Plant Information

Share

1. Creek dogwood (Cornus sericea)


Habitat: Deep canyon
This wide-spreading shrub loses its leaves in autumn, revealing the colorful red stems. Some Native Americans use them to make baskets. The creamy white flowers attract insects and the white to blue-tinged fruits attract birds.

2. California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

Habitat: Coastal sage scrub and chaparral
The most widespread shrubby buckwheat in California, this species has needle-like, evergreen leaves and masses of creamy white flowers in summer that provide nectar for butterflies and other beneficial insects. They turn rusty brown in fall and the seeds are eaten by birds.

3. White sage (Salvia apiana)


Habitat: Coastal sage scrub and chaparral
This striking shrub has highly aromatic leaves that, when dried, can be burned as incense. Bees make a flavorful honey from the showy white flowers. In the garden, the large leaves and tall flower stalks add drama to a dry garden.

4. Saltbush or Quail bush (Atriplex lentiformis)


Habitat
: Coastal sage scrub
Saltbush is a versatile shrub. Plants tolerate salt spray and dry summers. The salty, tender young leaves can be used either fresh or steamed as seasoning. Birds and small mammals eat the nutritious seeds and use the dense branches for cover.

5. Sanford's arrowhead (Sagittaria sanfordii)


Habitat
: Riparian
This aquatic herb is now considered rare because much of its natural habitat has been destroyed. The showy white flowers typically bloom throughout the summer.

6. California sagebrush (Artemisia californica)


Habitat
: Coastal sage scrub and chaparral
Found throughout much of coastal California, this native shrub has pungent, fine-textured, gray-green leaves. The inconspicuous flowers bloom in late summer, providing valuable food for insects, birds, and small mammals. Native Americans had many medicinal and ceremonial uses for this plant as well.

7. Western elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. caerulea)


Habitat
: Coastal sage scrub, riparian, deep canyon
This common, fast-growing shrub or small tree occurs throughout much of California and is an important food source for wildlife. Its creamy white flowers and frosted blue berries are both edible, but all other plant parts are poisonous. Native Americans made hunting bows and flutes from the stems.

8. Purple sage (Salvia leucophylla):


Habitat
: Coastal sage scrub and chaparral
The pinkish purple flowers of this beautiful, fragrant shrub are pollinated by hummingbirds and butterflies. Other birds such as quail eat the seeds. Upright and mounding forms occur in nature and both are useful ornamentals for sunny, summer-dry gardens.

9. Arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis)


Habitat
: Riparian
Arroyo willow is just one of several kinds of willows native to California. The supple branches are used in basket weaving and furniture making. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, comes from the bark of willow trees.

10. California sycamore (Platanus racemosa)


Habitat
: Riparian
The mottled white-and-gray bark stands out in winter when this fast-growing tree is leafless. Bats and Monarch butterflies were known to use massive older trees as roosting sites. Chumash Indians fashioned beautiful, functional bowls from the wood.

11. St. Catherine’s lace (Eriogonum giganteum)


Habitat: Coastal sage scrub and chaparral
Of the more than 125 species of buckwheat native to California, this is by far the largest. Prized by gardeners for its silvery-gray leaves and massive inflorescence, it is valuable as wildlife habitat, too, offering food for insects, birds, and mammals.

12. Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium)


Habitat: Deep canyon
The fragrant yellow flowers in spring, powdery blue berries in autumn, and shiny evergreen leaves provide year-round interest. The bitter berries make tasty jelly or sauce when cooked. Share them with the birds. The roots yield a yellow dye.