Ecoregion Insights | California Coastal Chaparral Province

Photo ©

ECOREGIONS connect you to other places with similar weather, plants, and geographic conditions. These are important considerations when planning a wildlife garden or trying to understand how a place you live, work, or enjoy fits into the bigger picture.

California Coastal Chaparral Forest and Shrub Province

Southern California coast, 10,300 mi2 (26,700 km2)

Running along the coast of California this region has a combination of coastal plains, low mountains, and interior valleys from San Francisco to San Diego, with elevations as high as 2,400ft. (730 m). Described by some as an ideal weather region, the summers are hot and dry while the winters are mild and wet. Differs from interior California, in part, because a coastal fog common during the summer months provides some additional moisture. Still, like in many California ecoregions, fire is a major concern during the long, dry summer.While many valleys in this region have been converted to agriculture, or have been otherwise developed (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and San Diego all are located in this region), there are extensive mountainous/ hill regions too steep for other activities where oak scrub and chaparral plants dominate giving the region some of its characteristic plant life.  Ecosystems vary based on moisture and elevation, but include; sagebrush, grassland, riparian, shrublands, and oak woodlands.

Adapted from Description of the Ecoregions of the United States


Some important native plants that support biodiversity in your region include:

Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis) (more recommended fruit-producing trees and shrubs in this region)

California fushsia (Epilobium canum)

Looking for more plant recommendations specific to your ecoregion? Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s Ecoregion Guides for a great list of plants important to pollinators.

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Photo © Andrey Zharkikh

Each ecoregion seems to have one or more exotic species that end up being invasive in the region. These plants can cause a variety of concerns from choking out waterways, to changing the character of the forest floor.

Do you have it around?

Pictured above is one invasive of concern in this region, poison hemlock (Conium maculatum).

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in Quitana Roo, México.

Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Chris Helzer)

One threatened animal in your region that you might benefit with your conservation actions is the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) pictured above.

Getting to know your ecoregion can help you choose plants and understand critical issues in your region that may help you shape your landscaping choices.

A major conservation issue in this region is minimizing water use to ensure fair access to this resource. Read more about how to save water . . .