California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Native Plant Program

cluster of many small purple flowers

Ceanothus maritimus, CDFW Photo by Jeb Bjerke


The mission of the Native Plant Program is to protect California native plants from extinction in the wild.

black and white photo of flower

Illustrations of Rare, Threatened and Endangered California Plant Species by Mary Ann Showers

Help California’s Rare Plants at Tax Time Donate on Line 403 of your California Tax Return. For more information on the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program visit Learn more about rare, threatened and endangered plants at or email © California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2013

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What are Native Plants and Why Do We Care?

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 not only because of their beauty and intrinsic value, but also because they are essential components of ecosystems and natural processes, and 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.

What are the Major Threats to Native Plants?

California is the most populous state in the nation, and the human population continues to rise. An increasing population increases demands on resources such as land and water, which are also needed by native plants and animals. Loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation are contributing to the decline of many native plant populations. For example, estimates suggest that close to 90 percent or more of California’s unique ephemeral vernal pools have been lost in the Central Valley and in other parts of the state. Up to 26 species of California plants may now be extinct in the state, and some plants have been so severely reduced that they are at risk of extinction. Human activity has introduced many exotic plant species that can outcompete and choke out native plants, and climate change will impact native plants in ways that are difficult to predict.

Where Can I Find Information on Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plants and Natural Communities?

218 species, subspecies, and varieties of native plants are designated as rare, threatened, or endangered 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 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.

What are the 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 Threatened or Endangered Plant Permit?

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

For more information on any of the topics above, please contact

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