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California Native Plants & Grasses 

for Under Oak Trees

A number of native plants may be used under oak trees.  These plants are particularly suitable because they not only tolerate shade from the canopy but they also will thrive in the dry conditions that are essential for the oak tree’s survival in the dry months of the year. 

Planting during the fall through spring will help to reduce the stress of the existing oak that may occur due to root damage.  Old oaks have an incredible root system that consists of a deep tap root, as well as many fibrous roots that may appear near the surface of the soil.  In order to minimize damage to the existing roots of the oak, it is recommended that, where possible, plant only 4” or 1-gallon material.  

*Without a contractual agreement, material may be unavailable or only in limited quantities during certain times of the year.

Taxonomic Name                                Common Name                     
Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’ Manzanita Selection
Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’ Manzanita Hybrid
Arctostaphylos edmundsii Little Sur Manzanita
Arctostaphylos edmunsii ‘Carmel Sur’ Little Sur Manzanita Selection
Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Monterey Carpet'  Manzanita Selection
Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Wayside'  Manzanita Selection
*Arctostaphylos nummularium 'Small Change'  Manzanita Selection
Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist'  Manzanita Hybrid
Arctostaphylos 'Point Reyes'  Manzanita Hybrid
*Arctostaphylos purissima 'Vandenberg'  Manzanita Selection
Carpenteria californica Bush Anenome
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Anchor Bay’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Blue Jeans’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus gloriosus exaltatus ‘Emily Brown’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus gloriosus 'Heart's Desire'               Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Point Reyes’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus griseus 'Louis Edmunds' Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus griseus horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus griseus 'Santa Ana'            Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus hearstiorum San Simeon Ceanothus
Ceanothus 'Joan Mirov' Wild Lilac Hybrid
Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter' Wild Lilac Hybrid
Ceanothus rigidus ‘Snowball’ Wild Lilac Selection
*Eriogonum cinereum  Ashy Leaf Buckwheat
*Erigonum crocatum  Conejo Buckwheat
Eriogonum grande rubescens  Red Buckwheat
Galvezia juncea Baja Bush Snapdragon
Galvezia speciosa  Island Bush Snapdragon
Galvezia speciosa 'Firecracker' Island Bush Snapdragon Selection
Heuchera ‘Genevieve’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera maxima Alum Root
Heuchera maxima Hybrids Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera ‘Old La Rochette’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera ‘Opal’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera ‘Santa Ana Cardinal’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera ‘Susanna’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera ‘Wendy’ Alum Root Hybrid
Heuchera micrantha Alum Root Hybrid
Iris ‘Canyon Snow’ Iris Hybrid
Iris ‘Pacific Coast Hybrids’ Pacific Coast Iris
Iris douglasiana Douglas Iris
Lepechinia fragrans 'El Tigre'  Pitcher Sage Selection
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape
Mahonia nevinii Nevin’s Barberry
Mahonia repens Creeping Barberry
Mimulus aurantiacus  Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus bifidus Sticky Monkeyflower
Mimulus longiflorus Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus puniceus Red Monkeyflower
*Polystichum munitum   Western Sword Fern
Prunus ilicifolia Holly-leaf Cherry
Rhamnus californica Coffeeberry
Rhamnus californica ‘Eve’s Case’ Coffeeberry Selection
Rhamnus californica ‘Mound San Bruno’ Coffeeberry Selection
Rhamnus crocea  Redberry
Rhamnus crocea ilicifolia  Holly-leaved Redberry Selection
Ribes aureum Golden Currant
Ribes sanguineum 'Claremont'  Red-flowering Currant Selection
Ribes sanguineum glutinosum  Pink-flowering Currant
Ribes speciosum Fuchsia-flowering Gooseberry
Ribes viburnifolium  Evergreen Currant
Rubus ursinus  Pacific Blackberry
Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage
Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-eyed Grass
Solanum xantii Purple Nightshade
Symphoricarpos alba White Snowberry
Symphoricarpos mollis Snowberry
Thalictrum polycarpum Meadow Rue
Zauschneria californica  California Fuchsia  
Zauschneria californica 'Catalina'  California Fuchsia Selection
Zauschneria californica 'Everett's Choice'  California Fuchsia Selection
Zauschneria californica latifolia  California Fuchsia Selection
Zauschneria californica 'Solidarity Pink' California Fuchsia Selection
Zauschneria californica 'Wayne's Silver'  California Fuchsia Selection
Zauschneria cana Hoary Fuchsia
Zauschneria septentrionalis  Humboldt County Fuchsia

Grasses, Reeds, Rushes and Sedges

Most of the grasses listed below will go semi-dormant, and, in some cases, fully dormant during the hot, dry summer months.  This is a natural way for these types of plants to survive in the wild.  Though some of the grasses will tolerate additional summer water to remain green, grasses such as Melica and Nassella will die if too much summer water is applied.  In any case, take caution not to apply too much summer water for the existing oak tree.

Taxonomic Name Common Name
Carex spissa San Diego Sedge
Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince'  Giant Wild Rye Selection
Leymus triticoides  Creeping Wild Rye
*Melica californica California Melic
*Melica imperfecta Coast Range Melic
*Nassella lepida Foothill Needlegrass
*Nassella pulchra Purple Needlegrass

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This page was last updated on 01/15/2009