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California native plants dominate the grounds at the West Valley College campus in Saratoga. It’s an excellent place to appreciate a wide variety of mature plants in a garden setting.  Starting from the front of the campus, between the Administration building and Campus Center, one immediately encounters a huge bed of California fuschias fuschias (Epilobium canum)  interspersed with narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), salvia, coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), California roses (Rosa californica), and blue oaks (Quercus douglasii). When the fuschias begin blooming in late summer, this area becomes a hummingbird haven, filled with  a charm of these tiny birds zooming around each defending their own patch of flowers.

This huge bed of flowers is a wildlife magnet – in addition to hummingbirds, the area is rich with a variety of birds taking advantage of the nectar, seeds and insects. As can be seen in this picture, the flower stalks provide a perfect perch for a pair of lesser goldfinches to enjoy a meal of fuschia seeds.

Behind the Student Center, there is a patio where Redbud and manzanitas have been planted. A variety of native columbines and other flowers can be found in the flowerbeds that surround the building.

The section of Vasona Creek that runs through the campus has also been restored, and is a delightful place to look for wildlife – including brush rabbits, lizards and more. There have even been reports of bobcats in the area. You cCalifornia Fuschiaan find out more about this restoration project at:

A stroll through campus will reveal even more California natives. You’ll find specimens of blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens), deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), bush anemone (Carpenteria alifornica), buckeyes (Aesculus californica) and more. There’s even a small bog with carnivorous plants next to the Science building. Be sure to look at the huge blue oak tree in the center of campus – watch it carefully and you are likely to spot the acorn woodpeckers that are often busily at work in it.

The Saratoga Farmer’s Market is held at the campus on Saturday mornings – stop by and get some fresh produce and then take a stroll around campus.

This garden adjoins over a half mile of Capitancillos Drive in San Jose. It is a labor of love by one of the residents of the neighborhood, supported by other neighbors who live along the way. Started in 1995 with the planting of 125 coast live oaks by Our City Forest (, it has been maintained and filled in with an extensive collection of chaparral shrubs and plants. It blends beautifully with the Guadalupe Creek riparian zone, which is adjacent to the garden.

Backed by huge granite boulders and the meadow beyond, the shrubs and trees stand out nicely, yet seem to be part of the natural landscape. The plants are hand-watered until established, by Patrick Pizzo, who designed and installed this impressive garden. Lovely established specimens include a variety of ceanothus and manzanitas, sugar bush, spicebush, bush anenome, mountain mahogany, island bush snapdragon, coast silktassel, lemonade berry, sages, coyote brush, coyote mint, buckwheats, monkeyflowers, silver bush lupine, and much more. Plants are labelled, making it easy to find and identify specific cultivars.

The garden provides food and shelter for wildlife from the adjacent Guadalupe Watershed and Guadalupe Creek. Bluebird nest boxes maintained by the Audubon Society provide additional habitat in the garden.

Here is a plant list for the garden.



Directions: From Hwy 85, go south on Camden to Coleman. Turn left on Coleman, and left again on Redmond, then right on Oak Canyon Drive. Oak Canyon Drive becomes Oak Canyon Place. Continue to the cul-de-sac and turn about. The garden borders the meadow for 0.6 miles. Ample free parking is available on the street next to the garden.

A beautiful selection of mature and new native plant gardens can be found in Jeffry Fontana Park in San Jose. Wandering through the park, you will find plants from both northern and southern California in a variety of settings.

This is the perfect place to view plants that grow well in San Jose and find ideas for your own gardens.

From buckwheats to monkeyflowers to California fuschias, you’ll see something in bloom year-round. Many of the plants are labelled, making it easy to identify your favorites.

The two original berms were planted in 2011 as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees under PG&E power transmission lines. The plants are well-established and no longer need irrigation.

Five Islands


This garden was planted at the beginning of 2018, although the concept was conceived years before. In the words of Patrick Pizzo, its founder:

The concept of the Five Island Project was born about six years ago.  We wanted to create islands or berms much like the two that we first introduced into our park, Jeffrey Fontana, as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees, which have impact on the safe delivery of power transmission by PG&E.  You see, our two parks, T.J. Martin and J. Fontana are contiguous along the PG&E power transmission easement in south San Jose.  Our contribution, toward potential loss of trees, was to develop native plant and shrub alternatives.  This was our first effort.

Now near this island is an open area between heritage coast live oak trees, Quercus agrifolia.  Our vision was to have a network of islands/berms in this open area.  Neighbors wanted to have an alternative to weeds and summer dust storms.  The area is about 120 foot by 120 foot.  We envisioned five CA native plant islands in this open area. 

Part of the reason for the passage of time was due to the drought.  The City policy became ‘no new plantings’.  Then, a couple of years ago, with MFPA postured financially to support a major project, the idea came to the fore and I was asked to implement the proposed project.  During the four years leading up to this okay, we had been in multiple conversations with our Parks Department in San Jose about the Five Island Project.  About a year ago, we broke ground. 

The elongated islands are about 35 by 15 foot and of elliptical shape.  The spine is about 2 foot high, tapered to ground level, providing good drainage.  The native soil was removed or ‘dished’; and this native dirt (sand and adobe) was mixed with ‘garden soil’ from Evergreen Supply in San Jose.  It is the lowest grade of organic soil on the market.  The combined soils were used to create the islands/berms.  Each island is sponsored, to raise money to implement the project.  We have five sponsors:  East Bay Wilds, DGDG, Almaden Valley Nursery, PG&E and the past presidents of our organization: MFPA (Martin-Fontana Parks Association):

After forming the islands, plants were planted.  Each sponsor selected plants and designed their own gardens.  Directly after planting, drip-irrigation was installed.  We are using Techline drip line with pressure-opened emitters: 1 gallon per hour per emitter.  The emitters are spaced 18 inches apart.  I designed the irrigation system and will relate at the site-visit.  Currently, due to low rain (nothing Jan and Feb), we irrigate every 8 days for 1/2 hour and this is working out fine.  We have a variety of water-need plants on the island, by design, so it will be a challenge to fine-tune any summer watering.   The islands were planted from mid-Jan through the end of February, which worked out great as you recall the beautiful weather (minus rain).  The plants seem very happy with their new homes.

Additional information is available at:

Here is a plant list for the five islands.

Directions: The original two berms and the Five Islands area of the park is across from 1278 Oakglen Way, San Jose. Street parking is available.

By Jeff Caldwell

One of the best ways to watch birds is to find native plants laden with ripe fruits of the sorts they love to eat. They often come out in the open to feed, and when there is plenty of good food they seem more at ease with human presence, or at least much less likely to fly far away. About two weeks ago I was gathering ripe coffeeberry fruits and was astonished at what a good look I was able to get of the western bluebirds which continued to feed on them, or retreated but a very short distance, eyeing me as I eyed them! Yellow-rumped warblers were with them.

