Chasing Wildflowers*

Theodore Payne Foundation Wild Flower Hotline

Large flowered phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora), San Gabriel Mountains, Highway 39. Photo: Madena Asbell

Large flowered phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora), San Gabriel Mountains, Highway 39. Photo: Madena Asbell

After a long dry spell, California’s hills and valleys, deserts, and shoreline are blooming again. Recent winter storms bathed the parched landscape with desperately needed rain, creating conditions for an outstanding spring wildflower display this year. While the statewide bloom season is long, extending from late winter in the desert through early summer in the mountains and along the coast, local effects may be fleeting.

Padre's shooting star (Dedecatheon clevelandii), Santa Rosa Plateau. Photo: Madena Asbell

Padre’s shooting star (Dedecatheon clevelandii), Santa Rosa Plateau. Photo: Madena Asbell

Thankfully, wildflower lovers can access the Wildflower Hotline through the Theodore Payne Foundation. Now in its 34th year, the free weekly report is released every Friday from March through May. The report contains updates about what’s in bloom—and where to find it—as wildflower season unfolds across Southern and Central California. Detailed location and plant identification information, along with beautiful photos, direct local wildflower seekers to the spectacle. Easy online access provides virtual visitors a peek into the wonder of it all.


A nod to the rollicking title, Chasing Wildflowers, a Mad Search for Wild Gardens, by Scott Calhoun, a talented writer and garden designer with a passion for the Southwest landscape. Wildflower devotees from any region will appreciate Scott’s account of where he went and what he found, along with engaging stories about what he drove, who accompanied him on his journey, what they ate, and the music they listened to along the way.

Scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell


The Theodore Payne Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding, preservation, and use of California native wildflowers and plants. You can access their up-to-date Wild Flower Hotline here.

Blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Thistle sage (Salvia carduacea), Antelope Valley. Photo: Madena Asbell

Thistle sage (Salvia carduacea), Antelope Valley. Photo: Madena Asbell

Scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Scale bud (Anisocoma acaulis), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Desert larkspur (Delphinium parishii), Joshua Tree. Photo: Madena Asbell

Desert larkspur (Delphinium parishii), Joshua Tree. Photo: Madena Asbell

Wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis var. villosa), Death Valley.  Photo: Madena Asbell

Wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis var. villosa), Death Valley. Photo: Madena Asbell

Giant woollystar (Eriastrum densifolium), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

Giant woollystar (Eriastrum densifolium), Eastern Sierra. Photo: Madena Asbell

California prickly phlox (Linanthus californicus). Photo: Madena Asbell

California prickly phlox (Linanthus californicus). Photo: Madena Asbell

Scarlet trumpet flower (Ipomopsis aggregata), Eastern Sierra, South Lake trailhead. Photo: Madena Asbell

Scarlet trumpet flower (Ipomopsis aggregata), Eastern Sierra, South Lake trailhead. Photo: Madena Asbell

Desert mariposa lily (Calochortus kennedyi), Joshua Tree. Photo: Madena Asbell

Desert mariposa lily (Calochortus kennedyi), Joshua Tree. Photo: Madena Asbell