Seaside Coastal Wildflowers of Pacifica and San Francisco (Northern California)

Last spring, I spent time in northern California in the San Francisco area. This post documents some of the May and early-June coastal wildflowers I saw while hiking near San Francisco and Pacifica.

I saw dozens of different seaside wildflowers, but these were some of my favorites.

All are native to California, with ruby chalice clarkia, native to areas around San Francisco and San Jose. Beach strawberry was one variety used to create the garden strawberry. Coastal gumweed is a relative of curlycup gumweed, a native Idaho species, and California poppy is the state flower.

I saw three types of lupine, including varied lupine and coastal bush lupine. Varied lupine is one of the host plants for the endangered mission blue butterfly.

Other seaside native plants included coast buckwheat, seaside wooly sunflower, and coast range mule’s ears.

I saw many non-native plants, what some would call weeds, especially in the Pacifica area. In some places, weeds outnumbered native plants, especially on beaches where sea fig has taken over. Here were five non-native seaside plants.

Seeing scarlet pimpernel was both exiting (Baroness Orczy’s novel was one of my favorite childhood books) and disappointing because I learned the leaves can contain a toxin that can irritate your skin.

I took ambient audio recordings of the natural seaside soundscapes while I was hiking, and my favorite recording was of a Nuttall’s White-crowned Sparrow (a subspecies found in coastal California) singing on the beach!


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