A very satisfying way to enjoy birds is to plant native plants which provide food for them. Many berrying plants attract birds. Some people plant non-native species such as pyracantha or cotoneaster for the birds, but native berries attract a greater diversity of songbirds and often greater numbers as well. The flowers, foliage, leaf litter, etc., of native species also supports a greater diversity and abundance of invertebrates upon which the birds will feed year round.

Some of the more useful berrying species are:

Mexican elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
Female house finch on blue elderberry
Female house finch on blue elderberry (Steve Rosenthal)

This is a common riparian species, sometimes found at the base of hills or in ravines. The fruits in early summer attract an extremely wide range of birds, such as quail, thrashers, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, orioles, house finches, and orange-crowned warblers. It is very easy to cultivate. It does tend to get large and can be rangy, but responds well to pruning. It can be cut to the ground every year (or whenever it gets too big) in its winter dormant season, and it will still grow up to flower and set fruit.

Hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
Holly-leaved cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
Holly-leaved cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) (Arvind Kumar)

This popular landscaping subject provides good bird food. The seeds may be planted where the plants are wanted. They are often planted as screens along property lines. They can be severely hedged, but it is best to allow them to grow at least 6 feet tall, or better yet, give them plenty of room to develop as specimens. For maximum value to birds allow them to be branched to the ground and allow leaf litter to accumulate.

California coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)
California coffeeberry (Rhamnus Californica)

California coffeeberry (Rhamnus Californica) (Arvind Kumar)

This shrub is particularly useful because it provides succulent berries in early fall. Many birds visit it year round for insects. It is an attractive foliage plant, easy to cultivate and grows quickly.

Brown dogwood (Cornus glabrata)
Brown dogwood (Cornus glabrata)Brown dogwood (Cornus glabrata)
(Jed & Bonnie McClellan)

This riparian species grows very fast with some water. It features lush foliage, bright blue berries in late summer loved by many songbirds, and some fall color as well. Small birds like to nest in it. To observe it with its associated birds in the wild check out the stands found along Old Page Mill Road in Palo Alto.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) (Arvind Kumar)

The bright red berries are the favorite food of robins and waxwings in winter, with more than 20 species of birds utilizing them for food. The seeds contain a small percentage of cyanide compounds, but nevertheless purple finches (seed predators) rip open the fruits to eat great numbers of them. In its season no berry is more attractive. The birds do not get "drunk" on toyon as they do with the non-native pyracantha which often results in tragedy if a busy street is adjacent. Toyon is very easy to grow. Give it enough room so that little or no pruning will be required. Very interesting insects, many bees in some cases, visit its early summer white flower panicles.

Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) and Shinyleaf barberry (Berberis pinnata)
Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium)
Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium)
(Arvind Kumar)

These are easy to grow and quite decorative. I will never forget how close I was able to approach Phainopeplas feeding on Berberis pinnata fruits at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. They were most reluctant to leave such a delicious feast.

Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) (Arvind Kumar)

In the cashew family, the fruits are attractive to birds that normally eat mast or insects, such as jays, woodpeckers, titmice, and wrentits. Poison oak is an important food for many birds, especially wrentits and hermit thrushes. Poison oak is not as hard to live with as some people think. Obviously it may be wise to clear it away from trails or heavily used areas; nuisance seedlings can be dealt with conveniently and safely with a mini weed wrench (a product of the New Tribe company).

There are many other fine berries for birds, such as thimbleberry, hairy honeysuckle, wild grape, blue witch -- any berry species is worth trying. Flocks of yellow warblers will come for Pacific wax myrtle.


Many of the books listed here are available for purchase during Chapter plant sales and programs. Members receive a discount. A list of books stocked by the chapter is available here.


DESIGNING CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANTS GARDENS: THE PLANT COMMUNITY APPROACH TO ARTFUL, ECOLOGICAL GARDENS. Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook. University of California Press (June 4, 2007). 352 pp, paperback. This book was created with the aim of conveying the awesome diversity and beauty of California's native plants and demonstrating how they can be brought into ecologically sound, attractive, workable, and artful gardens. Structured around major California plant communities--bluffs, redwoods, the Channel Islands, coastal scrub, grasslands, deserts, oak woodlands, mixed evergreen woodlands, riparian, chaparral, mountain meadows, and wetlands--the book's twelve chapters each include sample plans for a native garden design accompanied by original drawings, color photographs, a plant list, tips on successful gardening with individual species, and more.
CALIFORNIA NATIVE GARDENING, A MONTH-BY-MONTH GUIDE. Helen Popper. University of California Press (2012). 217 pp, paperback. Helen Popper is a long-time member of the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society and one of the first Gardening with Natives subgroup members. She was the note taker at the group's early monthly meetings, and this book is a compilation of the knowledge of the native plant society members from those meetings. Popper goes over some of the concepts in the book at a CNPS meeting.
CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANTS FOR THE GARDEN. Carol Bornstein, David Fross, Bart O'Brien. Cachuma Press (December 1, 2005). 280 pp, paperback & hardback. This comprehensive resource features more than 500 of the best California native plants for gardening. Written by three of the state's leading native-plant horticulturists and illustrated with 450 color photos, this reference book also includes chapters on landscape design, installation, and maintenance. Detailed lists of recommended native plants for a variety of situations and appendices with information on places to see native plants and where to buy them are also provided.
GARDENING WITH A WILD HEART. Judith Larner Lowry. University of California Press (1999), Berkeley, CA. 252 pp, softback. A compelling investigation into the whys and hows of gardening with native plants. Its engaging style mixes personal history, botany, anthropology, and ecology, and brings it all to bear on what you could be doing in your yard. This book has inspired many to practice restoration gardening.


