Founded and incorporated in 1960, the Theodore Payne Foundation promotes the understanding and preservation of California native flora.

     Our mission is:

  • To promote and restore California landscapes, and habitats
  • To propagate and make available California native plants and wildflowers
  • To educate and acquire knowledge about California flora and natural history

Our Legacy

             "Wherever you looked or stepped, there were acres of purple owl's clover, yellow tidy tips and golden poppies."

-Theodore Payne (1872-1963)

Theodore Payne was born in North Hamptonshire, England and served an apprenticeship in horticulture. He came to Los Angeles in 1893 and fell in love with the California flora, dedicating his life to its preservation.

Even in the early years of this century, native vegetation was being lost to agriculture and housing at an alarming rate. He urged the use of California native plants and lectured across the state on preserving the wild flowers and landscapes native to California.

In his own nursery and seed business, which he started in 1903, native wildflowers and landscapes were his specialty. In 1915 he laid out and planted 262 species in a five-acre wild garden in Los Angeles' Exposition Park. He later helped to establish the Blaksley Botanic Garden in Santa Barbara, planted 178 native species in the California Institute of Technology Botanic Garden in Pasadena, helped create the native plant garden at Los Angeles' Descanso Gardens, and advised the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Orange County.

By the time he retired in 1958, Payne had made over 400 species of native plants available to the public.








"The rapidity with which the wildflowers are decreasing is most damning. If we do not begin to preserve them, the time will come when they will become extinct and live only in history.    -Theodore Payne, 1916