California Buttercup grows tall in woodlands and the chaparral. Blossoms can have over twenty petals. It’s as charming as its tiny relatives and brings areas of bright color to your garden from early spring to late summer.


California Buttercup ranges from California to Oregon. It grows on the islands off the Pacific Northwest coast up to British Columbia. It’s found at the coast, in forests and in the Sierra Nevadas. Its main habitats are open meadows and hillsides.


There are a few traditions associated with this flower. The most familiar is the childhood game of holding a Buttercup beneath someone’s chin. If the skin glows yellow, the person is supposed to be especially fond of butter. An interesting folk belief in Ireland is that rubbing the petals on cows on the first day of May encourages milk production.

Size and Appearance

This plant consists of multiple flowers with stems several inches long on a central stem that can grow to a height of three feet. The flowers have a pale green center, perfect yellow stamens and glossy petals with a silky feel.

The blooms are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. While not spectacular alone, the flowers on their central stem resemble dazzling yellow bouquets. They are lovely in small vases on nightstands and windowsills.

The grass-green foliage grows low on the stem. The leaves are soft and slender with multiple points.

In the Garden

California Buttercup is a fast-growing perennial. It doesn’t require much more care than cutting back overgrowth to encourage fuller flowers next season. Pruning any plant or tree must be done at the right time of year to avoid damaging the plant.

Meadow flowers like Buttercup should be planted with their wild neighbors. Companion plants often benefit each other by drawing nutrients from the other plants’ roots, attracting pollinators or simply providing a physical support for weak stems. This variety of Buttercup has a strong stem and can be the background plant for other flowers.

Companion plants for California Buttercup are Blue-Eyed Grass and Wooly Blue-Curls. The cornflower and lavender shades make a perfect color combination with Buttercup’s sunny yellow petals.

Sun, Water and Soil

Most drought resistant plants are picky about soil. This plant is not. It grows well in almost any soil, in full sun and partial shade and doesn’t require summer water.


The yellow flowers are very attractive to native California bees. This plant should be part of every bee, butterfly and bird garden. It’s important to consult your landscaper before cutting back the plant in the fall. Cutting back the plant too soon will interrupt the natural process of seeds drying, falling and reseeding.

Things to Remember:
• Don’t cut back this plant too early in the year
• Use this plant as a backdrop for shorter, less sturdy flowers
• This plant attracts native bees

California Buttercup is a great plant to use when starting a drought tolerant garden. Contact us today to get your plants in time for spring.