Native Plants

A grid of 16 square images showing native California plants and habitats, including a green woodland with a rare grass, a close-up of an iris flower with dew, a subalpine meadow with paintbrush flowers, a field of tidy tip flowers, a close-up of a pink Clarkia flower, a white orchid, a field of purple lupine, a close-up of a rare birds-beak plant, an umbel of flowers with sun shining through them, a rare beach Layia plant, a close-up of a seepspring monkeyflower, a pink hemiparisitic plant, a grassland near an oak woodland, cactus spines, a close-up of meadow rue flowers, and a close-up of a leopard lily flower

Why We Care About Native Plants

California hosts approximately 6,500 species, subspecies, and varieties of plants that occur naturally in the state, and many of these are found nowhere else in the world. Some are adapted to unique habitats or harsh conditions, and some occur in such low numbers or have been so impacted by human influence that they are at risk of permanent extinction from the wild. California’s native plants should be conserved because of their beauty and intrinsic value, because they are essential components of ecosystems and natural processes, and because they provide us with valuable renewable materials and other benefits. CDFW administers programs to study, map, conserve and protect California’s native plants and natural communities.

Coast yellow leptosiphon Bjerke
Coast yellow leptosiphon (Leptosiphon croceus) was designated an endangered species in 2019.

California Laws Protecting Native Plants

Some native plants are protected by California law. Information on important California laws for native plant protection can be found from the links below.

Do I Need a Plant Permit?

The killing or possession of California rare, threatened or endangered plant species is prohibited by California law, however CDFW may issue permits authorizing the killing or possession of these species under certain circumstances, such as for scientific, educational or management purposes.

Information on Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plants and Natural Communities

222 species, subspecies, and varieties of native plants are designated as rare, threatened, or endangered (PDF) by state law, and over 2,000 more plant taxa are considered to be of conservation concern. Many of these species are the target of conservation and mapping efforts by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and CDFW has created survey protocols (PDF) for rare, threatened, and endangered plant species and natural communities. CDFW also works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to administer federal Section 6 grants for plant research, and partners with botanic gardens for off-site conservation of plants. Species lists, status reports, and additional information on rare, threatened, and endangered plant species are available from the link below.

Lassics lupine in cage small
Lassics lupine (Lupinus constancei) was designated an endangered species in 2019.

For more information on any of the topics above, please contact the Native Plant Program at

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