Wild Flower Hotline FAQ

Wild Flower Hotline Frequently Asked Questions

Who brings us this amazing Hotline?

Theodore Payne Foundation members and donors have made the Wild Flower Hotline possible since 1983. In 2019, we also have the generous support from S&S Seeds. Please support the Hotline today!

Where’s the online version of the Hotline?

We try to get the online version on the website early Friday mornings during Hotline Season but… sometimes it gets delayed and won’t appear until later in the day. Thanks for your patience as you plan your weekend trips!

Picking a couple wild flowers won’t hurt, right? 

Enjoy and photograph, but don’t pick. It is against the law to pick wild flowers on public lands or roads or on private property. You can be fined for this. More importantly, picking wild flowers reduces the beauty for others to enjoy, not to mention the loss of seeds for next year’s season.

How do I report wild flower sightings to the hotline? 

Send an email to flowerhotline at theodorepayne.org

What exactly is a wild flower?

A wild flower is a wild, uncultivated flowering plant. Most people use the word wild flower to mean non-woody native plants other than grasses. This is the sense in which the word is used in the Foundation’s full name: Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, Inc.

Most wild flowers, or non-woody native plants, are annuals, completing their life cycle over the course of a single year or season. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are usually annuals. Other wild flowers, such as Hooker’s evening primrose (Oenothera hookeri), are biennials. Still others, such as blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) and Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana), are perennials, coming up each spring from a bulb or rhizome, then dying back in the dry season.

The word wild flower is also frequently used to refer to all native flowering plants of an area, including woody perennials, shrubs, and even trees. The Wild Flower Hotline includes these wild flowers in its reports, too.

Why don’t you mention nonnative plants, like mustard and filaree, on the Hotline?

Theodore Payne Foundation exists to raise awareness about California’s unique native flora, which is among the richest anywhere in the world. Although nonnative plants can be attractive, they take space, water, and nutrients away from native plants and can often be invasive. Our native mustards and filarees are routinely out-competed by European and Asian imports that spread rampantly and damage delicate ecosystems.

To learn more about invasive exotic plants, explore these links:
CNPS Policy on Invasive Exotic Plants
California Invasive Plant Council
USDA Federal Noxious Weed Program