California Native Plants That Attract Butterflies

When planning a garden of native California plants, it's easy to add many that are attractive to butterflies, bringing these lovely pollinators to your garden. These are often fruit-bearing trees and flowering plants.


Plum and other fruit trees are often attractive to butterflies. The only variety of plum tree native to California is the Pacific Coast plum, also called the Sisson plum or Prunus subcordata. The chokecherry tree is closely related to the plum and also will attract butterflies. There are several varieties of chokecherry present in California; those that are native are the California, black and western chokecherries. The holly leaf cherry, the currant or gooseberry, the coffeeberry and the cassia all are also butterfly attractant trees. Oak, willow and sycamore round out this group.


Among shrubs that are native to California, butterflies are attracted to the nectars of California lilac, bladderpod and coyote bush. Other shrubs that host butterflies include the false indigo bush and tree mallow.


The major annual plant that attracts butterflies is the lupine, native in many parts of California. This class of flowering plants includes Alpine lupine, silver bush and yellow bush lupines, and arroyo and chick lupines, in varying parts of the state. "Chinese Houses" is another annual butterfly host plant, often found growing wild in California.


There are many perennial flowers, grasses and plants that will attract butterflies and are native to California. Butterflies feed on nectar from yarrow, milkweed, buckwheat, golden yarrow, coast goldenbush, deerweed, coyote mint, sage, goldenrod, lilac verbena and San Diego sunflower. Monkeyflower also is a popular California butterfly host plant.

Keywords: California native plants, butterfly attractant, butterfly garden

About this Author

Kim Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University.