GARDENERS' GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWERS. Kevin Connelly. Theodore Payne Foundation, 10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352. A personal take on wildflower gardening, with a focus on Southern California wildflowers.
CALIFORNIA NATIVE TREES AND SHRUBS. Lee Lenz, John Dourley. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Out of print.
SEED PROPAGATION OF NATIVE CALIFORNIA PLANTS. Dara Emery. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara, CA. 115 pp, softback. An extensive table lists germination and propagation requirements of hundreds of native species.
COMPATIBLE PLANTS UNDER AND AROUND OAKS. Bruce Hagen et al. California Oak Foundation, 1212 Broadway, Suite 810, Oakland, CA 94612. 69 pp, softback.
FLOWERING SHRUBS OF CALIFORNIA AND THEIR VALUE TO THE GARDENER. Lester Rowntree. Stanford University Press. 1939. One of the earliest and best written books on native plants. Worth looking for in used book stores.
THE LANDSCAPING IDEAS OF JAYS: A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BACKYARD RESTORATION GARDEN. Judith Larner Lowry. University of California Press, 2007. 292 pp, softback. Elegantly organized by season, this lyrical yet practical guide to backyard restoration gardening celebrates the beauty, the challenges, and the rewards of growing native plants at home. Judith Larner Lowry, winner of the prestigious John Burroughs award, here builds on themes from her best-selling Gardening with a Wild Heart, which introduced restoration gardening as a new way of thinking about land and people. Drawing on her experiences in her own garden, Lowry offers guidance on how to plan a garden with birds, plants, and insects in mind; how to shape it with trees and shrubs, paths and trails, ponds, and other features; and how to cultivate, maintain, and harvest seeds and food from a diverse array of native annuals and perennials. Working in passionate collaboration with the scrub jays, quail, ants, and deer who visit her garden, and inspired by other gardeners, including some of the women pioneers of native plant horticulture, Lowry shares the delights of creating site-specific, ever-changing gardens that can help us better understand our place in the natural world.
THE CALIFORNIA LANDSCAPE GARDEN: ECOLOGY, CULTURE, AND DESIGN. Mark Francis, Andreas Reimann. University of California Press. 1999. 254 pp, hardcover. The beauty, resources, and natural processes of the California landscape are brought to the home garden in Mark Francis and Andreas Reimann's fine testament to ecological gardening. The authors connect history, culture, region, and design to help us understand how California and its human population have evolved historically and how individuals today can make a difference in the state's future in their own backyards. The authors' goal is to bring the history of the California garden up to date with the ecological and cultural concerns of our time. Francis and Reimann use California's natural beauty and habitat as a starting point for inspiring Californians to see their gardens as extensions of the surrounding landscape. They provide essential information on native plants and wildlife, ecology and bioregionalism, landscape history and design concepts, as well as numerous examples showing how to integrate environmental principles in one's garden. Landscape meaning and regional thinking are an important part of an ecosystem approach to home gardening, say the authors. This is a book for anyone seeking a garden philosophy that is environmentally sensitive, and even experienced home gardeners, landscape professionals, and horticulturists will find new and useful material here.


GROWING CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANTS. Marjorie Schmidt. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 366 pages, softback. First published in 1981, this book is still at the top of the heap when it comes to books on native plant gardening. Written for the gardener, the book covers a wide variety of native plants, their characteristics, culture information, and estimate of garden value. This is a must-have book for beginners and experts alike.
NATIVE PERENNIALS OF CALIFORNIA. Glenn Keator. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA. 303 pp, softback. This out-of-print book is worth hunting for in used bookstores for its encyclopedic content.
NATIVE SHRUBS OF CALIFORNIA. Glenn Keator. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA. 314 pp, softback. A handy reference on woody native plants. A particularly useful section is the appendix on commonly available cultivars.


RELIABLE RAIN: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO LANDSCAPE IRRIGATION. Howard Hendrix, Stuart Straw. Taunton. 140 pp, softback.
DRIP IRRIGATION FOR EVERY LANDSCAPE AND ALL CLIMATES. Robert Kourik. Metamorphic Press. 118 pp, softback.


Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties .This publication is now available documenting over 2,000 species occurring in our two counties. The checklist includes the scientific and common names as in the 2nd edition of The Jepson Manual. Each species also includes the local preserves the plant occurs in, and other information about our local plants. Softcover coil bound (5 ½) x (8 ½), 161 pages.160 pp. The checklist can be purchased at our chapter meetings for $10 or by mail for $12. For mail purchase send an email to Toni Corelli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
THE JEPSON MANUAL: HIGHER PLANTS OF CALIFORNIA. James Hickman, ed. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. The final word on California native plants.
A CALIFORNIA FLORA. Philip Munz. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1681 + 224 pp, hardback. Obsoleted by Jepson, this reference is still a favorite of many botanists.
FLORA OF THE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA. John Hunter Thomas. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 434 pp, softback.
FLORA OF THE MOUNT HAMILTON RANGE. Helen Sharsmith. CNPS, Berkeley. 94 pp, softback. Out of print but worth hunting for at used bookstores.
FLORA OF THE SAN BRUNO MOUNTAINS. Elizbeth McClintock et al. CNPS, 909 12th Street, Suite 116, Sacramento, CA 95814. 223 pp, softback.
CONIFERS OF CALIFORNIA. Ronald M. Lanner. Cachuma Press, P.O. Box 560, Los Olivos, CA 93441. 288 pp, softback. Award-winning book on all 52 majestic evergreen trees of the state. A superb mix of writing style, botanical knowledge, and appealing presentation. It may be the only book you need on the subject.
OAKS OF CALIFORNIA. Bruce Pavlik et al. Cachuma Press, P.O. Box 560, Los Olivos, CA 93441. 184 pp, softback. An engagingly written and produced work on California's native oaks. Browse the beautiful pictures and captions, or read a chapter at leisure. A great first reference for identifying common oaks.


CALIFORNIA'S WILD GARDENS: A Living Legacy. Phyllis M. Faber, ed. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 235 pp, hardback. The breathtaking beauty of California's native plants is captured in over 500 photographs and engaging commentary in an all-color, coffee table book format.
WILDFLOWERS OF CALIFORNIA. Larry Ulrich, Susan Lamb. Companion Press, Santa Barbara, CA. 136 pp, softback. While not about gardening, this book will leave you marveling at the beauty and diversity of California native wildflowers, and wishing you could grow them in your garden. Detailed captions accompany each photograph, with the plant name and location, allowing you to plan field trips, or visit your local native nursery for seeds.


AN ISLAND CALLED CALIFORNIA. Elna Bakker. University of California Press. 400 pp, softback. A classic reference which connects the native flora, fauna, climate, and geography of each biotic community in the state.
TENDING THE WILD: NATIVE AMERICAN KNOWLEDGE AND THE MANAGEMENT OF CALIFORNIA'S NATURAL RESOURCES. M. Kat Anderson. University of California Press, 2006. 555 pp, paperback. John Muir was an early proponent of a view we still hold today--that much of California was pristine, untouched wilderness before the arrival of Europeans. But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra Miwok and Valley Yokuts Indians, modified and made productive by centuries of harvesting, tilling, sowing, pruning, and burning. Marvelously detailed and beautifully written, Tending the Wild is an unparalleled examination of Native American knowledge and uses of California's natural resources that reshapes our understanding of native cultures and shows how we might begin to use their knowledge in our own conservation efforts. Tending the Wild persuasively argues that this traditional ecological knowledge is essential if we are to successfully meet the challenge of living sustainably.


