California is well known for its rich and rugged landscapes that surround its bustling cities. In fact, the state’s flora and fauna are one of the biggest reasons tourists decide to pay the state a visit.
Throughout the year, primarily in spring and summer, the Californian landscape is covered in vibrant plant life. An interesting fact is that California has almost 6,500 native species of plants.
While this is fantastic news, it can make it hard to identify the flowers you see. Today, we want to make things easier for you! In this post, we’re going to show you the best yellow California wildflowers you can spot on your next adventure.
We’ll tell you a bit about each flower and where you can find them. If you want to learn more about the plant life you might see in California, keep reading!
1. Sticky Monkey Flower
The first yellow California wildflower we have for you is the sticky monkey flower. This vibrant bell-like flower can be found all over California, but a popular place to see them is in Rancho Corral de Tierra.
The best time of year to see the flower is between March and May which is when the plant reaches its peak.
Known scientifically as diplacus aurantiacus, the sticky monkey flower blooms in clusters at the end of thin but sturdy branches.
Aside from looking pretty special, this flower is also an important host for larvae and butterflies.
2. Tidy Tips
Also known by the name Layia platyglossa, the tidy tips flower is easily one of the most beautiful wildflowers the state of California has to offer.
Commonly used in grassland restoration programs to attract pollinators, this flower has a bright yellow flower with stunning white tips.
Like the sticky monkey flower, tidy tips are also important for local wildlife. Aside from attracting pollinators, this flower is also a great source of food for birds.
Tidy tips flowers typically bloom between the months of March and June. One of the most common places to find this wildflower is in Calero County Park.
3. California Goldfields
California goldfields are a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. This is a widespread species of flower that can be found all over North America.
Despite growing at a rapid rate and relatively large in size, the California goldfields plant only produces tiny flowers.
No bigger than a quarter, this plant produces sunflower-like flowers that are bright yellow in color. More often than not, every flower has up to eight delicate petals.
The flower is called goldfields because it covers fields like a carpet, giving them a vibrant golden appearance.
This flower blooms between March and May. You can find it in meadows and on hillside landscapes. When it grows in large quantities, California goldfields are impossible to miss.
4. California Poppy
The California poppy is a perennial plant that grows up to 12 inches tall. The flowers this plant produces are bright yellow and orange in color, featuring a classic poppy appearance.
Like other species of poppy, this flower is used to make bouquets and flower beds.
In the wild, this species of poppy can take over a space quite quickly. Flowering usually takes place between February and September so you’ve got plenty of time to spot them. The flowers are solitary, growing on long stems.
Each flower has four petals that close at night. You can find the California poppy in abundance across North California. Mount Diablo State Park is usually the best place to find them.
5. Yellow Sand Verbena
Next up, we have the yellow sand verbena. Known scientifically as Abronia latifolia, this is a unique species of flower that differs from the other flowers in its genus.
Most flowers that belong to this genus have purple and pink flowers. However, this wildflower has bright yellow flowers.
Found in coastal habitats, sand dunes, and scrublands, this plant blooms large clusters of small, delicate, and vibrant flowers. Each bell-shaped flower helps create a unique ball-like cluster.
One cluster can consist of anything from 17 to 34 flowers. The yellow sand verbena tends to bloom between May and October.
6. Rayless Goldenhead
One of the most unique and alien-like yellow wildflowers you should look out for when adventuring through California is the rayless goldenhead. This bizarre-looking flower tends to inhabit California’s desert areas and the Colorado River.
What makes this flower so unique is its lack of ray florets. As its name would suggest, this flower is rayless. Therefore, its flowers only feature disc florets.
Each plant produces between 13 and 27 yellow florets. Despite being yellow in color, this flower is usually quite pale.
The globe-shaped involucre is only about a third of an inch wide. This makes the flower surprisingly small. This flower blooms between the months of March and June.
7. Bush Poppy
Another type of poppy native to California is the bush poppy. Also referred to as the tree poppy because it grows on a small tree and shrub, this flower is one of the most vibrant on this list.
Growing to a height of 10 inches tall, this small plant produces flowers that are fragrant, bright yellow in color, and cup-shaped. Each stem produces its own solitary flower which can grow to be 3 inches across.
The bush poppy tends to bloom throughout the year but you’ll most commonly see them in spring and summer.
Popular places to find bush poppies include dry slopes, rocky washes, and coastal mountains. Plenty of bush poppy flowers can be found in the foothills of Sierra Nevada.
8. Bush Sunflower
The bush sunflower, commonly referred to as the California brittlebush, is another flowering species of plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family.
Other names for this species of flower include California coast sunflower and California bush sunflower.
As you can probably tell, this flower gets its name from its sunflower-like appearance. In fact, this flower is essentially just a smaller species of sunflower. It features bright yellow petals and a dark disc.
Found along the California coast, this species of wildflower is dominant. It can quickly take over an area and choke out other flowers. The main bloom for the bush sunflower is between February and June.
9. Desert Marigold
The desert marigold is characterized by bright yellow individual florets that are arranged in dense heads. This makes the florets look like one single flower. The head of each floret is approximately two inches in diameter.
Despite being called the desert marigold, this wildflower can be found all over California and surrounding North American states. You might find the desert marigold growing on gravelly soils, roadside, in sandy habitats, and along plains.
This flower also grows in the desert in Texas. The plant isn’t hard to miss as it can reach heights of 2 feet. Despite their beauty, desert marigold flowers are actually poisonous to sheep and goats.
10. Golden Lupine
Golden lupine is one of our favorite Californian wildflowers because it is extremely vibrant, cheery, unique, and beautiful.
This is an annual wildflower native to the state of California. Found along the hillsides of the Pacific Coast, this plant germinates quickly.
As a result, it isn’t uncommon to find a hillside covered in golden lupine flowers. This makes it incredibly easy to spot the golden lupine so you shouldn’t have any issues finding it.
In terms of what it looks like, this plant produces long, dense spikes that are adorned by small, bright yellow flowers.
The flowers bloom in clusters which makes the plant look like one big flower. It’s only upon close inspection that you realize the spike is made up of small flowers with tiny petals.
11. Yellow-Eyed Grass
The final yellow California wildflower we have for you is the yellow-eyed grass. This type of flower is known scientifically by the name Sisyrinchium californicum.
Growing to 9 inches tall, the plant that produces this gorgeous yellow flower is a native perennial herb that can be found on the North Coast.
It usually grows in moist areas at elevations of 0 to 2,000 feet. When it blooms, this plant reveals a bright yellow, five-petal flower that stands tall above the plant.
Each flower is solitary but the plant does produce multiple flowers at once. The yellow-eyed grass blooms between June and July.
That concludes this post looking at the best yellow California wildflowers. We’ve looked at 11 different yellow wildflowers native to California that can be found all over the state.
Our list could have gone on with more flowers but we’ve given you an insight into the yellow flowers you’re most likely to see on your next adventure.
All that’s left to do now is keep your eyes open for these flowers during your next adventure.