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The definitive guide for exploring California's spectacular plants

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"Much more than a guide, this book opens eyes to the subtle beauty of our state’s flora with inspiring photographs and memorable stories. Every resident or visitor to California can benefit from reading this approachable, beautiful, and informative book."

-Susan Van Atta, Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects

"Pick up this beautiful book and let Matt Ritter guide you through the gloriously diverse native plants of California with his gifts of wisdom, artistry, and accessible smarts. It will open your eyes and give you a new way to love California."

-Flora Grubb, Owner of Flora Grubb Gardens


There are more than 5,000 native species in California — one in five of which are now rare or endangered. California Governor Jerry Brown writes in the book’s foreword, “Matt Ritter teaches us to better understand how our future is linked to that of all other living things: our soil, our microbiota, and our wonderful and indomitable native plants.”

"The thrill I felt growing up among the gorgeous plants of California returned when I first opened the beautiful pages of this book - a call to love, enjoy, and preserve California's plants. This book will bring pleasure to anyone who picks it up."

-Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden


A portion of the proceeds from each book supports the California Native Plant Society and The Wildlands Conservancy.




Dr. Matt Ritter grew up in rural Mendocino County, California. After earning a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from U.C. Santa Barbara, he attended U.C. San Diego for a Ph.D. in plant biology. He’s a botany professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, where he lives with his wife and two children. He’s the author of several books, including the funniest and best-selling guide to California’s urban forest, A Californian’s Guide to the Trees among Us (Heyday, 2011). His writing has appeared in several magazines, including a regular column on tree diversity in Pacific Horticulture. He won the Cal Poly Excellence in Teaching Award and the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture Award for Excellence in Education. He studies California’s native plants and trees that escape cultivation, particularly Eucalyptus. He’s an avid woodworker, mason, and gardener.

  • Over 300 pages with more than 500 species described or photographed
  • More than 1,000 full-color photographs and 150 species range maps
  • Detailed descriptions and fascinating natural history stories
  • California tree identification flowchart
  • Wildflower identification color guide
  • Detailed glossary and comprehensive index

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