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Coastal sage scrub

Coastal sage scrub

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Coastal sage scrub is a low scrubland plant community found in the California chaparral and woodlands
California chaparral and woodlands
The California chaparral and woodlands is a terrestrial ecoregion of lower northern, central, and southern California and northwestern Baja California , located on the west coast of North America...

 ecoregion of coastal California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and northern Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

. It is characterized by low-growing aromatic, and drought-deciduous shrubs adapted to the semi-arid Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 of the coastal lowlands. The community is sometimes called soft chaparral
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...

 due to the predominance of soft, drought-deciduous leaves in contrast to the hard, waxy-cuticled leaves on sclerophyllous plants of California's chaparral communities.

Characteristic plants include California sagebrush
Artemisia californica
Artemisia californica, also known as California sagebrush, of the Asteraceae family, is a shrub that grows in coastal sage scrub, coastal strand, chaparral, and dry foothill communities, from sea level to 800 m...

 (Artemisia californica), black sage
Black Sage
Salvia mellifera is a small, highly aromatic, evergreen shrub of the genus Salvia native to California, and Baja California, Mexico. It is common in the coastal sage scrub of Southern California and northern Baja California...

 (Salvia mellifera), white sage
White sage
Salvia apiana is an evergreen perennial shrub that is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, found mainly in the coastal sage scrub habitat of Southern California and Baja California, on the western edges of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.-Description :S...

 (Salvia apiana), California buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum
Eriogonum fasciculatum is a species of wild buckwheat known by the common names California buckwheat and Eastern Mojave buckwheat. This common shrub is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, where it grows on scrubby slopes and in chaparral and dry washes in a number of...

 (Eriogonum fasciculatum), coast brittle-bush
Encelia californica
Encelia californica is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family known by the common name California brittlebush. It is also commonly referred to as "California bush sunflower"....

 (Encelia californica), golden yarrow
Eriophyllum confertiflorum
Eriophyllum confertiflorum, known by the common name Golden yarrow or Yellow yarrow, is a flowering plant in the daisy family.-Distribution:...

 (Eriophyllum confertifolium), with the larger shrubs toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia , and commonly known as Toyon, is a common perennial shrub native to California down to Baja California....

 (Heteromeles arbutifolia) and Lemonade berry
Rhus integrifolia
Rhus integrifolia, also known as Lemonade Berry, Lemonadeberry, or Lemonade Sumac is a shrub to small tree. It is native to the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges and the South Coast regions of Southern California...

 (Rhus integrifolia), along with other shrubs and herbaceous plants, grasses
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

, and in some places, cacti
A cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae. Their distinctive appearance is a result of adaptations to conserve water in dry and/or hot environments. In most species, the stem has evolved to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have evolved into spines...

 and succulents. Lists and photographs of organisms found in CSS can be found on the Robert J. Bernard Field Station website.

Coastal sage scrub is divided into two geographical subtypes – northern coastal scrub and southern coastal scrub.

Northern coastal scrub

Northern coastal scrub occurs along the Pacific Coast
Pacific Coast
A country's Pacific coast is the part of its coast bordering the Pacific Ocean.-The Americas:Countries on the western side of the Americas have a Pacific coast as their western border.* Geography of Canada* Geography of Chile* Geography of Colombia...

 from the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 north to southern Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

. It frequently forms a landscape mosaic with coastal prairie
California coastal prairie
California coastal prairie, also known as northern coastal grassland, is a grassland plant community of California and Oregon in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome...

. The predominant plants are low evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s and herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s. Characteristic shrubs include coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), california yerba santa
Eriodictyon is a genus of plants within the Hydrophylloideae subfamily of the Boraginaceae family.It includes Yerba Santa , along with other similarly named plants...

 (Eriodictyon californicum), coast silk-tassel (Garrya elliptica), salal
Gaultheria shallon is a leathery-leaved shrub in the heather family , native to western North America. In English it is known as salal, shallon, or in Britain simply Gaultheria.-Ecology:...