THE HABITAT GARDEN BOOK. Nancy Bauer. Coyote Ridge Press, P.O. Box 192, Sebastopol, CA 95473. 56 pp, softback. This little gem makes for a great beginning to gardening for birds, bees, and butterflies, with written and pictorial vignettes of habitat and food plants in bloom. Native plants are well-represented, although the book includes some non-natives as well. If you are just getting interested in bringing natives into your garden, this book puts it all into context.
BUTTERFLY GARDENING. Xerces Society, Smithsonian Institution. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco. 1998. 208 pp, softback. Essays by experts on gardening for butterflies, with many exquisite color closeups, master plant list, life cycle, photography, and resource list.
NATIVE PLANTS FOR CALIFORNIA GARDENS. Lee Lenz. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. 1956. 166 pp, hardback. Out of print, but may be available through used book sellers.

OUT OF THE WILD AND INTO THE GARDEN. Bart O'Brien, Lorrae Fuentes, Lydia Newcombe, Eds. Symposium proceedings. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Occasional Publications.
Part I, 1992, 212 pp.
Part II, 1995, 262 pp.
Part III, 1997, 134 pp.

This page compiled by Arvind Kumar, Jeffrey Caldwell, Tanya Kucak, Vivian Neou and Agi Kehoe. Send your comments and suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. CNPS database of native plants and associated butterflies and moths (both host and nectar plants). Searchable.

California Plants as Resources for Lepidoptera: a document that lists many moth and butterfly species and their host & nectar plants


Arbuckle, Nancy and Cedric Crocker (eds.). 1991. How to Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies. Ortho Books.

Caldwell, Jeff. Notes on Larval Food Plants of Some Bay Area Butterflies. 3pp.-xeroxed

Garth, John S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stewart, Bob. 1997. Common Butterflies of California. Point Reyes Station, CA: West Coast Lady Press.

Stokes, Donald, Lillian Stokes and Ernest Williams. 1991. The Butterfly Book: An Easy Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification, and Behavior. Little, Brown and Company.

Tekulsky, Mathew. 1985. The Butterfly Garden. Boston: The Harvard Common Press.

Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institution. 1990. Butterfly Gardening. Sierra Club Books.

The Gardening With Natives email discussion group provides a forum for those interested in growing California native plants -- in their home gardens, parking strips, school gardens, parks, and elsewhere.

This group is a forum for communication, for asking questions, and for offering helpful answers. Members come from all backgrounds, from beginners to experts. This forum is particularly welcoming of those new to native plant gardening; they are encouraged to join and post their questions.

Announcements of native plant gardening events in the Bay Area and around the state are also sent to the group.

This moderated group is open to all. It has over 1400 members, and traffic ranges from 3 to 7 messages a day.


California Native Hummingbird Plants

Originally by Ellie Gioumousis (revised 8/18/2019)

Hummingbirds seem to favor red flowers, possibly because bees tend to avoid red flowers resulting in more nectar in them. They also prefer flowers with tubular shapes, which are a perfect fit for their long beaks and tongues. Hummingbirds do not rely on nectar alone though; a significant percent of their diet comes from insects and arthropods, so leave the bugs for the birds.

Aquilegia formsa (Western columbine)
Will take sun or shade but takes more water in sun. It blooms in spring with delightful red and yellow hanging flowers.
Arctostaphylos (Manzanita)
Many species; blooms from January to March and is drought tolerant. Part sun to light shade. Berries provide food for other birds.
Chilopsis linearis (Desert-willow)
This small tree grows by washes and oases in the desert so does need some water. It has beautiful rose- lavender flowers and needs heat to bloom.
Cirsium occidentale (California thistle)
This is the cobweb thistle, a native. It has white foliage and a brilliant red flower and is not invasive. It grows in open woodlands in this area. It is an extremely good source of nectar.
Cynoglossum grande (Hound's tongue)
This is a native forget-me-not that is found in open woods and blooms in March. It is fairly drought tolerant when established, going completely dormant in summer.
Delphinium cardinale (Cardinal or Scarlet larkspur)
Beautiful brilliant red flowers on 2' to 5' stalks blooming from May to June. Needs good drainage, partial shade and regular water while growing. Goes dormant in summer.
Diplacus aurantiacus (Sticky monkeyflower)
This 4 foot shrub is covered with orange/yellow flowers in the spring and early summer. Both hummingbirds and butterflies love it.
Epilobium sp. (formerly Zauschneria) (California fuchsia)
Several varieties, but all have bright orange flowers which bloom in late summer and fall and are excellent nectar sources. They are hardy and extremely drought tolerant.
Gambelia (Galvezia) speciosa (Showy island snapdragon)
Bright red snapdragon-like flowers. It is tender to frost but grows back quickly if wellmulched. Produces flowers almost all year. Can be cut back in late February.
Keckiella cordifolia (Heartleaf keckiella, Climbing penstemon)
Native to southern California, this plant is works well next to fences or at the base of a tree or next to a large shrub. Bunches of red tubular flowers from May through July.
Lonicera hispidula (California honeysuckle)
This is a vine that is happy both as a ground cover or climbing up a tree or fence.
Lonicera involucrata (Twinberry)
Known as Twinberry because of the flowers and fruit that grow in pairs, it is easy and quick to grow but prefers some shade and needs regular moisture.
Malva (Lavatera) assurgentiflora (Island mallow)
This Channel Island native will grow 10 feet in one year. It blooms nearly all year with pretty rose- pink flowers that are valuable as a nectar source for hummers.
Monardella macrantha (Hummingbird monardella)
This small perennial has long red tubular flowers from June through October. It grows well in pots and rock gardens.
Like the sages, there are many different species and all like full sun and are drought tolerant. They usually require good drainage.
Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum (Red-flowering currant)
Many selections with beautiful pink pendulous blossoms in early spring. Light shade to part sun and some water. Berries are attractive to other birds.
Ribes speciosum (Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry)
Bright red fuchsia-like flowers in early spring. Light shade and some water.
Salvia (Sage)
There are many native species that are good sources of nectar. They are drought tolerant and take full sun.
Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage)
This sage deserves a special mention as it’s one of the few that likes shade and spreads by rhizomes. It has spectacular tall magenta spikes. An excellent groundcover under oaks.
Silene laciniata (Fringed Indian pink or Catch fly)
This is a pretty little plant that is unfortunately very attractive to snails as well as to hummers. It can be grown in hanging baskets to protect it from the snail's depredations.
Trichostema lanatum (Woolly blue curls)
Striking shrubby blue-flowered perennial native to the southern coastal ranges. It requires good drainage and no summer water. Has a long blooming period.

