California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora

California Plants is an essential resource for outdoor enthusiasts. With his vibrant photographs and lively writing, Matt Ritter takes the reader on a journey through the Golden State’s iconic landscapes and abundant plant life. This definitive guide features more than 500 species, along with detailed descriptions, fascinating natural history stories, and handy tree and wildflower color identification charts.

Advance Praise

“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 that will bring pleasure to anyone who picks it up.”—Peter H. Raven, president emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden


“If stories of place can be read in a land’s flowers, shrubs, and trees, then this book is your guide to the history and wonder of California; a compelling invitation to celebrate and preserve its awesome diverse beauty.”—Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor, Pacific Horticulture

About the Author

Matt RitterMatt Ritter studies cultivated trees and trees that escape cultivation. He has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a Ph.D. in plant development biology. He is currently a botany professor in the biological sciences department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and director of the plant conservatory there. He has authored numerous scientific papers about plants and contributed to botanical references including the upcoming second edition of the Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California and the Flora of North America Project. He holds a Kenan Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, is the Ray Collett Visiting Scholar at the UC Santa Cruz arboretum, teaches for the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica, and is the chair of the City of San Luis Obispo Tree Committee. Visit his website at: