of the cold holding back the wildflowers, and because of the rain giving those annual grasses a head start,” the grasses may overshadow low-growing natives, said Rob Hicks, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve park interpreter in Murrieta.

On south-facing slopes that lack the invasive grasses, conditions are great for native plants, he said. His “what-if” factors are echoed by other Southern California experts who mention Mother Nature’s fickle turns.

“I would say we’re expecting a very good season,” said Betsy Knaak, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association executive director, who has been in Borrego Springs for almost four decades. “There are lots of buds.”

California Wildflowers

Experts believe this will be a banner year for wildflowers in California

As of earlier this week, Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks had not posted wildflower seasonal reports. Kate Barrows, who teaches native plant classes and is active in the California Native Plant Society, said the bloom has started at the south Cottonwood Canyon end of Joshua Tree – from desert poppies and desert dandelions to Canterbury bells and desert lupines.

Lorrae Fuentes, in her seventh season as wildflower hotline coordinator for Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, posted the first hotline report this week. Except for some desert areas, “I think it’s still early because we haven’t had a lot of warm temperatures,” Fuentes said.

Rex Frankel leads hikes in Los Angeles County, including the Santa Monica Mountains, and wrote in an email he expects the widest array of colors from mid-March to mid-May.

And after that, the mountains will explode, according to Debra L. Nelson, San Bernardino National Forest botanist in the San Jacinto Ranger District.

These are the best wildflower spots in Southern California – Press Enterprise

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“The seeps, meadows and riparian areas in upper elevations in the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto wilderness areas should be spectacular in June and July this year due to the moisture from the melting snow pack,” Nelson wrote in a statement.


While wildflowers grow all over Southern California, some areas are known for their blooms.

Do you know of any other great places to spot beautifal wildflowers? Or have amazing pictures you shot before? Share them with us on Twitter @PEcom_news, Facebook at or email at

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