More information available on

by Sally Casey, April 1999

Full Sun Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Danthonia californica California Wild Oat Grass Apr - June To 40", generally 2½' to 3'
Danthonia californica americana Hairy California Wild Oat Grass Apr - May Shorter than species; hairy sheath
Festuca idahoensis Blue Bunch Grass Apr - June To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Festuca rubra Red Fescue May - June To 40"; open panicle
Hordeum brachyantherum Meadow Barley Apr - June To 28"; inflorescence a spike
Koeleria macrantha June Grass Apr - June To 24"; inflorescence an interrupted spike
Melica californica Western Melica Mar - June To 52"; generally 3'; dies down in summer
Nessella cernua Nodding Needle Grass Apr - May To 3'; inflorescence more delicate than N. pulchra
Nesella pulchra Purple Needle Grass Mar - June To 40"; generally 2½' to 3'
Poa secunda secunda Pine Bluegrass Feb - May To 40"; generally 24"
Partial Sun - Shade Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Bromus carinatus California Brome Annual - Biennial Mar - July 40" - 48"; open panicle
Elymus californicus California Bottle Brush Grass May - July To 80"; generally 6'
Melica imperfecta Small Flowered Melica Mar - June To 44"; generally 24" - 30"; inflorescence open
Melica torreyana Torrey's Melica Mar - July To 40"; generally lower, spreading; inflorescence strict
Muhlenbergia rigens Deergrass June - Sept Leaves to 2½' to 3'; spiked inflorescence to 5'; dramatic
Shade Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Bromus laevipes Woodland Brome Grass May - July To 3'; generally lower; inflorescence folded hand
Deschampsia elongata Slender Hair Grass May - July Low tuft, inflorescence to 40", generally lower
Festuca californica California Fescue Mar - May 3' +; open panicle
Festuca occidentalis Western Fescue Apr - July To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Hierochloe occidentalis California Vanilla Grass Jan - May To 36"; generally lower
Melica geyeri Geyer's Onion Grass Mar - July To 80"; generally 4'; bulbous base
Melica subulata Alaska Onion Grass Mar - July To 48"; bulbous base
Trisetum canescens Tall Trisetum May - Aug To 32"
With one exception (Muhlenbergia rigens), all of the above grasses are found between Route 280 and Skyline. Muhlenbergia rigens grows from Monterey County south, in the central valley, the foothills of and in the Sierra Nevada mountains east to Texas and into Mexico.

CULTURE: Plant 4" or gallon can size in late fall just before the rains. Use compost (but no fertilizer) as a mulch. March is the second-best planting time.

SOURCES: Most of the common names and blooming periods are taken from Thomas' Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California; heights are from Munz' A California Flora; modified heights are my local observations.

Locally Native Trees to Plant at Your School or Home

By Jeff Caldwell

With the possible exception of the coast redwood and white alder, most of our locally native trees deserve to be cultivated more often in the San Francisco Bay area. Many are beautiful and easy to grow--they are well adapted to our climate and soils. Native trees offer special values for wildlife as well.

Big-leaf maple is a very attractive species, and also fast growing--it deserves a place in more landscapes.

The gray pine is a quite ornamental tree in cultivation and more drought tolerant and more resistant to air pollution than most pines.

Contrary to general opinion, the valley oak and coast live oak, two beautiful heritage species, grow fairly quickly and are easy to cultivate. While ancient trees which grew to maturity under summer dry conditions may resent irrigation, young oaks adapt to garden watering. Indeed, under garden conditions seedling oaks may reach 25 feet in ten years--they actually grow faster than many commonly planted trees! Our native oaks deserve to be planted far more often than they are; happily, they are becoming more popular.

The California nutmeg is an unusual conifer and not difficult to grow, though a bit slow. Its needles are extremely sharp, so it should not be planted near a path.

Our California laurel becomes a stately tree. It is slow growing, but well-situated specimens are a fine gift to future generations.

The coast redwood is met with often enough in cultivation locally, some say too often. It would be refreshing to see it mixed more often in man-made landscapes with its proven companions in the natural landscape, especially Douglas fir, tanbark oak and California laurel. Other possible redwood companions include big-leaf maple, white alder, coast live oak, interior live oak, California nutmeg, black cottonwood, and madrone.

Many people long to grow the madrone, one of the world's most beautiful broadleaf evergreen trees. It has not proven easy to cultivate, but if you like a gardening challenge, try this treasure!

Two of our native trees regarded as "ugly ducklings" deserve to be mentioned here especially for those who garden with wildlife in mind.

The California buckeye has lovely structure, interesting fruits, spectacular flowers, exquisite spring foliage--but a decided off-season as the deciduous leaves turn brown in the summer; it is the first to drop its leaves. Its flowers are despised by some because their pollen is somewhat toxic to the non-native honeybee, but no flowers have more value to butterflies. In bloom this tree may be festooned with butterflies; we have seen seven species nectaring on one tree simultaneously! The tiger swallowtail, mourning cloak, California sister, California tortoiseshell, spring azure and many others visit this tree. It is easy to grow.

The blue elderberry is considered too coarse and "common" by many gardeners, but the summer fruits attract a wider range of birds than any other tree. Songbirds favor it highly for food and nesting. It is easy to grow and very fast. A stump-sprouter, it is amenable to pruning, which may help keep it presentable.


Native Trees of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties

Aceraceae (Maple Family)
Acer macrophyllum big-leaf maple
Acer negundo var. californicum box elder
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
Alnus rhombifolia white alder
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)
Sambucus mexicana blue elderberry
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Arbutus menziesii Pacific madrone
Fagaceae (Oak Family)
Lithocarpus densiflorus tanbark oak
Quercus agrifolia coast live oak
Quercus chrysolepis canyon live oak
Quercus douglasii blue oak
Quercus garryana Oregon white oak
Quercus kelloggii California black oak
Quercus lobata valley oak
Quercus wislizeni interior live oak
Hippocastanaceae (Buckeye Family)
Aesculus californica California buckeye
Lauraceae (Laurel Family)
Umbellularia californica California laurel
Oleaceae (Olive Family)
Fraxinus dipetala flowering ash
Fraxinus latifolia Oregon ash
Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Pinus attenuata knobcone pine
Pinus ponderosa Pacific ponderosa pine
Pinus sabiniana gray pine
Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas fir
Platanaceae (Sycamore Family)
Platanus racemosa Western sycamore
Salicaceae (Willow Family)
Populus fremontii ssp. fremontii Fremont cottonwood
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa black cottonwood
Salix laevigata red willow
Salix lasiolepis arroyo willow
Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra shining willow
Taxaceae (Yew Family)
Torreya californica California nutmeg
Taxodiaceae (Bald Cypress Family)
Sequoia sempervirens redwood



Ferris, Roxana S. 1968. Native Shrubs of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Press.
Hickman, James C. (ed.). 1993. The Jepson Manual Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.
Metcalf, Woodbridge. 1959. Native Trees of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Press.
Sharsmith, Helen K. 1982. Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range of California. California Native Plant Society.
Thomas, John Hunter. 1961. Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Stanford University Press.

Prepared by Jeff Caldwell (revised 2/98)

At the bottom of this page, find a link to a list of local professionals in the Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Peninsula areas who are dedicated to working with California native plants and providing landscape services in an environmentally responsible manner.The list includes landscape professionals who specialize in native plant landscape design, installation, and maintenance.

