Create Your Garden

Sun-Loving Native Trees for Northern California Coast

About 25 percent of the plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.

Native Plants, Native Perennials, Native Shade Trees, California Native Plant, California Native Trees, California Shade Trees

California has tremendous ecological and biological diversity. It contains offshore islands and coastal lowlands, large alluvial valleys, forested mountain ranges, deserts, and various aquatic habitats.

California is divided into 13 main ecological regions and 177 sub-regions. Unique in topography, soil depth, pH, elevation, light, and hydrology, each region provides a rich variety of ecological habitats, supporting many native plant species.

The Northern California Coast region encompasses:

  • The Coastal Lowlands ecoregion contains beaches, dunes, and marine terraces below 400 feet in elevation. Wet forests, lakes, estuarine marshes, and tea-colored streams are characteristic features of the landscape.
  • The low mountains of the Northern Franciscan Redwood Forest ecoregion lie entirely in the coastal fog zone and are characteristically covered by fog-dependent coast redwoods and Douglas-fir.
  • King Range/Mattole Basin ecoregion, which includes a mixed evergreen forest of Douglas-fir, tanoak, and madrone, as well as areas of grassland. Prairies and coastal scrub cover many of the headlands.
  • The Coastal Franciscan Redwood Forest ecoregion extends through Mendocino County from just south of King Range to just south of the Russian River in Sonoma County. This central redwood forest is more of a mixture of conifers and hardwoods. Vegetation includes a multi-story canopy of redwood, Douglas-fir, tanoak, bigleaf maple, evergreen shrubs, and various grasses.
  • The Fort Bragg/Fort Ross Terraces ecoregion forms an elevated coastal plain.
  • The Point Reyes/Farallon Islands ecoregion includes the Point Reyes Peninsula, Bodega Head, the sand spit at the north end of Bodega Bay, and the offshore Farallon Islands.
  • The Santa Cruz Mountains ecoregion covers the western and southwestern parts of the range where vegetation includes redwood, Douglas-fir, tanoak, coast live oak, and California bay, along with some chaparral and coastal scrub species.
  • The San Mateo Coastal Hills ecoregion with coastal scrub vegetation and a few small areas of cropland. Marine terraces, coastal benches, and small valleys are the primary landforms.

The climate in the North Coast Ecoregion is dominated by the marine influence of the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures average between 50-55ºF. Summer daytime temperatures are often modified by fog and sea breezes. Precipitation ranges from 40 to 100 inches. The growing season lasts 250 to 310 days.

The Northern California Coast region lies in Climate Zones 4, 7, 15, and 17.

Six counties make up the North Coast Ecoregion: Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz Counties. The largest towns are Crescent City, Eureka, Arcata, and Fort Bragg.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species. Invasive species compete directly with native species for moisture, sunlight, nutrients, and space. They displace and alter native plant communities, degrade wildlife habitat and water quality, and potentially lead to increased soil erosion.

The federal government has estimated that nearly 25 percent of the 20,000 plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction, many of these through habitat loss. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.

A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region or ecosystem without human introduction. There are many benefits to growing native plants.

  • First, these plants are better adapted to soils, moisture, and weather than exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world. They need fewer fertilizers, and pesticides or use less water.
  • Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitats.
  • Third, they support wildlife, providing shelter and food for native birds and insects, while exotic plants do not.

Here is a list of California native trees that are well-suited for plantings in sunny gardens of the Northern California Coast Region.

  • Never collect native plants from the wild as it will deplete natural ecosystems. 
  • When possible, plant species grown straight from local seed sources. These native originals are the best choice, as they co-evolved with specific wildlife, which supports migration, breeding, and other seasonal interdependencies.

Guide Information

Climate Zones 4, 7, 15, 17
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun
Native Plants California, United States

Recommended Sun-Loving Native Trees for the Northern California Coast Region

Acer negundo (Box Elder)
Aesculus californica (California Buckeye)
Alnus rhombifolia (White Alder)
Arbutus menziesii (Madrone)
Cornus sericea (Red Osier Dogwood)
Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)
Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)
Quercus chrysolepis (Canyon Live Oak)
Salix lasiandra (Shining Willow)
Sambucus nigra subsp. caerulea (Blue Elderberry)
Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry)
Umbellularia californica (California Laurel)

Discover more beautiful California native plants

California native plants

Plant Finder

Beautiful Azaleas and Rhododendrons for Northern California
Monarch Nectar Plants for Northern California
Sun-Loving Native Perennials for the Northern California Coast Region
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Northern California
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Climate Zones 4, 7, 15, 17
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun
Native Plants California, United States
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Northern California

Related Items

Please Login to Proceed

You Have Reached The Free Limit, Please Subscribe to Proceed

Subscribe to Gardenia

To create additional collections, you must be a paid member of Gardenia
  • Add as many plants as you wish
  • Create and save up to 25 garden collections
Become a Member

Plant Added Successfully

You have Reached Your Limit

To add more plants, you must be a paid member of our site Become a Member

Update Your Credit
Card Information

Cancel

Create a New Collection

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

    You have been subscribed successfully

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Find your Hardiness Zone

    Find your Heat Zone

    Find your Climate Zone