California native plants

California native plants

s. Some of them have extraordinary horticultural appeal, and have been grown in European gardens for over a century. California native plants are in rapid decline in their land of origin due to pressures from urban development, agriculture, overgrazing, recreation, and invasive non-native species. Citizen groups are at the forefront of a movement to save these plants from further losses.

The California Floristic Province, a geographical area that covers most of California, portions of neighboring Oregon, Nevada, and Baja California, is regarded as a world hotspot of biodiversity [] . According to the Jepson Manual [] , California is home to 5,862 species, subspecies, and varieties of native plants. This figure is comparable to the species in all the other states combined! (California also has 1,023 species of non-native plants introduced during the immigrations of the 18th-20th centuries.)

Of California's total plant population, 2,153 species, subspecies, and varieties are endemic -- they occur nowhere else on earth. This botanical diversity stems not only from the size of the state, but also its diverse topography, climates, and soils. Numerous plant groupings exist in California, and botanists have attempted to structure them into identifiable vegetation types or communities.

Common Trees of California

Among the better known California trees are the coast redwood ("Sequoia sempervirens") and giant sequoia ("Sequoiadendron giganteum"). The former occurs in the fog-shrouded coast ranges, the latter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Among conifers, California has eight species of fir ("Abies" sp] ), the Douglas-Fir ("Pseudotsuga menziesii" and Southern California's "Pseudotsuga macrocarpa"), the Incense Cedar ("Calocedrus decurrens"), the Lawson Cypress ("Chamaecyparis lawsoniana"), also known as Port Orford Cedar, and twenty-one Pine species, including the most well-known Ponderosa Pine ("Pinus ponderosa"), the naturally limited but widely planted Monterey Pine ("Pinus radiata"), the Bishop Pine ("Pinus muricata") and others: "P. albicaulis", "p. aristata", "P. attenuata", "P. balfouriana", "P. contorta", "P. coulteri", "P. edulis", "P. flexilis", "P. jeffreyi", "P. lambertiana"," P. monophylla", "P. monticola", "P. murrayana", "P. quadrifolia", "P. remorata", "P. sabiniana", "P. torreyana", and "P. washoensis". In the mountains are poplars - Quaking Aspen ("Populus tremuloides") and black cottonwood ("Populus trichocarpa"). Still higher are White fir ("Abies concolor") and mountain hemlock ("Tsuga mertensiana").

California is also home to many species of oaks, from giants like the valley oak ("Quercus lobata") to the shrubby leather oak ("Quercus durata"). The coast live oak ("Quercus agrifolia") is found in the coast ranges and many other parts of California, the mountains contain the California black oak ("Quercus kelloggii") and canyon live oak ("Quercus chrysolepis"), while the interior live oak ("Quercus wislizenii") is more common in the central valley. In riparian areas, trees like the Fremont cottonwood ("Populus fremontii"), California sycamore ("Platanus racemosa"), white alder ("Alnus rhombifolia"), and arroyo willow ("Salix lasiolepis") are found. Blue elderberry ("Sambucus mexicana") is found throughout the state. In the woodlands and forests west of the Sierra Nevada and in the Coast ranges are found Tanoak ("Lithocarpus densiflorus"), California Laurel ("Umbellularia californica"), Madrone ("Arbutus menziesii") and Toyon ("Heteromeles arbutifolia").

Common Shrubs of California

*deer brush or california lilac ("Ceanothus")
*manzanita ("Arctostaphylos")
*sage ("Salvia")
*coyote brush ("Baccharis pilularis")
*chamise or greasewood ("Adenostoma fasciculatum")
*service-berry ("Amelanchier alnifolia")
*creosote ("Larrea tridentata")
*flannelbush ("Fremontodendron")
*elderberry ("Sambucus")
*lupines ("Lupinus")
*gooseberry ("Ribes")

