Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Lasthenia californica, California Goldfields

California Goldfields has small bright yellow or gold-yellow flowers. Lasthenia californica California Goldfields has thin stems as shown here and grows to heights of about 15 inches (40 cm) or so. Lasthenia californica California Goldfields small daisy-like flowers have both ray and disk florets; note that the bracts surrounding flower heads are hairy. The fruit develops shortly after blooming and it is called a cypsela. Lasthenia californica California Goldfields bud and bloom from March or April to May. Lasthenia californica California Goldfields is an annual herb with slender green stems. Lasthenia californica California Goldfields dramatic spring blooms are directed related a very wet winter rainfall. Preferred elevations from 1,500 to 4,500 feet (457-1,372 m). Lasthenia californica

Scientific Name: Lasthenia californica
Common Name: California Goldfields

Also Called: Goldfields

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: Baeria chrysostoma, Baeria chrysostoma ssp. gracilis, Baeria chrysostoma ssp. hirsutula, Baeria chrysostoma var. gracilis, Baeria hirsutula, Baeria palmeri, Lasthenia chrysostoma

Status: Native

Duration: Annual, perennial.

Size: 15 inches (40 cm) or less

Growth Form: Forb/herb; tufted or low-growing form of growth, plants slender and mostly upright; hairy; occurrences generally tied to sufficient winter rainfall.

Leaves: Leaves green; leaves arranged opposite along stem; leaves are thin and divided into linear segments; leaves generally hairy.

Flower Color: Bright yellow, very small daisy-like flowers have both ray and disk florets; bracts surrounding flower heads are hairy (see photo above); fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: March or April to May

Elevation: 1,500 to 4,500 feet (457-1,372 m)

Habitat Preferences: Open areas, mesas and plains, often found in dry areas with poor (alkaline) and clay soils.

Recorded Range: California Goldfields is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NM and OR. Populations largest in Arizona and California; good populations also in southwest Oregon. This species is also native to northern Baja California and northern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Lasthenia californica.

North America species range map for California Goldfields, Lasthenia californica:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for California Goldfields, Lasthenia californica: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown

Threatened/Endangered Information: In North America, according to the California Plant Society (CPS), Perennial Goldfields,Lasthenia californica macrantha, has a California Rare Plant Rank: 1B.2; Rare or endangered in California and elsewhere. 2: Fairly endangered in California.

According to the CPS, Lasthenia californica macrantha is “threatened by competition from non-native plants and recreational activities. Potentially threatened by trail construction and foot traffic”.

Genus Information: In North America there are 17 species and 17 accepted taxa overall for Lasthenia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 19 accepted species names and a further 56 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Lasthenia.

Lasthenia was published by Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassinni, (1781-1832) in 1834.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and New Mexico each have 1 species of Lasthenia, California has 15 species and Nevada, Texas and Utah have 0 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 3 sub-species in Lasthenia californica:
  • Lasthenia californica ssp. bakeri, Baker's Goldfields, (CA);
  • Lasthenia californica ssp. californica, California Goldfields, (AZ, CA, NM, OR);
  • Lasthenia californica ssp. macrantha, Perennial Goldfields, (CA, OR).
  • Comments: California Goldfields is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NM and OR in large numbers but only if the winter rainfall is sufficient. With ample rainfall this species is found in large numbers carpets large areas with their small but numerous golden yellow daisy-like flowers. This is the reason for the common name “Goldfields”.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    California Goldfields, Lasthenia california, daisy-like flowers, seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents in search of food.

    Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
    California Goldfields, Lasthenia california, daisy-like flowers brightly colored flowers and plants may be visited by butterflies, moths and other insects in search of food and nectar.

    Special Value to Native Bees
    According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, California Goldfields, Lasthenia california, is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.

    The genus “Lasthenia” (Lasthen'ia:) is named for the Athenian girl Lasthenia who dressed as a boy in order to attend Plato's classes, 4th century B.C.

    Lasthenia was published by Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassinni, (1781-1832) in 1834.

    The species epithet california means of or from California.

    Lasthenia california is used for a multitude of purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Cahuilla Food, Porridge; Parched seeds ground into flour and used to make mush.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.
    Date Profile Completed: 10/8/2014; updated 08/29/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Baeria chrysostoma ssp. gracilis.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 08/29/20)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/29/20).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 08/29/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Raymund Chan & Robert Ornduff 2012, Lasthenia californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=3726, accessed on August 29, 2020.
    California Native Plant Society, Rare Plant Program. 2020. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (online edition, v8-03 0.39). Website [accessed 29 August 2020].
    Raymund Chan, Robert Ornduff✝Flora of North America; Asteraceae, Lasthenia, 1. Lasthenia californica de Candolle ex Lindley, Edwards’s Bot. Reg. 21: sub plate 1780. 1835 ; Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Michael J. Plagens, Sonoran Desert Field Guide; Arizonensis - California Goldfields, Lasthenia californica; - (accessed 08/27/2020)
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Lasthenia californica', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 March 2018, 00:05 UTC, [accessed 29 August 2020]
    FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editor: S.Buckley, 2010; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 08/29/20).
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 08/29/20)