If your landscaping project requires the services of a professional, we hope this list is helpful. It is continually updated, so do check back regularly. Please note that this is an informational listing only and does not constitute a referral or recommendation. Although we are enthusiastic about providing information about local native plant professionals, we cannot take responsibility for the performance of any of the professionals listed below.

If you are a solicitor, please be respectful of this listing and do not cold call any of the names below selling services.

For further information or to be added to this list, contact Stephanie Morris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Directory of Native Plant Professionals


These gardens provide opportunities to see a wide variety of native plants throughout the year. 

Parks, Arboreta and Public Gardens

Jeffrey Fontana Park, intersection of Meridian Ave and Oakglen Way, San Jose. Across the street from 1278 Oakglen Way, San Jose. A beautiful selection of mature and new native plant gardens. Many of the plants are labelled.

Capitancillos Drive Native Plant Demonstration Garden, intersection of Capitancillos Drive and Oak Canyon Place. Extensive collection of chaparral shrubs and plants. Plants are labelled.

Ulistac Natural Area, Lick Mill Boulevard, Santa Clara. This 40-acre site was saved from development in 2001 and is the only dedicated natural open space in the City of Santa Clara.

Berger Native Demonstration Garden, 1553 Berger Drive, San Jose, CA 95112. The always-open Berger Native Demonstration Garden showcases a range of drought-tolerant California native plants. It's a great example of what a lawn-replacement project might look like. The garden was created in Fall 2013. 

Master Gardeners Parcel at Martial Cottle Park, , 5283 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA 95136. This 4 acre parcel includes a a thriving Native Garden.

Master Gardeners Palo Alto Demo Garden, 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (Eleanor Pardee Park). The Water Wise Garden (always open to the public) includes many California native plants.

Bol Park Native GardenThis public garden is in a Palo Alto park, Cornelis Bol Park. The overall design of the garden is to maintain a wildlands look and to provide wildlife habitat. It includes a large area of hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), California Buckeye, Western Redbud Fremont's Cottonwood and many others.

Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley Street, Palo Alto CA 94301. This garden includes a .3 acre parcel that features water-wise California Native Plants, including many Pacific Coast Iris hybrids that bloom in late winter.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Native Demonstration Garden, 505 East Charleston Road, Palo Alto. This very appealing garden is in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church; part of the garden was done in 2014 and contains mature plants, the other part was done in 2018 and contains much younger plants. The garden was designed with wildlife habitat in mind, and attracts various birds.

Primrose Way Pollinator Garden Collection, Primrose Way at Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto. On the area of about 20 by 200 feet, a couple dozen of carefully selected species of low-growing shrubs (e.g., Salvia "Bee's Bliss", CA buckwheat, ceanothus "Skylark", perennials (e.g., lilac verbena, milkweed, yarrow, goldenrod, bee plant, CA fuchsia, rosy ans saffron buckwheats), and various annuals (e.g. poppies, clarkias, baby blue eyes), coexist in harmonious arrangement.

Stevens Creek Trail, Mountain View. New landscaping is all natives. Plants include ceanothus, iris, fremontodendrons, elderberry, sages, native roses, buckeye, alder, and sycamore. Landscaping starts at La Avenida (off Shoreline, where there's a trailhead), then follows Stevens Creek for about a mile south to Central Expressway.

Portola Valley Town Center, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley. Native garden next to the Historic Schoolhouse.

Centennial Park, El Camino Real at Floribunda, Hillsborough. Mixed planting of drought tolerant species includes many California natives.

City of San Carlos Native Plant Garden, 600 Elm Street, San Carlos. This big, well-designed, and well-labeled native plant garden by the San Carlos City Hall is right between the library parking lot and the dog park. One area has a focus on hummingbird-attracting plants and includes hummingbird sage, manzanita, and monkeyflower. A second area is for pollinators and includes coyote mint, yarrow, and milkweed. A part-shade area shows off ferns and native iris.

Woodside Library Garden, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside. The garden (in the back of the library) is composed entirely of California native plants. It is open to the public during library hours: Mon-Thu 11-7; Fri-Sat 11-5. It is maintained by the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club. There is a brochure with a map of the different plants.

Regional Parks Botanic Garden. Tilden Park, Berkeley. The largest collection of California native plants, with plenty to excite the native gardener.

Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Contains a section devoted to California natives, the Arthur Menzies Native Garden.

UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, Strawberry Canyon, Berkeley. 200 Centennial Drive, #5045, Berkeley, CA 94720. (510) 642-0849. 13 acres of California natives.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Empire Grade, UCSC Campus, Santa Cruz. Large sections devoted to plants from California, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and a "Natives Come First" Garden.

Overfelt Gardens, Educational Park Drive (at McKee), San Jose. A section of this city park called "California Wild" is devoted to California natives.


West Valley College. 14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga. California native plants dominate the grounds at the West Valley College campus in Saratoga.

Native Hill at Foothill College. Foothill College, 12345 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. Begun in 1982 by former faculty member Robert Will as a teaching aid for students, this small patch of land grew to house 170 species within one acre of land. .

Cheeseman Environmental Study Area. De Anza College, corner of Stelling & McLellan (inside the campus), Cupertino. Over 300 species of native plants representing 12 natural communities.

Duncan Hall Botanical & Habitat Garden. San Jose State University, San Salvador St (near 4th St), San Jose. Planted in the mid-1980s, this 4,000 sq.ft. area is landscaped with natives such as lemonade berry, Brewer's saltbush, spice bush, coffeeberry, and toyon, and home to a variety of species of birds, bees, squirrels, and lizards. It was maintained by the Natural History Club. [No longer there - link has been retained since there is useful plant information there]

Mission College. 3000 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara. New plantings of natives.

A California Native Garden at Stanford. Stanford University, Palo Alto. Designed by Meg Webster and installed in 2002, this garden replaced a lawn that was surrounded by redwoods, giant sequoias and coast live oaks.


Gardens associated with schools may not be open to the public. Please contact the school for information about visiting.

Cherry Chase Elementary School. 1138 Heatherstone Way, Sunnyvale. (408) 522-8241. A small native plant garden is located on a piece of land right next to the street.

Osborne Nature Area at Peterson. A 2-acre site planted in 1970 with native plants from eight biotic communities. Peterson Middle School, 1380 Rosalia Way, Sunnyvale. 

Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School. A 1-acre site planted in 1971, contains redwood forest, oak woodland, chaparral, grassland, streamside and pond habitats. Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School, 1290 Kimberly Drive, San Jose.

Others (outside Santa Clara Valley)

Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden, Dillon Point Rd, Benicia, CA 94510. The garden covers 3.5 acres in the Benicia State Recreation Area. The Garden is an ideal setting for learning about native plants and how they may be used in home gardens and other landscape projects. 