 (Gaultheria shallon), and yellow bush lupine (Lupinus arboreus). Herbaceous species include Western Blue-eyed Grass
Western Blue-eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium bellum is the common blue-eyed grass of California and Oregon in and west of the Sierra Nevada, its range extending south into Baja California. In parts of its range, Western Blue-eyed Grass has previously been classified as Sisyrinchium eastwoodiae, S. greenei and S...

 (Sisyrinchium bellum), Douglas iris
Douglas Iris
Iris douglasiana, known as the Douglas iris, is a common and attractive wildflower of the coastal regions of Northern and Central California and southern Oregon. The names Iris beecheyana and I...

 (Iris douglasiana), and grasses
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...


Southern coastal scrub

Southern coastal scrub is mostly found along the coast in Central
Central California
Central California, sometimes referenced as Mid-State, is an area of California south of the San Francisco Bay Area and north of Southern California...

 and Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

, from the San Francisco Bay Area in the north, through the Oxnard Plain
Oxnard Plain
The Oxnard Plain is a large coastal plain in southwest Ventura County, California bounded by the Santa Monica Mountains, the Santa Susana Mountains, and Oak Ridge to the east, the Topatopa Mountains to the north, the Santa Clara River Valley to the northeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south and...

 of Ventura County, the Los Angeles Basin
Los Angeles Basin
The Los Angeles Basin is the coastal sediment-filled plain located between the Peninsular and Transverse ranges in southern California in the United States containing the central part of the city of Los Angeles as well as its southern and southeastern suburbs...

, most of Orange County
Orange County, California
Orange County is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County...

, parts of Riverside County, coastal San Diego County, and the northwestern corner of Mexico's Baja California state, including the region around Tijuana
Tijuana is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, part of the international San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. An industrial and financial center of Mexico, Tijuana exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics...

 and Ensenada
Ensenada, Baja California
Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico and the third-largest city in Baja California. It is located south of San Diego on the Baja California Peninsula. The city is locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico, or, The Cinderella of the Pacific...


The metropolitan areas of Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, San Diego, and Tijuana
Tijuana is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, part of the international San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. An industrial and financial center of Mexico, Tijuana exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics...

 are located in the southern coastal scrublands, and most of the scrublands have been lost to urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 and agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. The plants of this community prefer the mild maritime climates found along California's coastline. World Wildlife Fund estimates that only 15% of the coastal sage scrublands remain undeveloped. Some of the remaining CSS in Los Angeles County can be found at the Robert J. Bernard Field Station at the Claremont Colleges
Claremont Colleges
The Claremont Colleges are a prestigious American consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools of higher education located in Claremont, California, a city east of downtown Los Angeles...


A number of rare
Rare species
A rare species is a group of organisms that are very uncommon or scarce. This designation may be applied to either a plant or animal taxon, and may be distinct from the term "endangered" or "threatened species" but not "extinct"....

 and endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 occur in Southern coastal scrub habitats. For example, the California Gnatcatcher
California Gnatcatcher
The California Gnatcatcher, Polioptila californica, is a small 10.8 cm long insectivorous bird which frequents dense coastal sage scrub growth...

 (Polioptila californica), is a threatened bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 species endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 to the coastal sage scrublands. At the Torrey Pines State Reserve
Torrey Pines State Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a coastal state park located in the California community of La Jolla, San Diego, California, off North Torrey Pines Road . Although it is located within San Diego city limits, it remains one of the wildest stretches of land on the Southern California coast...

 the endangered Torrey Pine
Torrey Pine
The Torrey Pine, Pinus torreyana, is the rarest pine species in the United States, an endangered species growing only in San Diego County and on one of the Channel Islands, endemic to the coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion in the U.S...

(Pinus torreyana) is found as the dominant tree, in one of only two known stands of this Pine species.

External links