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 in 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 less fertilizers, pesticides or use less water. Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitat. 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 a 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. Beautifully colored in most seasons, its broad foliage canopy, elegantly displayed in tiered pattern, emerges bright green in spring and warms up to attractive shades of orange and red in the fall.
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.
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.
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.
Particularly stunning when lit by the morning or late afternoon sun, Agave shawii (Coastal Agave) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming a rosette of fleshy, sword-shaped, green leaves which radiate gracefully from the center of the plant, giving it a neat and rounded shape. They are lined with gray spines which exhibit coral, gold, pink or red shades when backlit, adding intriguing beauty.
Allium Unifolium (Oneleaf Onion) is a compact perennial with delicate clusters of up to 30 fairly large, star-shaped, satiny, rose-pink flowers. The blossoms are borne atop the foliage of short gray-green basal leaves. Blooming in late spring to early summer, this charming Allium spreads freely in the garden without being a pest.