Larner Seeds Demonstration Garden. A 1-acre site planted in 1980 with plants from several biotic communities. Definitely worth a visit. 235 Grove Road, Bolinas. Tue, Thu 10-2, Sat 12-4.

Pacific Grove Museum Of Natural History, 165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950. (408) 648-3116. Winter home of migrating monarch butterflies.

Asilomar Conference Grounds,
800 Asilomar Boulevard, Pacific Grove, CA 93950. (831) 372-8016. Worth a visit for the dune restoration project. The plant nursery includes a 960 square-foot greenhouse, which grows more than 400,000 plants, representing 25 native species for transplantation on the grounds.

Send your comments and suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This page originally compiled by Arvind Kumar with input from Bracey Tiede, Tanya Kucak, and Wendy Winkler.

Here are sources for California native plants in the Bay Area and beyond:

Call before visiting nurseries. All cities are located in California, USA. Also see the California Native Plant Link Exchange for additional sources for native plants.


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Annie's Annuals & Perennials 740 Market Ave.
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 215-3301
Retail and mail order nursery with a large section dedicated to native plants.
Bay Natives 10 Cargo Way
San Francisco 94124
(415) 287-6755
Wholesale and retail nursery with a wide selection of rare and endemic Bay Area native plants as well as choice species from across the state.
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery 1310 McGee Avenue
Berkeley 94703
(510) 526-4704
Retail with one section devoted to natives.
California Flora Nursery PO Box 3, Somers and D Street
Fulton 95439
(707) 528 8813
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail. Call for open hours.
Capital Wholesale Nursery 2938 Everdale Drive
San Jose, CA 95148
(408) 239-0589
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail
Central Coast Wilds 336 A Golf Club Drive
Santa Cruz 95060
(831) 459-0656
California native seeds, plants, revegetation, consulting, and habitat restoration for professionals and home gardeners.
East Bay Wilds Native Plant Nursery 28th Ave at Foothill Blvd
Fruitvale District of Oakland
Call for hours. Native plants plus demonstration garden.
Grassroots Ecology Native Nursery Foothills Park
Palo Alto
A wholesale nursery growing local native stock. Open to professionals by appointment.
Larner Seeds PO Box 407
235 Grove Road
Bolinas 94971
(415) 868-9407
Mail order seeds and California native wildflowers, perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Demonstration garden. Retail plants at the nursery from October through July.
Las Pilitas Nursery 3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
(805) 438-5992 
Mail order and on-site nursery. Planning tool gives you an instant native plant list for your ZIP Code, soil type, sun/shade exposure, wide variety plant purchases available. Deer problems link. Extensive native plants lists.
Linda Vista Native Plants San Jose.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
By appointment. Occasional public sales announced to their email list.
Mission Blue Nursery 1 Mountain Flora Parkway
Brisbane, CA 940056
(415) 467-6631
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Quarterly and by-appointment sales. Mission Blue Nursery grows plants entirely from seeds and cuttings collected on San Bruno Mountain.
Mostly Natives Nursery 54 B Street, Unit D
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
(415) 663-8835
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wholesale and retail coastal natives and drought-tolerant plants. Call for open hours.
Native Here Nursery 101 Golf Course Drive in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 549-0211
Alameda and Contra Costa County natives. Nursery is operated by East Bay CNPS for East Bay Regional Parks District. Tuesday noon-3pm, Friday 9am-noon, Saturday 10am-1pm.
Native Revival Nursery (831) 684-1811 Online-only. Wholesale and retail seeds and plants, contract collection and growing, revegetation and restoration. 
Oaktown Native Plant Nursery 702 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA
(510) 387-9744
Retail and wholesale. Offers contract growing for restoration and large landscaping projects.
Pacific Coast Seed 533 Hawthorne Place
Livermore 94550
(925) 373-4417 or (800) 733-3462
Wholesale or through local nurseries. Wildflower and grass seeds.
Payless Nursery 2927 S. King Road
San Jose 95122
(4080 274-7815
This independent nursery devotes a section to a varied selection of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Address your native plant questions to Wanda Olson.
Rana Creek Nursery 7480 Williams Ranch Road
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 659-3820
Native grass seed production and four-acre native plant nursery. Wholesale only. Revegetation, seed, container, and bare root plants.
Regional Parks Botanic Garden Southpark Drive and Wildcat Canyon Road in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 841-8732
Retail plants on Thursday 10am-noon. Seed is available in Visitor Center in fall and winter. April Spring Plant Sale.
Seedhunt PO Box 96
Freedom 95019
Mail order annual and perennial seed with hard to find selections and about one-third native
Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens 2660 East Lake Avenue (Highway 152)
Watsonville 95076
(831) 763 0939
Mediterranean, native, and water-conserving plants for California displayed in demonstration gardens as well as the nursery.
S&S Seeds P.O. Box 1275
Carpinteria, CA 93014
(805) 684-0436
Wholesale seeds, with $150 minimum order. 
SummerWinds Nursery 725 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-5136
Retail. There are several locations, but the Palo Alto store has the best selection of natives. Ask for Judith for assistance.
Suncrest Nurseries, Inc 400 Casserly Road
Watsonville 95076
(831) 728-2595
Wholesale only. See website for retail outlets. Develops new and unusual coastal plants with some natives.
Tree of Life Nursery PO Box 635
33201 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano 92693
(949) 728-0685
Wholesale and retail. Contract collects and grows. Round House Plant Store has plants and books for home gardener.
Watershed Nursery 601 A Canal Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 234-22225
Retail native plants. Contract collects and grows.
Yerba Buena Nursery 12511 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay
(650) 851-1668
Retail native plants with some seed. 


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Strybing Arboretum Arboretum and Botanical Gardens Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave at Lincoln Way, San Francisco (415) 661-1316 Saturday sales with one for natives in the autumn.
University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley (510) 642-3343 Autumn sale with some natives that are hard to find.
University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum Empire Grade at Western Drive, Santa Cruz (831) 427-2998 Joint sale with CNPS Santa Cruz Chapter in April.


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California Gardens   Extensive list of California native plants. Pictures and plant descriptions. Ojai, California e-business.
California Native Grass Association   Information packets, seed sources, workshops, website resources. Primary focus is grassland restoration, but resource list is broader.
El Nativo Growers Inc (626) 969-8449 Good source of information on natives in the landscape. Wholesale only.
The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants Inc. 10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley 91352 (818) 768-1802 Promotes and restores landscapes and habitats, propagates and sells native plants and educates about native plants. Sells native seeds in quantity.

Nursery Gate

CNPS SCV Nursery

-- founded by Jean and David Struthers

 Where ecology and horticulture connect.

