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Hotline Alert: How To Find California Wildflowers This Season

Two people walk on a path beside a large field of wild poppies. Rolling hills are in the background.
People walk on a trail in Malibu with new vegetation and wildflowers in 2019.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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Spring is in full swing — though it’s felt like summer this week — and while it’s California’s driest start to a year on record, there are still ways to see Southern California wildflowers blooming.

In prior years, California has seen super blooms of wild poppies, but that’s impeded this year by the state’s drought problems.

Evan Meyer of the Theodore Payne Foundation, which promotes the education and preservation of native plants, said while there will be no spectacular super blooms this year, there are still plenty of wildflowers to see.

“There’s all these little micro habitats and micro climates where you can go and find flowers even on dry years,” Meyer said.

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People visit a super bloom of wild poppies in the hills of Walker Canyon on March 12, 2019 near Lake Elsinore, California.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)

To help find where these micro-habitats and climates are, the Foundation runs a wildflower hotline every year from March to May. People can call to find out where to see some of SoCal’s most beautiful blooms by calling (818) 768-1802.

“[You] go up to certain parts of the desert or you go to certain mountain ranges where they just anomalously got a little more rain than other places,” Meyer said.

Each individual flower has something to offer, Meyer said, though he understands he might be a little biased.

“We botanists and horticulturists, we tend to be maybe a little nerdy at times,” he said. “And you'll find the real hardcore folks stopping lying on their belly with their magnifying glass looking at the tiniest flowers. There’s a joke that when botanists go to hike, they never leave the parking lot.”

So if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the array of colors, make sure to follow etiquette in nature.

The foundation recommends that stay on designated paths, standing on bare ground, leaving the flowers alone and only taking photographs. That means no souvenirs, folks!

What questions do you have about Southern California?