Our goal at Calscape is to help Californians restore nature and save water one garden at a time. We do this by showing people which plants are really native to any location in the state, helping them figure out which ones they want, and where to buy them and how to grow them.
California is an extremely environmentally diverse state. Different California native plants evolved to grow in areas of the state with very different temperatures, rainfall levels, summer drought periods, air moisture levels, and marine influences, among other factors. Because of this, it's always best to grow California native plants in the areas in which they evolved. They are easier to grow, healthier and require little or no artificial irrigation when they are planted in an area in which they evolved and naturally belong. Native California plants that aren't really native to that location will often struggle or die no matter how much you water them.
True native plants are the foundation for nature restoration. They attract birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and insects and other pollinators that evolved with those plants, and over time create a working natural ecosystem, without pesticides, and without artificial fertilizers. The bird life in particular in a true natural garden is often spectacular. With the right plants, it's not hard for homeowners to create small patches of nature throughout even the developed part of the state.
Our estimates for which plants naturally grow in any given location in California are based on almost 2 million field occurrences of native California plant species collected over the last 150 years by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH).
For a given location to be included in a given plant's geographic range, a natural specimen of that plant needs to have been observed by a CCH botanist within 10 miles of that location, and the location must be within the elevation, annual precipitation, summer precipitation, coldest month average temperature, hottest month average temperature, and humidity ranges in which that plant grows in the Jepson geographic subdivision in which the location falls.
For example, based on CCH observations of Bigberry Manzanita, we know that in the Peninsular Range, Bigberry Manzanita grows at elevations between 389 and 4641 feet, at locations with annual rainfall between 13.5" and 29.3", summer rainfall between .3" - 1.8", average coldest month temperatures between 43.4 and 51.7 degrees F, average hottest month temperatures of between 67.1 and 78.2 degrees F, average lowest monthly humidity between 18.6 and 26.9 vpd, and average highest monthly humidity of between 1.04 and 3.8 vpd. So for a given location in the Peninsular Range to be included in the geographic range of Bigberry Manzanita, it must fall within 10 miles of a natural observation of Bigberry Manzanita, and the location must fall within all the elevation and climate ranges in which this plant grows in the Peninsular Range, as described above.
Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual normals at an 800 meter spatial resolution. Occurrence data is provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria. Special thanks to the Jepson Flora Project at U.C. Berkeley for their help in analyzing this data and creating the Calscape plant range maps.
Note that for successful native plant landscaping and nature restoration, it's important to grow plants that are native to your location AND placed in spots with the right soil, sun and water conditions. Before you finalize which native plants to grow and exactly where to place them, please review the Calscape plant descriptions to make you place them in spots with the conditions they require.
Sources of plant photos include Calphotos, and dozens of amazing plant photographers who have agreed to share their photos with Calscape. Authorship and copyright information is shown under each plant photo.
Other sources include Wikipedia, which is an important source for the "About" sections in the Calscape plant pages. In many cases the sections have been edited and built on by Calscape volunteer editors. Please note that all text shown in the "About" section is available for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia is also a source for a number of plant photos available through Wikimedia Commons. All photographs on Calscape that were originally from Wikimedia Commons are available for reuse under conditions set by the authors and described in each photo.
Sunset information was provided was provided by The Jepson Flora Project.
Propagation from seed information was provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery.
Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson eFlora, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout.