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California Native Plants & Grasses

Tolerant of Very Dry Conditions

California native plants can be found growing in various types of soil and exposures including wet, dry and very dry conditions.  It is imperative when choosing a plant palette that all of the material on the palette is tolerant of similar conditions.  One common misconception is that native plants do not need water.  This is far from the truth; remember that all plants (even the most drought tolerant ones) need some water.   Properly establishing native plants is the key to the success of each planting.  Irrigation frequency is dependent on the type of irrigation being used, soil type, climatic conditions and exposure.  Natives and other drought tolerant material benefit from deep, infrequent watering.

As a general rule, native plants should be planted during October through May.  Though some plants that are tolerant of regular water can be transplanted without any problems during the summer, to increase the success of the planting, it is not recommended that certain genera be planted.  Some of these include, but are not limited to:  Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, Malosma, Mimulus, Nassella, Rhus and some species of Salvia.

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

Taxonomic Name Common Name 
*Adenostoma fasciculatum  Chamise
Aesculus californica California Buckeye
Artemesia californica California Sagebrush
Artemisia californica 'Canyon Grey'  California Sagebrush Selection
Calliandra californica Red Fairy Duster
Calliandra eriophylla Pink Fairy Duster
Carpenteria californica Bush Anemone
Ceanothus leucodermis Chaparral Whitethorn
Ceanothus megacarpus Big-Pod Ceanothus
Ceanothus rigidus ‘Snowball’ Wild Lilac Selection
Ceanothus spinosus    Greenbark Ceanothus
Cercis occidentalis Western Redbud
Cercocarpus betuloides Mountain Mahogany
Cercocarpus ledifolius Curl-Leaf Mountain Mahogany
Cercocarpus mintifolius San Diego Mountain Mahogany
*Clematis ligusticifolia Virgin’s Bower
*Coreopsis gigantea Giant Coreopsis
*Dudleya cymosa Live-Forever
*Dudleya lanceolata Live-Forever
*Dudleya pulverulenta Chalk Dudleya
*Encelia farinosa Brittlebush
*Eriogonum cinereum  Ashy Leaf Buckwheat
*Erigonum crocatum Conejo Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum  California Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Bruce Dickinson’ California Buckwheat Selection
Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Dana Point’ California Buckwheat Selection
*Eriogonum giganteum St. Catherine’s Lace
Eriogonum grande rubescens  Red Buckwheat
*Fouquieria splendens Ocotillo
*Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor' Flannel Bush Selection
*Fremontodendron 'California Glory' Flannel Bush Selection
Heteromeles arbutifolia Toyon
*Isomeris arborea Bladderpod
*Lupinus albifrons Silver Bush Lupine
Lyonothamnus floribundus aspl. Fernleaf Catalina Ironwood
*Mahonia nevinii Nevin’s Barberry
Malacothamnus fasciculatus Mesa Bushmallow
Malosma laurina Laurel Sumac
Mimulus aurantiacus Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus bifidus Sticky Monkeyflower
Mimulus longiflorus Bush Monkeyflower
Mimulus puniceus Red Monkeyflower
Opuntia littoralis Prickly Pear
Opuntia prolifera Coast Cholla
Penstemon centranthifolius Scarlet Bugler
Penstemon spectabilis Showy Penstemon
Prunus ilicifolia Holly-leaf Cherry
Prunus lyonii Catalina Cherry
Quercus agrifolia Coast Live Oak
Quercus berberdifolia Scrub Oak
Quercus chrysolepis Canyon Live Oak
Quercus engelmannii Engelmann’s Oak
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 
Rhus integrifolia Lemonade Berry
Rhus ovata Sugar Bush
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
Romneya coulteri Matilija Poppy
Salvia apiana White Sage
Salvia clevelandii Cleveland Sage 
Salvia leucophylla Purple Sage
Salvia mellifera Black Sage
Salvia mellifera ‘Terra Seca’ Black Sage Selection
Salvia munzii San Miguel Mountain Sage
*Simmondsia chinensis Jojoba
Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-eyed Grass
Sphaeralcea ambigua Apricot Mallow
Thalictrum polycarpum Meadow Rue
*Trichostema lanatum Woolly Blue Curls
Viguiera lacianata San Diego Sunflower
Vitis californica Wild Grape
Yucca whipplei Our Lord’s Candle
Zauschneria californica  California Fuchsia 
Zauschneria cana California Fuchsia 


The grasses listed below will go semi-dormant or fully dormant during the hot, dry summer months.  This is a natural way for these types of plants to survive in the wild.  It is recommended that minimal water be applied during the summer to allow these species to act as they do in nature.  Too much summer water may cause the grasses to die.

Taxonomic Name  Common Name 
Leymus condensatus  Giant Wild Rye
Leymus triticoides  Beardless Wild Rye
Leymus triticoides 'Grey Dawn'  Beardless Wild Rye Selection
*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