Flora of California

Cismontane Southern California

Coastal Sage Scrub


Below 2000' and often close to the ocean. Plants do not tolerate frost.

On S slopes, plants are usually drought deciduous shrubs with small leaves that grow no higher than 6'-8', but often less.

On N slopes, plants are evergreen, have larger leaves, and can grow to 15'.

south slope north slope
California Sagebrush
Coast Brittlebrush
Bush Monkeyflower
Black Sage
Purple Sage
White Sage
Coastal Cholla
Laurel Sumac
Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry

California Sagebrush, Artemisia californica; grayish shrub 2'–6'; drought deciduous,leaves thin, covered with fine hairs, clustered at axils; racemose panicle of white or yellowish flowers, Aug-Dec.

Coast Brittlebush, Encelia california; shrub to 5'; leaves simple, alternate, 1"–2", drought deciduous; flowers single, showy sunflowers, 1" wide, Feb-Jun.

Bush Monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus; erect shrub to 4'; oblong, opposite, 1"–2" leaves, drought decidous; 1 or more flowers in upper axils, tubular, white, yellow, orange, or red; Mar-Aug.

Black Sage, Salvia mellifera; shrub to 5'; leaves 1"–3", opposite, puckered above, hairy beneath; flowers white, lilac, or light blue, Apr-Jul.

Purple Sage, Salvia leucophylla; shrub to 6';

White Sage, Saliva apiana; shrub to 8';

Prickly-pear, Opuntia occidentalis;

Coastal Cholla, Opuntia prolifera;

Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia; shrub or multistemmed tree to 15'; alternate, leathery, evergreen leaves 2"–4", toothed margins; white flowers in terminal clusters, Jun-Jul; red berries persist thru winter.

Laurel Sumac, Malosma laurina; shrub or tree to 16'; alternate, evergreen, aromatic leaves 2"–4", smooth w/ reddish veins; white flowers in dense terminal clusters, Jun-Jul.

Southern Oak Woodland

Deep, well-drained soils that occur as islands within coastal sage scrub. Also canyons and north slopes within chaparral.

Coast Live Oak is found below 5000'. Canyon Live Oak can be found as high as 9000'.

Lower (Warm) Chaparral


1000' to 5000' elevation. Plants tolerate frost, but not persistent snow.

south slope north slope
California Lilac
Scrub Oak
Holly-leaved Redberry
Holly-leaved Cherry

Riparian Woodland

Western Sycamore, Plantanus racemosa; erect or leaning, sometimes multistemmed tree to 80'; darker bark peals away in patches to reveal lighter bark underneath; leaves 3"–5", 3 to 5 palmate lobes; tiny unisexual flowers in small clusters; fruit 1" cluster of hairy achenes.

Black Willow, Salix gooddingii; tree to 100'; yellowish twigs;

Red Willow, Salix laevigata; tree to 45'; reddish twigs; glossy leaves 2"–6".

Shining Willow, Salix lucida; tree to 60'

Black Cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa; tree to 125'.

White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia;

Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii; tree to 100'; leaves w/ scalloped margins; more drought hardy and less shade tolerant than P. trichocarpa, which replaces it near the coast and at higher elevations.

Upper (Cold) Chaparral

4000' to 6000' elevation. Snow persists in the winter. Plants recover slowly from fire.

south slope north slope
Silk-tassel Bush
Birch-leaf Mountain Mahogany
Big-cone Douglas Fir
Coulter Pine

Yellow Pine Forest

5000' to 9000' elevation.

  • Jeffrey Pine
  • Incense Cedar
  • California Black Oak
  • Sugar Pine
  • White Fir
  • Ponderosa Pine

Lodgepole Pine Forest

8000' to 10500' elevation.

  • Lodgepole Pine
  • Limber Pine

Sierra Nevada

Foothill Woodland

Yellow Pine Forest

Lodgepole / Red Fir Forest

Subalpine Forest


Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

Sagebrush Scrub

Shadscale Scrub

Mojave Desert

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

Desert Chaparral

Joshua Tree Woodland

  • Joshua Tree

Creosote Bush Scrub

  • Creosote Bush
  • Bur-sage

Saltbush Scrub

  • Shadscale
  • Winter Fat
  • Bud Sagebrush

Alkali Sink

  • Cattle Spinach
  • Wingscale
  • Honey Mesquite
  • Inkweed
  • Iodine Bush
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