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Catalina Wildflowers: What to See When You Get Out Of Town

photo by Cressita Bowman

There are so many gorgeous views around Catalina Island; its unique cliffs and bluffs, rocky and hilly terrain, numerous coves and beaches all lend themselves to majestic vistas—a sight to behold. And after a rainy winter, there’s nothing like the way that spring blooms into an array of beautiful colors of Catalina wildflowers all over the island’s interior hills and canyons. Catalina has more than 400 native plant species and 200 non-native plant species. The island is also home to 7 endemic plant species. If you want to explore the outdoors—whether you’re a novice hiker or an expert adventurer—consider venturing out of Avalon to see some of the most beautiful flora on Catalina Island. Read on to learn more about Catalina wildflowers:

Seasonal: Typically, wildflower season begins in March and lasts through May. All of the rain in 2023 might guarantee a few more weeks of colorful blossoms all over Catalina.

Morning light: If you’re headed out to see some wildflowers on the island, consider a morning or even an early afternoon excursion. The combination of light dew and soft morning light, as well as milder weather, can really enhance a wildflower-peeping experience.

Typical plant life: When it’s not wildflower season, the island is usually covered in woody shrubbery, heat tolerant, and drought resistant plants such as Island sage and a variety of cacti and succulents. This season’s rains have made the hills especially green and colorful.

photo by Cressita Bowman

Colorful wildflowers: When it’s blossom time, here are a handful of wildflowers and other plants you might spot on Catalina Island:

Blue-eyed grass flowers: These plants have six lovely petals with a star-shaped yellow center. The flowers themselves are small and a pretty bluish-purple color. These are dormant during the summertime, so be sure to catch them blooming in the spring.

Wild hyacinth (a.k.a. blue dicks): Wild hyacinth is a beautiful perennial herb that is part of the lily family. Many different parts of this plant were often used as food by Indigenous populations.

Western thistle: These bright pink blooms feature a feathery tassel on top. They can grow in short, low clumps, or they can grow up to 10 feet tall.

photo by Cressita Bowman

Arroyo Lupine: This native California herb plant flourishes in full sun. It’s another purple-blue flower, with an occasional white or pink patch.

Catalina Island bush poppies: While it’s technically an evergreen shrub, an abundance of yellow flowers bloom on these plants from spring into summer. Distinctly different from the California poppy, the bush poppies are a hardy plant.

Shooting stars: These herbaceous flowers go by many other names: American cowslip, rooster heads, or prairie pointers. Any way you call them, they are quite a beautiful plant with flowers that truly resemble a shooting star.

photo by Cressita Bowman

Indian paintbrush: The pretty red structures on this plant are not actually petals—as they appear—but bracts, a kind of leaf. The flower petals are a bit red as well. These happen to be a favorite plant of hummingbirds, though be careful: for humans, it can have toxic properties.

Bush sunflowers: Bush sunflower is a perennial sunflower, a lot smaller than its common cousin. These plants grow from a large woody root.

photo by Cressita Bowman

Mariposa lily: The Catalina mariposa lily is quite an elegant wildflower. Its petals are usually white of a very pale pink. Endemic to Southern California, it is a coastline native.

Morning glories: Island morning glory is found on the Channel Islands and along the California coast from Monterey to Baja. This woody perennial vine is a climbing plant with white to very pale pink blooms.

photo by Cressita Bowman

Don’t miss the forest for the trees: In other words, if you’re out looking for wildflowers on Catalina, you won’t want to miss out on spotting some of Catalina’s cool trees. Some of them include coreopsis, the Catalina liveforever, the Catalina cherry, the Island oak, and the Catalina ironwood.

Do you belong among the wildflowers?

Join Catalina Taxi and Tours to explore and enjoy the beauty of Catalina Island. You can plan to take a private tour in a 6-passenger Jeep or a van. There are a number of other tours to choose from as well.

A Picnic Tour will bring you to Haypress Park in the Island’s interior. In this secluded spot, not only can you look for island wildflowers, you might even see some wild animals. The Toast Catalina Tour can be a romantic way to see beautiful views and find flowers, or you can create a custom adventure of your own.

In order to book a tour, you can click here, or contact our office for more details. Customized tours are charged an hourly rate and subject to availability. Advanced reservations are recommended. Please call our Main Office at (310) 510-0342 for details and availability for customized tours. Reservations can also be booked in person Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) at our Main Office located at 228 Metropole Ave. in Avalon.

photo by Cressita Bowman

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