Native Plants / California
California Native Plants
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.
One of the tallest firs in the world, Abies grandis (Grand Fir) is a large evergreen conifer of narrow, conical habit becoming round-topped or straggly with age. Its spreading and drooping branches are densely clad with sharp-tipped needles, shiny dark green above with two silver bands beneath. The needles are arranged in 2 distinct, flattened rows. They exude an orange aroma when crushed.
A good choice for dune areas, Abronia latifolia (Yellow Sand Verbena) is a trailing perennial forming a succulent mat of fleshy, oval to rounded leaves. In late spring to late summer, showy snowballs packed with small, fragrant, bright golden flowers rise on sturdy stems in the leaf axils of the trailing stems. If given the proper conditions, it will flower most of the year.
Prized for its highly fragrant flowers, Acacia farnesiana (Sweet Acacia) is a semi-evergreen multi-trunked shrub or small tree with a naturally spreading, vaselike shape. Its zig-zag stems are fully armed with sharp thorns and clad with feathery, finely divided leaflets of soft green color. Clouds of small, bright golden-yellow, puff-like flowers, 1/2 in. (1 cm), appear in clusters in late winter to early spring, then sporadically after each new flush of growth, providing a long-lasting floral display.
Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) is most commonly grown as a spreading bushy large shrub, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree. Low-branched, multi-stemmed in habit, it usually develops multi-trunks with bright, reddish-green bark. Upright in sunny locations, it takes a delicate horizontal habit in the shade.
Popular on the Pacific Coast, Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) is a large deciduous tree of upright habit with a broad, rounded crown of massive, spreading branches, steeply inclined at the tips. Emerging burgundy in spring, the deeply-lobed leaves, up to 12 in. across (30 cm), mature to dark green before turning brilliant shades of orange and yellow in the fall. These leaves are the biggest ever found on any species of maple, hence the common name.
Hardy and fast-growing, Acer negundo (Box Elder) is a suckering, vigorous, deciduous tree of upright habit with an irregular rounded canopy of widely spreading branches. The opposite, pinnately compound, light green leaves are composed of 3-7 leaflets, 6-15 in. long (15-37 cm), which turn a dull yellow in the fall.
Acmispon glaber (Deerweed) is a perennial or subshrub with many long, flexible green branches arising from a woody base. The branches boast arching sprays of bright yellow pea-like flowers, sometimes adorned with a red splotch on the back of the banner. Blooming from early spring to late summer, the blossoms are borne in 2-7 umbellate inflorescences in the axils of the leaves.
Perfect for shade gardens, Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) is herbaceous perennial forming bushy clumps of finely divided, bright green foliage, enhanced by clusters of small fluffy white flowers in late spring and early summer. Borne on conspicuous red stems which rise above the foliage, they give way to pea-sized glossy scarlet berries in summer.
Incredibly attractive, Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern) is a deciduous or semi-evergreen, perennial fern with graceful, bright green fronds which open like the fingers of a hand atop upright, shiny, purple-black wiry stems. Each finger is further divided into a series of triangular segments (pinnules).
Adiantum capillus-veneris (Southern Maidenhair Fern) is a slowly spreading, semi-evergreen fern forming a mound of gently arching or pendant, twice divided, delicate fronds adorned with wiry, black stems.
Adiantum jordanii (California Maidenhair) is a slowly spreading, evergreen fern forming a fountain of gently arching or pendant, twice divided, delicate fronds adorned with wiry, dark brown to black stems. The light green leaflets are round or fan-shaped, slightly lobed, and finely toothed. The fronds arise in clusters from a short creeping rhizome. California Maidenhairn is an excellent choice for the woodland garden.
Aesculus californica (California Buckeye) is a deciduous large shrub or small tree with an open somewhat flattened canopy that holds attractive palmately compound leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. Emerging pale apple green, the leaves mature to lustrous dark green leaves.
Robust and long-lived, Agastache urticifolia (Nettleleaf Giant Hyssop) is a tall, herbaceous, strongly aromatic, perennial boasting dense flowering spikes, 6 in. long (15 cm), packed with tiny, white to rose or violet flowers with protruding stamens. Blooming in early to late summer, they are borne atop stout, square, glabrous leafy stems. They are a nectar source for many bees, moths, hummingbirds and butterflies, including monarch butterflies.