Common Perennials of California

Douglas iris ("Iris douglasiana"), monkeyflower (several species and varieties) and columbine (several species) are found in wet or moist places.Coyote mint ("Monardella"), buckwheats ("Eriogonum") and California poppy are found in drier places (California poppy may also be regarded as an annual in many places).Shady places contain coral bells ("Heuchera") and ferns (members of genera such as "Polypodium", "Polystichum", "Woodwardia", "Pteridium" and "Dryopteris")

Common Bulbs of California

Ithuriel's Spear ("Triteleia" sp.); Meadow Onion ("Allium monticola"); Ookow or Blue Dicks ("Dichelostemma capitatum"); Mariposa Lilies ("Calochortus" spp.); Goldenstars ("Bloomeria crocea"); and Brodiaeas ("Brodiaea" spp.) make up the major groups of native bulbs in California.

Blue Dicks is one of the most common native bulb species in California, found extensively in Southern and Central California, and into Northern California, in grassland and dry meadow habitats. It ranges from California to Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. Visit [] for an example of a stand of Blue Dicks in the Ojai Valley, California, which came up very thickly after cattle grazing had ceased.

"Calochortus" species are many in California, and often collected from the wild. This practice is illegal without written permission from the land owner, and has resulted in significant declines in populations of some species due to over collecting.

Common Annuals of California

* baby blue eyes ("Nemophila menziesii")
* blazing star ("Mentzelia lindleyi")
* California poppy ("Eschscholzia californica")
* Chinese houses ("Collinsia heterophylla")
* elegant clarkia ("Clarkia unguiculata")
* farewell-to-spring ("Clarkia amoena")
* meadowfoam ("Limnanthes douglasii")
* miner's lettuce ("Claytonia perfoliata")
* tarweed ("Madia elegans")
* wind poppy ("Stylomecon heterophylla")

Common Vines of California

* California wild grape ("Vitis californica")
* chaparral clematis ("Clematis lasiantha")
* western virgin's bower ("Clematis ligusticifolia")
* morning glory ("Calystegia" spp)
* wild cucumber, manroot ("Marah fabaceus")
* wild cucumber, manroot ("Marah macrocarpus")
* calabazilla ("Cucurbita foetidissima")

Common Grasses of California

* purple three-awn ("Aristida purpurea")
* blue grama ("Bouteloua gracilis")
* California fescue ("Festuca californica")
* Idaho fescue ("Festuca idahoensis")
* red fescue ("Festuca rubra")
* junegrass ("Koeleria macrantha")
* California melic ("Melica californica")
* deer grass ("Muhlenbergia rigens")
* Purple needlegrass ("Nassella pulchra"), the state grass of California
* pine bluegrass ("Poa secunda")


Web References

* [ California Native Plant Society]
* [ CalFlora]
* [ California Native Plant Link Exchange]
* [ Native Revival Nursery]
* [ Jepson Interchange]
* [ Las Pilitas Nursery Plant Database]
* [ Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants]

Books: Flora

* A California Flora and Supplement, Philip A. Munz and David D. Keck, UC Press
* Grasses in California, Beecher Crampton, UC Press
* The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California, James C. Hickman (Editor), UC Press
* The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California, Bruce Baldwin (Editor), UC Press
* Oaks of California, Bruce M. Pavlik, Pamela Muick, Sharon Johnson, Cachuma Press
* Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey, Linda Beidleman, Eugene Kozloff, UC Press

Books: Gardening/Landscaping

* California Native Plants for the Garden, Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien, Cachuma Press
* California Native Trees and Shrubs, Lee W. Lenz, Rancho Santa Ana
* Ceanothus, David Fross and Dieter Wilken, Timber Press
* Complete Guide to Native Perennials of California, Glenn Keator, Chronicle Books
* Complete Guide to Native Shrubs of California, Glenn Keator, Chronicle Books
* Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens, Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook, UC Press
* Growing California Native Plants, Marjorie Schmidt, UC Press
* Native Landscaping From El Paso to L.A., Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski, McGraw-Hill
* Native Plants for California Gardens, Lee W. Lenz, Day Printing Corp.
* Native Treasures: Gardening with the Plants of California, M. Nevin Smith, UC Press

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