The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CNPS maintains the CNPS SCV Nursery on the grounds of Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Volunteers propagate native plants throughout the year for the chapter's Native Plant Sales. Proceeds from plant sales are the major source of funding for chapter activities. To see what's available, please go to our online store:

An illustrated list from Calflora of all the species (this does not include cultivars) grown at the nursery is available here

Open work sessions at our nursery have been canceled indefinitely due to COVID-19.

You can check the weather at the nursery on our Bloomsky Weather Station.

For more information, contact the Nursery Manager, Vivian Neou at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can learn more about the history of our nursery here.

Directions: Hidden Villa is located on 26870 Moody Road Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. It is west of Foothill College. From Hwy 280 in Los Altos Hills, take the Moody Road exit and head west. Two miles west of Foothill College, look for the Hidden Villa sign and driveway on the left. Proceed over the bridge, and park in the Dana Center parking lot to your right. Parking is free for volunteers. The nursery is just beyond the Dana Center. 

The CNPS SCV Nursery was started in 1995 when Jean Struthers got a $10,000 grant from the Packard Foundation to build a nursery for the chapter. With that grant and the donation of some fencing left over from a Christmas tree lot, the nursery was started at Hidden Villa. The following excerpts starting from the July-August 1995 isssue of the Blazing Star trace the development of the Nursery.

Milkweed (Asclepias) is the primary host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Planting locally native milkweed in your garden will provide much needed habitat for these beautiful insects. There are fifteen species of milkweed that are native to California. The Nursery currently grows two of them. More information about California milkweeds is available from the Xerces Society.

Keep in mind that a single plant is usually not enough to provide habitat for butterflies, and providing multiple species of milkweed is better than one. In her book, The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, Nancy Bauer recommends including at least three plants of each species grown.

Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow-leaved Milkweed)

Native Bees with Narrow-leaf MilkweedAs one might guess from its name, this milkweed has narrow leaves that grow up to five inches long. They are fairly tall plants, growing up to three feet tall with multiple stems topped with clusters of white and pink flowers from June through September.

This is the most adaptable of the California milkweeds, growing well in both sun and shade, and tolerating both clay and sand. They even do well under oaks and can be found under them in the wild. With their striking flowers and long blooming season, these are ideal plants for any garden.   

They are perennials, but will die back to their roots in the fall. They reemerge from their deep taproot in the spring, putting out additional stems each year.

Although they are known for their relationship with the Monarch butterfly, their flowers are also popular with bees and other pollinators.

 More information is available at Mother Nature's Backyard and Las Pilitas.

Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)

This milkweed is native to the Bay Area and northern California. It has wide fuzzy grey to white leaves and spectacular 4 to 5 inch pinkish-white flower heads. It can grow three or four feet tall, although it tends to grow slowly and may take a couple years to reach full height. It prefers full sun and does not need supplemental water once established. 

Like narrow-leaved milkweed, it will die down to the roots in the fall. It usually emerges a bit later than narrow-leaved milkweed, so give it time to come up in late spring to early summer. The bloom period doesn't last as long - flowers tend to appear in June and July. However, the huge, gorgeous flowers more than make up for the shorter length of time.

More information about Showy Milkweed can be found on Calflora and Las Pilitas.


Oemleria cerasiformis (Oso berry)

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Oemleria

Common names: Oso berry, Indian plum

This underutilized plant can be cultivated as either a shrub or small tree. It grows up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide when mature. 

It is deciduous but forms bright green leaves in early spring. It develops flowers at the same time, with cascades of small white flowers appearing as soon as February. Bloom can continue for a couple months and is followed by fruit in late spring and early summer.

One of its common names, Indian plum, comes from its fruit, which resemble small plums when ripe. Its fruit is popular with birds making it a great addition to a habitat garden.

This plant is dioecius, which means that male and female flowers bloom on different plants. You must have at least one of each before the female plants will set fruit. Both male and female plants produce flowers, although the male flowers tend to be a bit showier. Some people think the scent of the male flowers is unpleasant, while the female flowers are said to smell like watermelon.

Oso berry prefers loamy soil, but will tolerate clay. In the wild, it is usually found in moist areas, and it will grow more quickly when provided with water. It is able to handle dry conditions once established. It prefers light shade, but can tolerate full sun.

By Melanie Cross, Chapter Nursery Manager

An issue that has surfaced in native plant nursery and revegetation circles this year is the appearance of deadly exotic pathogens: Phytophthora species, and lots of them. You may know of this algae relative because sudden oak death is caused by an airborne species, P. ramorum. The new pathogens that are showing up are water-borne. Susceptible plants at revegetation sites and other landscapes have been devastated by these “plant destroyers.” Unfortunately, nurseries offer the right conditions to cultivate and disseminate them. This is just what we do not want to do.

Skipper on Grindelia camporum

What's Blooming in the Nursery

Most of the time, these articles will be about specific plants that we think you would enjoy adding to your garden. But sometimes, we can't resist sharing the wonders that we see as we work in the nursery. This week the Grindelia camporum (Great Valley gumweed) was a pollinator magnet. Skippers, bees and flies (masquerading as bees) were busily feasting.

Of course, the parade of flowers didn't end there. A few of the others on display included: 

  • Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) - the Island Pink variety was eye-poppingly bright
  • Corethrogyne filaginifolia (common sandaster)
  • Dendromecon harfordii (bush poppy)
  • Diplacus X (hybrid monkeyflower)
  • Epilobium canum (California fuschia)- in addition to the usual reds, 'Summer Snow' brings white into the mix
  • Ericameria nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)
  • Eriogonum (buckwheat) - a huge selection of these wonderful summer and fall bloomers continue to put on a show.
  • Monardella macrantha (hummingbird monardella)
  • Monardella villosa (coyote mint)


Woolly sunflower, monkeyflower, elegant clarkia, and Cleveland sage in a Sunnyvale gardenDo you want a garden teeming with life? One that changes with the seasons? One that looks stunning? One that saves water, energy, effort, and money? Consider incorporating California native plants in your garden to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful plants will bring seasonal color to your landscape. They will give your California garden a unique sense of place.

This website is for gardeners and home owners who want to learn how to grow California native plants in their landscapes. Visit this site to find out about talks, classes, workshops, garden tours, native plant sales, and other events where you can learn more. Visit this site for plant lists and useful articles on the propagation, growth, and care of native plant gardens.

 Gardening with Natives is a special interest group of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. The group contains a mix of beginners and seasoned professionals, and is a great place to learn. Newcomers are particularly welcome.  Gardening With Natives maintains a discussion egroup where people can ask questions, get answers, offer advice, and stay informed about upcoming events. Sign up below to participate in this forum. Membership is voluntary. Email traffic ranges from 10 to 20 messages a day. You can opt for individual emails or a daily digest.


The fall Seed Exchange is held at the Peninsula Conservation Center (PCC) in Palo Alto. 

For other queries, contact the Gardening With Natives Steering Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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